In a story that’s divided opinion in households and on Facebook walls across the nation, Top Gear presenter (and arguably the saggy face of the entire show) Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from the show. 7
For those of you who don’t know (and where the hell have you been if you don’t?) the furor began with Clarko’s suspension on March 10th over his alleged punching of producer Oisin Tymon in an argument over no hot food being provided at a Yorkshire hotel after a days filming.
When I was younger (back in the mists of the mid noughties) I bloody loved Top Gear. Despite the protests of my Mother, it was essential Sunday evening viewing, and we’d delight at the increasingly ridiculous stunts and near-the-knuckle ‘banter’ (to use the words actual meaning before it was co-opted by vest wearing twats). The special episodes, particularly the American trip, are still fantastic viewing, even in light of what has happened.
Then something changed. Perhaps I grew up, and became the overly sensitive leftie leaning Guardian reader I am often accused of being, but to my mind, the show rapidly decreased in quality. It, and subsequently the presenters, became parodies. It wasn’t about fast cars any more, it was about offending the international community with crude jokes and promoting a daftly ‘middle England’ mindset.
But regardless of your opinions on Clarkson and co’s provocative words about Mexico and so on, what has happened here can be simplified and judged irrespective of what has previously occurred: Jeremy Clarkson committed a crime. That crime was done in the workplace, to a colleague, and he should be absolutely held accountable.
What the legions of e-petitioners and tank-riding stigs seem to be ignoring is that celebrities aren’t (despite what various court rulings would seem to indicate) above the same laws as us mere mortals. I challenge each and every one of you to walk into work, lamp another member of staff for very little reason, and not immediately be fired and, likely, face prosecution.
Oisin Tymon is every bit as responsible for the show you love airing as Clarkson is. He was a producer for six years, wrangling the presenters, setting up the action millions tune in for, and what has he got to show for it? Death threats for having the audacity to not successfully pander to a middle-aged television hosts drunken sense of entitlement. Many seem to be ignoring the impact this will have on the career of the man on the receiving end of the punch rather than the man giving it.
But perhaps I’m overly simplifying it. Millions, both at home and abroad, love the show, and fully accept Clarkson, Hammond and May’s brand of risque ‘comedy’. For better or worse, the show is a brand, and it acts as the prime export of the BBC World service in many nations. If the show tanks ratings with the addition of a new presenter, or the three old boys are poached by a rival network, the Beeb will lose millions of pounds of revenue.
But where does that money primarily come from? You and me, who pay the license fee. Are we paying our hard-earned money to bankroll the excesses and lifestyles of those who abuse others, verbally or physically? These people are influential and inspirational for the young and old alike, and they should be held to the same standards (perhaps more stringent ones) than the rest of us.
But then again, he did punch Piers Morgan. So that’s fine, isn’t it?