The BBC has suspended Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson following a ‘fracas’ with a producer, it was revealed today. He was put on a final warning last year following a racism row after claims that he used the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe during the show’s filming. A BBC spokesman said tonight: ‘Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation.
The motoring show has been dogged by rows and sparked a near-riot while filming in Argentina, but BBC director-general Tony Hall defended it as offering ‘a different voice’ to viewers. In recent years 54-year-old Clarkson has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code by watchdog Ofcom after comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces. He previously faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as ‘selfish’.
And he had to apologise for telling BBC1’s The One Show that striking workers should be shot. Last year, the show was censored by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a ‘racial’ term during the programme’s Burma special, which had aired in March last year. The year ended with the motoring show’s crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982. But each episode in the two-part Christmas special attracted more than seven million viewers last year, with a further three million for each episode on iPlayer. This Sunday’s episode was set to feature the trio – Clarkson with Richard Hammond and James May – getting to grips with classic cars such as a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 Cabriolet.
Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman described last year as ‘an annus horribilis’ for the show after the claims of racism and the near-riot in Argentina
Clarkson has so far remained silent about the suspension on his Twitter feed.