Jeremy Clarkson suspended: Top Gear presenter 'considering leaving BBC anyway' even if he's cleared

Clarkson's relationship with the BBC may be at the end of its road

Matilda Battersby
Wednesday 11 March 2015 15:06
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Clarkson: 'Off to job centre'

Jeremy Clarkson is reportedly considering quitting the BBC, even if he is cleared of allegations he punched a Top Gear producer.

Clarkson, who is currently suspended from the corporation after allegedly punching producer Oisin Tymon, is understood to be considering quitting the corporation, even if he is cleared of the charges.

His relationship with key BBC executives has sunk so low that he is unsure it can be salvaged, a source close to the presenter told RadioTimes.com.

He joked with reporters outside his London home today that he was "just off to the job centre".

The “fracas” between Clarkson and Tymon took place while filming on location last week. Clarkson, who is already on his “final warning” at the BBC, is alleged to have swung a punch at Tymon after being told there was no hot food available after a day’s filming.

The BBC has since postponed the final three episodes of the series and is refusing to be drawn on whether the programme –a serious commercial boon for the BBC, which could cost the corporation millions in payouts if scrapped – can survive this incident, with or without Clarkson.

“The last three episodes of this series have been pulled. Can I see him going back to film another BBC series? I don’t think so. But he’ll be fine. The other broadcasters will bite his arm off,” the source said.

Clarkson is understood to have told friends that he did not punch Tymon, but that there had been some “handbags and pushing” over the incident.

The development comes as a petition to reinstate Clarkson passed 330,000 signatures, with Top Gear fans rushing to support the presenter.

Clarkson joined Top Gear in 1988. The presenter has been embroiled in controversy after controversy in the time he has appeared on the car show, and marked himself out as a challenger of political correctness.

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Last year alone, he apologised for using the racial slur “n*****” in an un-aired Top Gear segment, and almost sparked a riot in Argentina after he drove a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL, which was regarded as a deliberate reference to the Falklands War of 1982.

However, his departure from the programme would pose huge challenges for the BBC. It is also not yet clear whether the presenter has any non-compete clauses in his contract, which would restrict him entering into agreements with other broadcasters.

The BBC has still not finalised the arrangements for Clarkson’s disciplinary hearing, but it is understood to want to move quickly.

The corporation is expected to set the wheels in motion before the weekend, as the presenter has a weekly column in the Sunday Times, which he has used to address previous Top Gear controversies.

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