BBC sacks Jeremy Clarkson over fracas with producer

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 25, 2015 22:33 IST

Controversial TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson's contract for the hit show Top Gear will not be renewed after an "unprovoked physical attack" on a producer, the BBC said on Wednesday.

Clarkson's contract was due to expire at end of the month and the move by the BBC effectively amounted to the sacking of the presenter who is no stranger to controversy.

BBC director general Tony Hall said he had "not taken this decision lightly" but Clarkson's dismissal had become unavoidable. He also recognised it would "divide opinion".

"For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations," Hall said.

Clarkson was suspended on March 10 after a "fracas" with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. The outburst occurred after Clarkson, one of BBC's highest paid stars, was told he could not have steak and chips after a day's filming in Yorkshire because the hotel where the team was staying had stopped serving hot food.

An internal BBC investigation found that Tymon went to hospital after he was subjected to an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" lasting around 30 seconds. The report said: "During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip."

"The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period" and "contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack" Tymon, the report added.

Top Gear attracts more than five million viewers in Britain alone and an estimated 350 million worldwide. It is BBC2's most popular show and generates about 50 million pounds a year from worldwide sales.

Hall acknowledged Clarkson's role in popularising the show. "This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear," he said.

The BBC said Top Gear will continue without Clarkson.

The decision to sack Clarkson came in the face of a high-profile campaign for his restoration that was backed by the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron and his daughter Nancy. Cameron joked his daughter had threatened to go on hunger strike unless the BBC reinstated Clarkson.

Clarkson has had numerous run-ins with the BBC's bosses for racist and off-colour jokes while presenting Top Gear.

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