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Clarkson’s departure gives Top Gear the chance to reinvent itself

24th March 2015

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Note: This post has been moved from Latest Picks due to length of extended updates.

Clarkson’s departure gives Top Gear the chance to reinvent itself (telegraph.co.uk).

Jeremy Clarkson
“And on that bombshell, Jeremy Clarkson has gone. Top Gear’s main man has caused one controversy too far, gone out in a blaze of producer-punching in-glory and been jettisoned from the BBC’s mega-successful motoring franchise. The Star in a Reasonably Priced Fracas has roared off into the sunset, no doubt raising a defiant two-fingered salute in mesh-backed, leather-palmed driving gloves as he does so. ”

Leaving many voicing that they should stop paying their licence fee in protest to grumble in pub banter with other “common men” on the next UKIP rally attended. Indeed though, it should be recalled that Clarkson, despite being the curmudgeon current figurehead of Top Gear, wasn’t Top Gear from the beginning.

“What often gets forgotten in the pro-Clarkson, petrol-heads-waving-pitchforks furore is that Top Gear existed pre-Jezza, as a relatively sober motoring review programme. It was pretty successful on it own modest terms, too. It began in 1977 as a monthly magazine show, with Angela Rippon behind the wheels of Ford Cortinas and Austin Allegros (oh, the glamour), introducing features on new-fangled speed traps, strange new road signs and interviews with the Transport Minister. ”

I seem to recall that was about the time skinhead Oi graffiti regarding Angela Rippon’s bum adorned many a wall in an Essex port town (GoogleTube). Yep, I was born there.

Angela Rippon’s Bum
“Three years later, Noel Edmonds took over and as the show evolved through the Eighties…”

Well, Edmonds thankfully quit when he got that Crinkly Bottom at his own House Party (Wikipedia).

“…new presenters came on-board—including former Formula One driver Tiff Needell and, in 1988, some reporter from Performance Car magazine called Jeremy Clarkson. Tall bloke, curly hair, couldn’t miss him. The modern era itself was a reinvention, masterminded in 2002 by Clarkson and executive producer Andy Wilman, the power behind the driving seat and unseen fourth member of the TG team. They turned it into the glossy, growling entertainment behemoth we know today. It’s been a global hit, sure, but has changed little in the last 13 years. The world has moved on around it and now Top Gear can catch up.”

A “glossy, growling entertainment behemoth” that in the end just became a vehicle for bigotry—perhaps in response to a “world [that] has moved on around it” leaving some wishing it hadn’t.

So, “reinvention”, Top Gear has indeed been here before. Who is in the running?

“So how to repeat the trick with Top Gear? With no baggage and a blank sheet of paper. Bring in clever, funny, talented people and let them have their head. They might be younger than the current line-up. One of them might even be—look away now, unreconstructed car bores—a woman.”
Chris Evans

Or, might I just suggest, Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge. He certainly seems a popular reboot choice:

Petition calls for Alan Partridge to replace Jeremy Clarkson (bbc.co.uk).

And the much admired petrol-head comedian, who had been on the show three times, was certainly no fan of the outgoing teams “just a laugh” and a bit of “harmless fun”:

Steve Coogan: I’m a huge fan of Top Gear. But this time I’ve had enough (theguardian.com, Feb. 2011).

“OK, guys, I’ve got some great ideas for your next show. Jeremy, why not have James describe some kosher food as looking like ‘sick with cheese on it’? No? Thought not. Even better, why not describe some Islamic fundamentalists as lazy and feckless? Feel the silence. They’re all pretty well organised these days, aren’t they, those groups? Better stick to those that are least problematic. Old people? Special needs? I know—Mexicans! There aren’t enough of them to be troublesome, no celebrities to be upset. And most of them are miles and miles away.”

Come on, honestly, tell me you don’t want to hear the excited hoots of “ah hah!” in every town Alpha Papa drives through.

As for Clarkson himself, despite speculation he, Hammond and May might just heave Gear elsewhere, his dipstick is not out of the oil yet.

