A line has been crossed

Jeremy Clarkson is baaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaack.

Jeremy Clarkson is set to make his first appearance on the BBC since losing his job as co-presenter on Top Gear.

The controversial broadcaster will appear as the guest host of Have I Got News for You on 24 April.

“Jeremy’s contract has not been renewed on Top Gear but he isn’t banned from appearing on the BBC,” a BBC spokesman said.

Oh. There was me thinking the BBC actually didn’t want him around any more, on account of that thing he does where he hits underlings in the face and calls them fucking cunts at the top of his lungs in posh hotels. But no, they just didn’t want him around on that one programme any more.

Clarkson has hosted the satirical news quiz on numerous occasions.

During one appearance in 2008, he threw a pen at regular panellist Ian Hislop that left the latter with a cut on his face.

So I guess they’re hoping he’ll do more of that kind of thing, because it’s so amusing for the audience.

Following an internal investigation, the BBC announced on 25 March Clarkson’s contract on Top Gear would not be renewed.

More than a million fans signed a petition to reinstate the presenter, but BBC director general Tony Hall said “a line has been crossed” and “there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another”.

When it comes to this one programme. When it comes to other programmes – oh well that’s completely different. Then there totally can be one rule for one and a different rule for another. On Top Gear Clarkson is totally persona non grata – the BBC has dissasociated itself from Jeremy Clarkson, you might say – but on everything else he’s as welcome as gin at a picnic.

On Tuesday, North Yorkshire Police said there was “no need for further action” against Clarkson following an inquiry into the “fracas”.

Because all he did was punch someone in the face and split his lip. No biggy – unless a poor or foreign or black person does it, of course.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    Or, leaving aside the hysterical hyperbole:
    Clarkson had a contract to appear in Top Gear. As a result of his actions, that extremely lucrative contract will not be renewed.
    Clarkson had a contract to host a single episode of HIGNFY. As a result of his actions, that contract is unlikely to be renewed, or repeated. However, the decision to honour the contract is the sensible and cheapest option for the BBC, and makes perfect sense.
    For those who are ignorant of the history of the programme, it used to have a regular host, Angus Deayton. That was until 2002, when tabloid revelations about his use of cocaine and prostitutes made him the top story on the programme. He was forced to resign from the show, and his last episode was (for him) an embarrassing debacle. There were persistent rumours of friction between him and regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, and IH and PM took the opportunity to everything they could to shame him as much as possible. The look of weary defeat on his face at the end of his last show was a picture.
    Saying that being “allowed” to host HIGNFY at this point is a reward for Clarkson is to fundamentally misunderstand how the programme works, and doing so suggests that whoever says it has either never actually seen it at any point in the last 25 years. Being required to host it – being required to sit and smile through gritted teeth through what will, one hopes, be a savage public shaming – is more like a punishment.
    At least, that’s what it should be, and what it’s overwhelmingly like to be. Time will tell.

  2. opposablethumbs says

    And leaving aside the testerical condescension, sonofrojblake … to suggest that it’s “sensible” of the BBC to let him continue appearing on any show of theirs is certainly debatable.
    It would be some mitigation if the show’s a débâcle and his last ever appearance on hignfy, but it would speak better of the Beeb’s integrity (such as it is) if they simply kept him off their screens for good. I hope Merton and Hislop do grill the repellent pos – but I’m not going to be holding my breath; they’re not averse to being seen as good old lads either.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    It’s “sensible” from a purely financial point of view. The whole thing is already going to cost the BBC – which, lest we forget, means it’s going to cost me and other licence-fee payers like me – millions, based purely on the loss of (the current incarnation of) Top Gear. To petulantly renege on an existing contract for a single appearance on another show and likely still have pay Clarkson for his non-appearance would be tantamount to malfeasance. The best we can hope is that they do make it his final ever appearance and make it as uncomfortable as possible, given that they’ll be paying him five figures for it. There was a minor storm of complaints when Jonathan Ross did a stand-in slot on Radio 2 six years after the prank that cost him is hugely lucrative BBC contract. I don’t see Clarkson being rehabilitated that quickly, if ever, given the way more serious nature of his offence.

  4. John Morales says

    sonofrojblake, Ophelia refers to this (my emphasis):

    Announcing his decision, [BBC’s director general] Lord Hall said Clarkson’s dismissal was unavoidable.

    “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.”

    Fine, you think that “It’s “sensible” from a purely financial point of view.”, but it sure seems like Lord Hall was bullshitting.

  5. says

    sonofrojblake makes a valid point about BBC’s contractual obligations and the financial consequences of dumping Clarkson from HIGNFY (assuming the facts he’s cited, of course); but in this case, I think that Clarkson’s physical violence against other BBC employees would, or at least damn well should, merit a blanket dismissal from any and all BBC activities. Deterring workplace harassment and violence should be more important than honoring a contract. Refusing to stick up for one’s own employees’ basic safety and dignity, just to save money, should never be an option.

  6. says

    Also, shouldn’t the BBC have had clauses in their contracts saying that you can be dumped, and lose any subsequent compensation, if you’re found to have committed gross malfeasance? People who act like this on planes or conventions get kicked off without a refund; so why not have a similar penalty for similar actions in one’s place of work?

  7. sonofrojblake says

    Refusing to stick up for one’s own employees’ basic safety and dignity, just to save money, should never be an option

    His contract will not be renewed, and the result is that what is by far the BBC’s most lucrative product is gone. They ARE sticking up for their employee (Oisin Tymon), even to their enormous financial detriment. It is hyperbolic to suggest that by not reneging on the pre-existing contract to present one edition of HIGNFY they are endangering anyone’s safety, now or in the future. Does anyone seriously contend that there is a realistic possibility of someone being assaulted at that recording? That it has not been made clear that his conduct was unacceptable and made his continued employment untenable, even though he was arguably the single most valuable piece of “talent” the BBC employ?

