Jeremy Clarkson suspended by BBC: Top Gear presenter no stranger to gaffes and controversy

Top Gear's producer described last year as 'an annus horribilis' for the show

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The Independent Online

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended amid allegations of a fracas with a producer of the show.

But the incident is not the first time the 53-year-old presenter, who prides himself on being an opponent of political correctness, has courted controversy as he has dealt with allegations including racism and sexism in the past.

Last year, Clarkson published a film apologising for using the word “n*****” as he recited the children’s nursery rhyme “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” in an un-aired episode of the BBC motoring show.

Clarkson admitted that he did “everything in [his] power” not to use the highly offensive racial slur, but said his “efforts obviously weren't quite good enough”.

Ofcom also censored Top Gear for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a “racial” term during the programme's Burma special, which had aired in March last year.

And in 2012, Ofcom cleared Clarkson of breaching the broadcasting code after he compared a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces, and again in 2008 for joking about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

He previously faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as “selfish” and was forced to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot.

Top Gear was also dogged by a racism row and almost sparked a riot while filming in Argentina, after Clarkson was seen driving a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL, thought to be a deliberate reference to the Falklands War of 1982.

The year ended with the motoring show's crew fleeing Argentina over the car, causing Top Gear's executive producer Andy Wilman to describe last year as “an annus horribilis” for the show.

Clarkson has so far remained silent about the suspension on his Twitter feed.

His last tweets were on Sunday, when he wrote: "It's an old skool Top Gear tonight. Nobody falls over and no-one is fired by canon into a hospital. I'd watch something else frankly."

Clarkson's controversies over the years:

2003: Jeremy Clarkson drives a pick-up into a horse chestnut tree in a car park in Somerset, to test the strength of a Toyota. The BBC apologised to the parish council.

2008: Clarkson makes a joke during an episode about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, which attracts more than 1,000 complaints to the BBC.

2010: Jokes made during the show about Mexicans, which included them being branded "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent", spark controversy and prompt an apology from the BBC to the Mexican ambassador.

2011: During a 90-minute India special a car fitted with a toilet in the boot is described by Clarkson as "perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots".

2012: Clarkson is found to have breached BBC guidelines by comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces.

2014: Clarkson was embroiled in controversy when it was claimed he used the N-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during filming.

2014: Top Gear is ruled to have breached broadcasting rules after Clarkson used the word "slope" to describe an Asian man.

2014: Top Gear crew is forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.

Additional reporting by PA