The Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson doubled his pay to more than £2m through his work with the BBC last year, accounts have shown.
Despite at times risking turning his career into something of a car crash with one controversial comment after another, appearance fees for a show now broadcast in 198 countries earned him £350,000 in the 12 months to March 2011. It was the accompanying merchandise – encompassing mugs, T-shirts, magazines, radio-controlled cars and watches – that made up the bulk of his income however: a further £1.79m. That took his total to £2.14m, up from £854,000 the previous year.
The money forms his share of a deal struck with the BBC in 2006, whereby the corporation takes half of the profits related to his shows. The other half goes to his private company, Bedder 6, whose income Mr Clarkson shares with Andy Wilman, a co-producer on the hit motoring series.
Mr Clarkson's comments that public sector workers who went on strike should be shot in front of their families, made in ill-judged jest on the The One Show on BBC1 in November, provoked some commentators to say he was merely attracting attention to boost sales of his latest DVD.
Indeed, his history of controversy indeed seems to have only helped his earning capacity. The Christmas special of Top Gear pulled in 5 million viewers, despite the 32,000 complaints made against his One Show comments.
Previous remarks about Gordon Brown and women in burkas have also polarised his appeal but evidently not alienated his core audience.