Clarkson, Brand, Assange: The egos have landed



If I were constructing the dinner party I'd least want to go to, the guest list would start with Jeremy Clarkson, Russell Brand and Julian Assange. Just imagine the conversation: I can already hear Clarkson complaining that you can't even make a joke about a dead prostitute these days, while Brand gestures towards his crotch and Assange looks for a balcony from which to address his people.

In fact, I think I might have accidentally come up with a pitch for a reality TV programme. Britain's Got Narcissism would be a gladiatorial contest for huge egos, except it would have to be based at the Ecuadorean embassy for the foreseeable future. And there isn't, I gather, much space for TV cameras and the like. Let alone a Ferrari for Clarkson to sit in and make vroom-vroom noises.

Astonishingly, Clarkson is one of the highest-paid (if not the highest-paid) "stars" at the BBC. I wasn't aware of this improbable fact until last week, when the corporation agreed to buy out his stake in Bedder 6, a company set up jointly five years ago to exploit commercial spin-offs from Top Gear. As if you didn't know, Top Gear is a motoring show on BBC 2 in which three scruffy men behave like teenagers. Clarkson earned something over £3.5m from Top Gear in the year until March, including company dividends and an amusingly titled "talent fee" from the BBC. This proved a bit much even for the corporation, which is why they've bought out his 30 per cent share in Bedder 6. The result is a windfall for Clarkson, running into millions of pounds.

Such are the rewards for shameless self-promotion these days. Brand hasn't had a BBC show since he abused the actor Andrew Sachs on his Radio 2 programme a few years ago, but that didn't stop him being invited to take part in the Olympics closing ceremony. The appearance of this seedy serial shagger was a low point in a pretty dreadful evening, and only someone with gargantuan self-regard could have perched on top of a bus in tight, sparkly trousers to impersonate John Lennon. Narcissists don't do embarrassment, which is one of the reasons why some socially awkward people are drawn to them.

Clarkson's opinions on almost any subject are as predictable as they are reactionary, depending on the shock value of hearing a public figure joking about foreigners being lazy or the deaths of cockle-pickers. Brand's stand-up routine on masturbation is one of the least funny things I've seen, reminiscent of a 12-year-old trying to shock his parents. But then the comedy circuit has produced a string of meagre talents, including Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins.

It's all about performance, and I sometimes think the WikiLeaks founder is following in their footsteps. His address to the UN last week was hilariously grandiloquent, even if he needs to work on his delivery. In a world where narcissism is ludicrously over-valued, Assange is shaping up nicely as the radical man's Jeremy Clarkson.

Joan Smith is Political Blonde:;

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little