    (If I was a writer on HIGNFY I’d be suggesting that the show opens with a burly man standing behind each of the panelists, and require Clarkson to explain that they are bodyguards there for the protection of BBC employees from any possibility of assault by bitter, recently sacked presenters.)

  8. Bluntnose says

    There’s no doubt that Clarkson will get a going over on HIGNFY, but I think he will enjoy it.

  9. says

    It’s worth noting that Clarkson’s HIGNFY appearance was known as far back as 17 March. See this Guardian news item:

    “His appearance, understood to have been arranged before the latest controversy, has the potential to be hugely embarrassing for the BBC”


    But HIGNFY is produced by Hat Trick, an independent company, for the BBC. So the contract would presumably be with them rather than directly with the BBC. But I don’t actually know how that works.

    Anyway, back then Jimmy Mulville was saying, “We always have a field day with Jeremy … Maybe we will get the producer on so he can hit Jeremy Clarkson live on television.”


    “Asked whether Clarkson would be allowed to take part in the BBC1 show, Mulville told a Broadcasting Press Guild breakfast: “I’m about to find out.
    “As far as I’m concerned he is hosting Have I Got News For You in early May. The BBC haven’t told me what to do yet. It’ll be an interesting conversation.”
    He added: “I think he’s a fantastic broadcaster and I concentrate on that. He’s due to host the third episode.”

    Clarkson has also been a panellist on QI in the past, so will be interesting to see if he appears there again.

  10. says

    Does anyone seriously contend that there is a realistic possibility of someone being assaulted at that recording?

    You tell us — does anyone here contend that? Got a citation? Of course not, because that’s not the only point here; there’s also the bit about giving CLEAR signals that certain behavior will not be tolerated. Booting the perp off of one show, but then allowing him to appear on another, is not a clear signal. Just like firing a dirty cop from one police force, but then allowing to serve part-time on another, is not a clear signal that dirty cops are not welcome.

  11. says

    As for the possibility of another violent incident, well, yeah, he’s done it before, so what’s so outlandish about thinking he might do it again?

  12. says

    If he punches someone else it will be Jimmy Mulville and hat-tricks problem, not the BBC’s.

    And Mulville has form when it comes to needling the BBC.

    Lord Hall has just turned down Mulvilles offer of £100 million for the about to be defunct BBC3 brand on matters of “principal” rather than commerce as far as I can see.

    It cost(iirc) 60 billion to create the brand and the BBC is just going to discontinue it, so Mulville said he’d buy it.

    £20 odd K for one appearance by JC or £5,900,000,000 ? I know which is the biggest waste of my money.

  13. carlie says

    Shouldn’t the BBC be worried about the liability if he does assault someone? If he does, even if he’s totally goaded into it, they can turn around and sue the BBC for putting a former employee they had already banned because of assualt in a room with them for a show.

  14. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Oh come on, I have no idea why the guy excites folk so much. Jeremy Clarkson is known for being the second most obnoxious git in England. The only guy who tops him being George Galloway.

    But really, is he as bad as Rush Limbaugh? If he was doing the same sort of stuff in the US, would people even notice? Bill Maher gets away with saying worse on a regular basis and can pass himself off as a progressive.

    The guy has been sacked from his regular presenter gig. We don’t need to make a martyr of him.

  15. says

    If people really want to get their knickers in a twist over what another countries public service broadcaster is doing, I think I’m going to point out that during all this pearl clutching and fainting away, Clarkeson has been on prime time bbc TV every night as BBC3 has been re-running old episodes of Top Gear as usual.


    I’m pretty sure they will be paying him a repeat fee.

  16. sonofrojblake says

    @Phillip Hallam-Baker:

    Two words: Piers Morgan.

    Should the BBC be worried? No, because whatever else he is, Clarkson isn’t a complete fucking idiot. He’s going to grin and bear whatever anyone says to him, before, during and after the recording of the show, and then he’s going to get a less-prestigious but better paid job with a commercial broadcaster. That’s how it works.

  17. sonofrojblake says

    during all this pearl clutching and fainting away, […] BBC3 has been re-running old episodes of Top Gear as usual

    “Dave” (a TV channel jointly owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive (?) and available on cable, satellite and online) has SIX episodes of Top Gear scheduled… today. Tomorrow’s Saturday, so there’ll only be two episodes. Not to worry, though, there’ll be another five on Sunday and then on Monday back to normal with another six, and so on for the rest of the week/year/century probably. It’s one of the channel’s core shows.

    The same channel also shows Top of the Pops 2, an archive show of performances from TOTP of years gone by. They got in trouble last September for broadcasting a segment featuring Jimmy Savile. Doubt that’ll happen again. I also doubt there’ll be much chance of seeing any archive footage of Gary Glitter or Jonathan King – saw a Youtube clip the other day of Savile introducing the latter on TOTP from the sixties. Chilling.

  18. kosk11348 says

    Does anyone seriously contend that there is a realistic possibility of someone being assaulted at that recording?

    I do. It’s a realistic possibility. Clarkson has a history of violence.

    During one appearance in 2008, he threw a pen at regular panellist Ian Hislop that left the latter with a cut on his face.

    Is there a reason why this on-camera blood-letting doesn’t qualify as an assault in your book?

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