The BBC’s swaggering, denim disturbing cash cow has been suspended from Top Gear, pending an inquiry into allegations that he “punched a producer”. Clarkson, whose list of offences during his tenure on the show is almost as long as the Lap Time leaderboard, was on his last warning after footage of him reciting a racially offensive verson of a nursery rhyme was released into the public domain.
At the time of writing, 241,030 people have signed a petition demanding his reinstatement.
Let me first declare my interest. Despite my liberal lefty convictions, I really enjoy Top Gear. I don’t even watch it for the cars – half the time I have no idea what they’re talking about – but I enjoy the humour, ribbing and comedic one-upmanship that characterises the show.
If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. I’d be opining about how it was a disgrace that Clarkson wasn’t sacked for referring to a Burmese man as a “slope“. His casual xenophobia when visiting Mexico, India or Albania. His deliberately provocative, almost wilful use of that most racially offensive of terms.
Which it is.
He offers his detractors so much ammunition, and yet remains behind the wheel of Top Gear year after year because the show’s format is one of the most successful the BBC have ever produced. The first episode of its twenty-second series was broadcast simultaneously in over 50 countries, and reportedly “earns more than £150m in revenue” for BBC Worldwide. In summary, he and Top Gear are really, really important to the corporation, and consequently has been given a shitload of second chances.
And yet he still feels the need to push it.
That’s why I’m writing this piece. I fail to understand why Clarkson needs to continually push the boundaries he’s set, just for the sake of it. He’s a rich, highly successful man who gets paid a lot of money to drive expensive cars and lark about with his mates on the telly.
His friends include the Prime Minister, the former editor of The Sun Newspaper and other elite members of the Chipping Norton Set – a bunch of inordinatly rich people who ponce about the Cotswolds in Range Rovers and Hunter wellies, openly breaking the law.
And as for the people who left tyre marks in their haste to sign the petition demanding he be reinstated? Do you seriously think you’re defending the British public’s right to free speech, as you opine on the comments section? That Clarkson “tells it like it is” and his right to do so is vital to our way of life? Does there come a point where you say, “actually, that’s stupid.” Where is that point? Would Clarkson have to record a video of himself calling Winston Churchill a shirtlifter, or beat up Bruce Forsyth on live TV?
Please tell me. I’m genuinely interested.
Otherwise, all you’re doing is campaigning for the right of a very rich man to say and do precisely as he pleases, when he pleases. Or, if you like plain language so much, a spoilt brat who, when he is given boundaries within which to work, wilfully pushes them to prove something neither he, nor I can fully explain.
At 54 years old, what exactly is Jeremy Clarkson rebelling against? At this point, it’s starting to look increasingly like the answer is “what have you got?“