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Jeremy Clarkson Dropped by BBC, Top Gear in Jeopardy

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Jeremy Clarkson suspended from Top Gear

BBC Director-General: Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed
Photo: Isabelle Adam, via Flickr

After weeks of speculation, Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, has announced that Jeremy Clarkson has been officially let go as the host of Top Gear. Clarkson, the show’s embattled host, was suspended from the show earlier this month after having “a fracas” with producer Oisin Tymon.

According to an investigation conducted by Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, Clarkson got into a verbal and physical altercation while on location at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in North Yorkshire.

According to reports, Clarkson and the Top Gear crew arrived at the hotel at 10pm on March 4th, two hours after the hotel’s dinner service had ended. When Clarkson was told that the chef had left for the evening and was handed a cold plate of food, he allegedly launched into a 30-minute, expletive-filled tirade. It was during this prolonged outburst that Clarkson is said to have physically assaulted the producer for “around 30 seconds.”

Nearly a week later, Clarkson confessed to the assault and was promptly suspended by BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen. In the days since, there has been an outpouring of support for Clarkson’s reinstatement, met by a seemingly equal push to have the host fired for just the latest instance in a long line of obnoxious behavior.

BBC’s refusal to renew Clarkson’s contract will likely spell a temporary end to Top Gear—if not a permanent one. The show’s co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, allegedly refused to present the final three episodes of the 22nd season of Top Gear without Clarkson, and it is unknown whether they are willing to renew their deals with the BBC at this time.

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The full statement from Tony Hall can be found below:

It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.

I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4th March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.

I want to make three points.

First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.

Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.

Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.

The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.

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News Source: BBC