Jeremy Clarkson, sacked from the BBC motoring programme Top Gear after allegedly punching a producer, has had a difficult few weeks. But what's it really like to work with him? Here's what assorted friends and colleagues have to say.
Long-time friend and fellow Sunday Times columnist Gill came to Clarkson's defence the week the BBC announced his supension. Gill emphasised his friend's work ethic and talent, writing: "Those who say: ‘Well, he’s just a presenter’ have no idea how much of Top Gear is down to him. The new format was created by Jeremy and his old school friend Andy Wilman, the producer."
He added: "Jeremy does not just present, he comes up with the ideas, he also writes the scripts. All those jokes and that banter are not off-the-cuff wit.
"At the BBC, some of Jeremy’s colleagues have treated him as a liability. Not just failed to appreciate him but briefed against him while taking the hundreds of millions his talent earns them and using him image and Top Gear to promote themselves around the world."
Top Gear co-host May joked that "in many ways" he didn't want Clarkson to return to the programme: "I’ve said many times before the man is a k**b but I quite like him."
Things you never knew about Top Gear
Things you never knew about Top Gear
1/14 Top Gear isn't really for adults
It's 'aimed at people with a mental age of nine', according to executive producer Andy Wilman.
2/14 Planet Earth loves it...
Top Gear is screened in more than 100 countries worldwide and has millions of fans.
3/14 ...but not all motoring hacks do
You might think Jezza was a hero of the motoring hack world but that's not strictly accurate. Telegraph journalist Neil Lyndon summed Top Gear's 21st birthday last year up well: 'Does that mean Billy Bunter and his gang finally get forced out of the Fourth Remove and into long trousers?'
4/14 The Top Gear theme tune is a classic rock song
Seven-minute instrumental 'Jessica' by The Allman Brothers was a hit in 1973. Top Gear has recorded its own version now but used part of the original recording at first. One for the road trip playlist.
5/14 Jeremy Clarkson couldn't get much more controversial if he tried
The presenter is currently suspended from the BBC following a 'fracas' with a producer over a steak dinner. Past scandals include a string of racism allegations.
6/14 This Porsche caused all sorts of trouble in Argentina
The Top Gear team were forced to flee Argentina after locals took offence at the car's number plate - believing it was a deliberately provocative reference to the Falklands War of 1982.
7/14 If it's car-buying advice you want, look elsewhere
It's an in-joke in Top Gear that they don't do car tests. You would be mad to make a purchases based on Jezza's verdict.
8/14 Richard Hammond had a near-death experience filming Top Gear
The 'Hamster' was filming a Top Gear segment in a dragster called Vampire when its front-right tyre burst at 288mph. Hammond spent two weeks in a coma but luckily went on to make a full recovery. He requested that no mention of the crash was made in future Top Gear episodes.
9/14 Jeremy Clarkson is more than a little bit taller than Richard Hammond
Nine inches, to be precise.
10/14 Top Gear used to offer real advice
Before these lads took over, it was a real car-reviewing show with presenters such as Angela Rippon, who gave practical reviews of down-to-earth workhorses such as Cavaliers or Mini Metros.
11/14 Those 'reasonably priced' cars take quite a battering
Denis Chick, of Vauxhall, is brave to have lent the show a fleet of his Astras. He said: "Vauxhall Astra sales would not improve if everyone drove like Jimmy Carr around the Dunsfold track." The comedian hilariously took his test car's front off-side tyre clean off its rim.
12/14 Jeremy Clarkson is a YouTube star
Stray down the motoring internet hole and you'll find lovingly posted videos of 'Clarkson the early years' with incredibly loud hair reviewing 1990s cars in an oddly sensible manner. Very disturbing viewing.
13/14 There have been multiple Stigs
Racing driver Perry McCarthy was stuntsman The Stig on the first two series of Top Gear - here's the man under that famous helmet.
14/14 Ben Collins was The Stig for eight years
Ben Collins was The Stig on Top Gear for eight years. He left amid a clash with the BBC when he unmasked his identity and published an autobiography. Collins thinks Top Gear has 'lost some of its sparkle'.
Hammond, who has worked with Clarkson on Top Gear since 2002, has spoken in glowing terms about working with the suspended presenter and their chemistry on set. "It's never changed," he said in 2011.
"From day one, if Jeremy crashes into something, I will laugh, and I expect him to in return. You couldn't fake it, people would soon suss us out."
The three-times Top Gear guest wrote an op-ed for the Guardian in 2011 after the controversy broke of Clarkson and his co-hosts calling Mexicans "lazy". Coogan said the presenters reminded him of schoolchildren, saying Clarkson was "the bully" of the group.
He added: "Twenty years ago, when I bought Performance Car magazine, his column was the first I would turn to. It was slightly annoying but unfailingly funny. Since then there have been legions of pretenders who just don't pass muster."
The Top Gear producer has defended the health and safety concerns on the programme, writing in the Telegraph in 2011. "In the superminis film, Jeremy is driving with a dog," Wilman said. "He puts the brakes on and the dog shoots out of camera and you hear a bump, then a yelp. Somebody is bound to go, why was that dog in the front? But the dog was fine."
The Prime Minister, who is Clarkon's friend and MP, declined to remain impartial on the matter and immediately defended the presenter, saying he hoped Clarkson would be given his job back: "I don't know exactly what happened. He is a constituent of mine, he is a friend of mine, he is a huge talent."
"I see that he said he regrets some of what happened. All I would say - because he is a talent and he does amuse and entertain so many people, including my children who'll be heartbroken if Top Gear is taken off air - I hope this can be sorted out because it is a great programme and he is a great talent," he continued.
"I don't know what happened. Every organisation has to be able to be free to manage its talent and to say to people: 'You can do this', or 'You can't do that', so I don't want to interfere in the running of the BBC."
David's not the only Cameron up in arms about Clarkson's suspension. His 11-year-old daughter Nancy went on hunger strike in protest.
Cameron said: "I’ve told her this is not necessarily a useful intervention. It’s not exactly Gandhi, we had a discussion about this this morning."Reuse content