Jeremy Clarkson, the hugely popular host of the car show Top Gear who relishes the politically incorrect and has gotten on the bad side of India and many others because of it, has been suspended by the BBC for allegedly punching a producer.
“Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Clarkson has been suspended pending investigation. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday,” the BBC said in a statement. The show attracts 350 million viewers a week across 170 countries. No episode of the show will be telecast till the BBC revokes his suspension, which may take a while, if at all.
Moments after the suspension was announced, fans set up a petition urging his reinstatement. It has already received 250,000 signatures.
The 54-year-old outspoken presenter was already on a final warning over his alleged use of racist language during a taping of the show in Argentina.
The Sun newspaper, in which Clarkson writes a regular column, quoted him as saying: “I’m having a nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over.” It also quotes a “source close to the star” denying Clarkson punched anyone.
Clarkson has courted controversy before, In July he was criticised for using an “offensive racial term” in an episode on Myanmar.
Similarly, in an episode on India telecast on Christmas Day 2011, Clarkson described a car fitted with a toilet as “perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.” The Indian high commission complained to the BBC, stating, “The programme was replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity. This is not clearly what we expect of the BBC.”
Top Gear has previously got into hot water over its depictions of Albanians, Romanians and Germans, and the BBC apologised to Mexico after the show described Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.
In the car-based show, Clarkson drives around in various countries and interacts with the locals, often making irreverent comments laced with British humour. Many viewers, including Indians, enjoy the programme, but not all share the fun.