Unions go potty, Clarkson says sorry, now for the lolly

Unison calls on BBC to sack Top Gear star after he calls for striking workers to be shot

With his history of offending the Welsh, gypsies, lorry drivers and Mexicans, inviting Jeremy Clarkson on to a live BBC One show, with a Christmas DVD to plug, was a high-speed pile-up waiting to happen.

But the Top Gear presenter, notorious for his provocative "humour", was forced to apologise after his call for striking public sector workers to be shot attracted condemnation from the Prime Minister down.

The BBC said it had received more than 5,000 complaints after Clarkson, discussing Wednesday's strikers, said on The One Show: "I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families."

The BBC issued an apology over the comments which prompted a backlash on social network sites and beyond.

However a further, personal apology was required from Clarkson, if he was to withstand calls from Unison, which represents more than a million public sector workers, for the BBC to sack their star.

Clarkson, who earns an estimated £1m a year from the BBC and £850,000 from a deal with commercial wing BBC Worldwide, said: "I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously – as I believe is clear if they're seen in context. If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them."

The BBC, which faces sanction from watchdog Ofcom for failing to control Clarkson and allowing him to offend early-evening viewers, hopes the apology will prevent the affair spiralling into another "Sachsgate" – the almighty row which broke out in October 2008 when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on veteran actor Andrew Sachs' answering machine during a broadcast of Brand's Radio 2 show.

The One Show item "wasn't perfectly judged", the corporation admitted.

David Cameron, a friend of Clarkson's, dismissed the comments as "silly". Downing Street clarified that there were "no plans to make public executions government policy". Labour leader Ed Miliband said he had not heard the comments but added that they were "absolutely disgraceful and disgusting."

Piers Morgan attacked his fellow television personality, saying: "If any nurse or dinner lady tried to abuse Clarkson back, he'd take out a super-injunction to stop them."

But, even Clarkson-sceptics swung behind the presenter after the response from Unison which called for his dismissal and threatened to refer the matter to the police. It was the first occasion Unison had called for the sacking of a "public sector worker", it was noted.

It is not the first time Clarkson has created controversy with his opinions. Earlier this year the BBC apologised about an item on Top Gear which led to the Mexican ambassador complaining about the "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults" made about Mexicans by Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond. The BBC's editorial complaints unit upheld criticisms of the show and ruled that it reinforced stereotypes.

Method in his madness: Clarkson's comments – and what he's selling

By Emily Friend

October 1998

Controversy Clarkson makes "bigoted and racist" remarks at Birmingham Motor Show, suggesting Hyundai employees had "eaten a dog" and referring to BMW staff as "Nazis"

Publicising Jeremy Clarkson's Planet Dagenham: Drivestyles of the Rich and Famous and a DVD The Most Outrageous Jeremy Clarkson Video in the World... Ever! released the same month. His new talk show "Clarkson" launched in November.

November 2005

Controversy Clarkson makes Nazi salute and reference to Hitler while talking about a Mini design.

Publicising DVD Clarkson: Heaven and Hell is released that month.

April 2007

Controversy Criticised by the Malaysian government for describing one of the country's cars as the worst in the world, built "in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes".

Publicising Jeremy Clarkson: Greatest Raid of All Time airs on BBC in spring.

November 2008

Controversy Clarkson jokes on Top Gear about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, which attracts over 500 complaints.

Publicising The Challenge Collection, a box set of Top Gear DVDs is released the same month.

August 2010

Controversy Clarkson describes co-presenter James May's Ferrari F430 Speciale as "speciale needs" during an episode of Top Gear.

Publicising Top Gear: The Complete Thirteenth Series is released on DVD that month. His book, How Hard Can It Be?: The World According to Clarkson Vol 4 was released in September.

November 2011

Controversy Clarkson suggests public sector strikers should be shot. BBC gets over 4,000 complaints.

Publicising His book Round the Bend came out last week.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - OTE £37,000

£16000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidate will want t...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada