12 March 2015

End of the road for Clarkson?

The BBC suspends Jeremy Clarkson, and has he taken a step too far? What could happen if they sack Clarkson or if they keep him...

OUTSPOKEN, irreverent, arrogant, obnoxious and politically incorrect is what many would describe Jeremy Clarkson. He has a penchant for controversy, which has landed him in hot water a few times, but has also brought Top Gear and the BBC into disrepute.

He has got away with it pretty lightly with the outrageous comments and remarks he has made in the past. Those who defend Clarkson will argue that they 'need to get a sense of humour and stop being petty' about it. For those reasons itself, makes Clarkson a Marmite figure that people love or loathe about him.

Yet again, Clarkson has got himself into a bit of bother after allegedly punching a Top Gear producer, after a row broke out over catering when filming on location in Newcastle. 

The BBC has swiftly acted upon it this time round, and has suspended him until further notice pending an investigation. The broadcaster has also postponed the latest Top Gear series on BBC Two with the ‘fracas’ over Clarkson.

With him suspended, a dilemma the BBC faces is whether or not they should sack Jeremy Clarkson.

Top Gear is hugely popular but occasionally controversial.

Top Gear is one of the programmes by the BBC (who also own the name and rights to the show) accounts for a lot of revenue the Corporation makes. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has sold the Top Gear format worldwide.

It is watched by around 350 million people worldwide, making it one of the Beeb's most lucrative products alongside EastEnders, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing. The Top Gear magazine is also the UK's best selling motoring magazine - which Clarkson also writes for too.

Jeremy Clarkson is without doubt, the most famous and possibly the most popular presenter on Top Gear. Asides from the cars, many will watch the show because of Clarkson. As he is so synonymous with Top Gear, the show without Clarkson could be rather like Only Fools and Horses without Del Boy, or Doctor Who without the Tardis.

Due to Top Gear's popularity, it goes without saying that he has a fan base. It's proven so with an online petition (at the time of writing) reaching over half a million signatures, a plea to the BBC for Clarkson to keep his job.

You could go far and say that Clarkson boosted the popularity of original format of Top Gear in the 1990s when he presented it with Tiff Needell, Quentin Willson and Vicki Butler-Henderson. He came onto the show as a loud proud petrolhead, and talked about the things we liked about in a car that many car enthusiasts like to know and hear about.

Performance, power, handling, value for money, what street cred you can gain from it or even attract the opposite sex with that car. The tongue in the cheek humour is what many like about Clarkson with the irreverent metaphors when he reviews the cars he drives.

If the BBC makes the decision on showing Jeremy Clarkson the door, it is more than likely that they will make heavy losses. They are well aware how much revenue he and Top Gear makes.

History will tell you that Top Gear's popularity (in original format) had plummeted after Clarkson's departure which lead to the BBC axing the show. In all but name, the show moved to Channel 5 and that became Fifth Gear. Those will be one of the very reasons the BBC will not sack Clarkson.

It will be argued though, that if Clarkson has thrown a punch at a colleague at his workplace. Then that is gross misconduct and a sackable offence. If anyone else did it in their workplace, they would be sacked. No matter how much of an asset he is to the company, or how much money he makes for it.

If the BBC keep Clarkson after issuing him his final warning. It could reflect badly on the BBC being hypocritical, and that there's one rule for Jeremy Clarkson and one rule for everyone else. It would appear that the BBC would keep him because of how much revenue he and Top Gear makes.

Also putting into consideration is his track record of controversial remarks. Many people also have the perception that Clarkson's views and opinions are those of the BBC. For many who watch Top Gear and have seen him on TV know well.

What spouts out of Clarkson’s mouth shouldn’t be taken seriously or taken personally. There's no excuse for some of his gaffes that are trying to be funny — which is in bad taste. What you find funny or what you find offensive is really down to your sense of humour.

With him bringing the broadcaster into disrepute on a few occasions, that itself can also influence the BBC's decision to whether or not they will sack Clarkson. It has been reported though that he has been issued with a 'final warning' by the BBC.

So is this end of the road for Jeremy Clarkson? At the BBC it could well be, and possibly spawn the beginning of the end for Top Gear should that happen. It will be interesting to see what they will do with the show if that is the outcome.

Should Clarkson leave the BBC, will it be the end of his career? Definitely not, the likes of ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky know how popular he is and they'd have him on a TV show broadcast on their channels with a heartbeat. They'd bite his arm off.

It's not just in television, motoring magazines like Autocar or Car would probably have Clarkson writing a column for them too. He also writes columns for newspapers like The Sun and The Sunday Times. So he won't be out of a job anyway.

Instead of speculating, it is best to watch this space...

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