And so, the karmic tsunami of terrible life events continues for Jeremy Clarkson.
This time, his first wife Alex Hall is adding to claims that the Top Gear presenter is being divorced by his partner of 21 years, Frances Clarkson, insisting that she deserves a large chunk of his estimated £30million fortune, if and when it goes through.
Hall, who was married to Clarkson for six months in 1989, said that Frances’s undeterred support for the TV personality throughout his financially lucrative career meant that she would be entitled to a generous settlement.
And not just because she was married to him for 21 years, either: Frances also had the unenviable task of serving as Clarkson’s manager.
“She has done her penance,” Hall told the Daily Telegraph. “It is her hard work that has made him into the idol he is today.
“Jeremy is the frontman but behind the scenes she was the swan paddling frantically beneath the surface.
“So she deserves every penny she gets – she worked for it.”
Clarkson married Frances in 1993 – the same year that Hall, who had left the presenter for one of his closest friends, also tied the knot.
However, she claims that soon into their second marriages, she began seeing her ex-husband again –allegations that have been vehemently denied by Clarkson, who attempted to place a gagging order on Hall by taking out a High Court injunction that banned her from discussing him with the media.
In 2011, it was dropped after rumours of their rekindled romance began circulating online. Hall had hired the assistance of the now jailed 'King of Spin' Max Clifford to orchestrate her publicity, who was sentenced to eight years last week for sexually assaulting teenage girls.
But in the face of adversity, Hall still appeared to have some warm words for her former husband, describing her own reaction to news of his second divorce as “pragmatically detached and indifferent” as she claims no longer has romantic feelings for him. She did, however, label Clarkson “a decent, loyal and honourable man” – but had no comment on recent allegations of racism made against him.
She said that she and Frances Clarkson were “not friends or anything”, but nonetheless offered some words of advice on their marital situation.
“I think she had her head in the sand. So every time Jeremy said, ‘No, nothing’s going on, it’s just a bit of malarkey’, she believed him,” she said on his rumoured – and dismissed – infidelities.
“She will have a newfound freedom now, but she became famous as a result of him and she may struggle with that. It’s not an easy thing to deal with – you are always ‘Jeremy Clarkson’s ex’.”
She added that she wished the couple “all the luck and a happy, healthy, sensible divorce”.
“I don’t think he ever loved his wife – he loved me,” she said. “He did say once that he never ever wanted to feel so bad ever again. So he blocked everything out.”
She also said that she believes Clarkson has finally found love with Phillipa Sage, the events organiser he works with on Top Gear.
“When I first saw the pictures in the paper, I knew that he had fallen in love with her,” she continued.
“I think he will be very happy with her. I think he’s a serial monogamist, I don’t think he’s a fly-by-night philanderer.”
In 2011, Clarkson was pictured kissing Sage during a world tour with his Top Gear co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May. Clarkson shrugged off the claims, saying he and Sage had simply been “colleagues fooling around”. Last year, he was photographed kissing that same colleague on holiday in Greece.
It is thought that Clarkson’s relationship with Sage has put a strain on his marriage to Frances, who he has been living apart from for the last three years.
A spokesperson for Clarkson has declined to comment.
Frances Clarkson told reporters on Sunday (4 May) that she did not “want to make a comment at this time” on the reports. Asked whether she could confirm or deny the rumours, she answered bluntly: “No.”
News of his divorce comes after a week of career hell for Clarkson.
The Top Gear presenter was accused of being a racist when un-broadcast footage of him appearing to mumble the word ‘n****r’ while reciting a derogatory rhyme was leaked to the press.
It resulted in some stern words from BBC bosses and a final warning, and some words of support from co-presenter James May, the Secretary of State for Eduction Michael Gove and the man no-one could possibly want sticking up for them, UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
He also released a grovelling video apology, in which he declared he’d taken steps to ensure he hadn’t said the offensive word, but admitted that his efforts “obviously were not good enough”.
None of this, of course, was helped by the fact he’d recently come under fire for naming his black pet dog ‘Didier Dogba’ (yes, after the black footballer), and made a derogatory reference to Asian people during a recent episode of Top Gear (read about that here).
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