Sacked Clarkson could face police action (news.sky.com).

“Clarkson, 54, assaulted Oisin Tymon for around 30 seconds, while shouting ‘derogatory and abusive language’ so loudly it could be heard in a hotel bedroom, a BBC report has found. The attack at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, in North Yorkshire, was only stopped when a witness intervened, BBC Director General Tony Hall said.”

Updates/Follow ups

Updated 10th April 2015

Clarkson quits Have I Got News For You—before he starts (msn.com).

“Jimmy Mulville, managing director of Hat Trick Productions which makes the show, said: ‘On reflection, Jeremy Clarkson has decided not to host Have I Got News For You. We fully expect him to resume his hosting duties later in the year.’”

Indeed, Private Eye satirist Ian Hislop and co. tend to hit back in a uncompromisingly laddish but well researched manner. “To resume his hosting duties later in the year?” With….

Updated 8th April 2015

Jeremy Clarkson will present Have I Got News For You, less than a month after Top Gear sacking (huffingtonpost.co.uk).

“A BBC spokesperson has told The Mirror: ‘Jeremy’s contract has not been renewed on Top Gear but he isn’t banned from appearing on the BBC.’ The news-related panel show often sees celebrity guest presenters poke fun at themselves, as well as the personalities taking part in the quiz, and fans will have to wait and see whether Jeremy makes light of his recent drama.”

I though he’d already made that clear enough.

And Jeremy Clarkson will face no further action, say police (theguardian.com).

“It comes after the producer involved, Oisin Tymon, decided not to press charges last month, saying in a statement that he hoped ‘all parties should now be allowed to move on, so far as possible.’”

Updated 26th March 2015

PM David Cameron gives his verdict on BBC dropping Clarkson (video, msn.com).

“Well, it’s entirely a matter for the BBC, it’s never right not to treat your staff and people properly. So it’s their decision and I don’t think I should say any more about it.”

Having defended his petrol-headed phone buddy’s “great talent” and ability to entertain his children when the fracas hit the distinctly uncooling fan (express.co.uk), Flashman’s engine stalling a little there.

Writer and former Conservative MP Louise Mensch brands Britain “wimpy” for giving Jeremy Clarkson the boot (msn.com).

Indeed, wimps; when did it become a disciplinary issue for hitting employees? Give ’em a whippin’ I say.

“Writer and former Conservative MP Louise Mensch who weighed in on Jeremy’s dismissal, labelling it the product of a ‘wimpy’ and ‘effeminate’ culture. Many of those on Twitter were incredulous of her remarks, with a fellow journalist, Laura Marcus, challenging Louise on her views on violence in the workplace…”

Sadly a lack of some effeminacy in her weighing in.

“Louise condoned the act as long as the culprit and victim were evenly matched and not much harm was done.”

Indeed, evenly matched and not a little guy being told “This is not f****** good enough. This is typical of the f****** BBC. You’re going to lose your job over this, I’ll make sure of it” for not having got him a hot dinner. Likely she has a reason to speak up about… something, anything; perhaps she has a book to sell, although presumably not on English law and assault.

Oisin Tymon
Oisin Tymon

Producer hit by Jeremy Clarkson had “blood running down his face” and needed treatment in A&E (metro.co.uk).

“The Mirror reports that Clarkson called Oisin Tymon a ‘lazy Irish c***’ moments before he hit him and split his lip. The punch was so forceful Tymon was allegedly left covered in blood and required a trip to hospital for treatment. He is said to have suffered dizziness following the event. … [Clarkson] and the other Top Gear producers arrived two hours late to the hotel after they held up the helicopter that was due to fly them there. Oisin had apparently waited up for the presenters rather than going on to bed, and Clarkson was said to be ‘agitated’ when he arrived.”

Updated 27th March 2015

Clarkson row producer will not press charges (news.sky.com).

“Oisin Tymon, the Top Gear producer punched by Jeremy Clarkson during a row over food, has told police he does not want to press charges.”

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