cLARKSON’S GONE - but the arrogance remains

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

Well, a number of them actually, but this one has caught my attention because it’s James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson staring out from a poster advertising the Top Gear show, due at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast from May 22 to 24.

It seems everyone has an opinion on the fallout of Clarkson’s ‘fracas’ with a producer. It has made almost daily headlines since it happened - now fans of Top Gear wait to find out what impact his sacking will have on the long running show.

What’s incredible though is the storm of protest over Clarkson’s dismissal and the resulting tirade of abuse directed at producer Oisin Tymon, the victim of his violent outburst.

The petition to support Clarkson gathered over a million signatures but where on earth are the voices supporting Mr Tymon? I wonder how each of the people who signed it would feel if they were assaulted at work and no one was held to account?

Anyway, the petition has had diddly squat effect because Clarkson’s off. There are some who would say it’s not before time.

The BBC has indulged him for too long and no ‘ordinary’ worker would be afforded the same tolerance. He risked the ire of lorry drivers by making reference to murdering prostitutes, came under fire for using the ‘n’ word and there have been other allegations down the years, frankly unrepeatable in these pages but that the ‘BBC insider’ will have heard.

Clarkson is hailed as a legend who helped make a show a winning formula and what’s known in the business as a ‘viewer puller’ and he deserves credit for that. But you can’t go around hitting colleagues you don’t agree with.

Meanwhile, James May has come out with a remark so arrogant, it could be lifted straight from a Top Gear script.

The programme worked, he said, for “very complicated reasons that a lot of people don’t fully understand”.

James, James James. In TV terms, it’s called chemistry. Lots of co-presenters have it and I’m sorry to break it to you, but it’s not exclusive to the petulant teenager that is Top Gear.

May seemed to be hinting that they all might jump ship now – and that’s fine. Presenters come, presenters go, and that’s life in broadcasting.

Let’s remind ourselves of The One Show debacle when Christine Bleakley and her co-presenter Adrian Chiles left the BBC for ITV to host Daybreak in a storm of publicity. She had her feet well planted on the road to a highly promising career that would have offered amazing opportunities had she stayed with the Beeb. In the end, Daybreak was a ratings flop – the viewers left it in their thousands, perhaps because what was already there needed only a few tweaks and Bleakley and Chiles’ chemistry which worked well for a teatime audience was a grump and a giggle too far for the morning viewer.

The BBC brought in look-a-like Alex Jones and The One Show is still there. Adrian Chiles meanwhile, did some sport and seems to have vanished with rumours of an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, but Bleakley is not short of work.

Top Gear viewers will weep and wail and gnash their teeth for a while, but the BBC will reinvent it and we’ll all tune in if only out of curiosity and to watch its evolution.

Top Gear, Clarkson, Hammond and May will survive – and so will we. Now let’s get on with our lives.