BBC suspends presenter

Top Gear series pulled over claim Clarkson ‘punched’ producer

Jeremy ClarksonThe suspension of BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson followed a punch aimed at a producer of the show, according to an account of the incident.

Earlier the corporation announced that Sunday’s episode had been pulled, but the Radio Times says all three remaining episodes of the series have been withdrawn from the schedules.

It is understood the alleged assault on a male producer was only reported to the BBC yesterday and the decision to suspend the controversial presenter was taken early today.

The corporation is holding an investigation into the events and until then Mr Clarkson will remain suspended.

According to the Radio Times, the final two episodes have been replaced by a documentary about the Caribbean featuring Simon Reeve and a Louis Theroux documentary.

A statement from the corporation said: “Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.”

Next Sunday’s show was set to feature Clarkson and fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May getting to grips with classic cars including a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 Cabriolet with ex-footballer and presenter Gary Lineker the “star in a reasonably priced car”.

This latest incident follows the team having to flee Argentina in a row over the number plate on the car Mr Clarkson was driving. 

Other complaints include his use of the n-word, claims that people who throw themselves under trains are selfish, and for stating that striking workers should be shot.

But the BBC faces a terrible dilemma over what to do with its maverick presenter. Mr Clarkson has always maintained that he is joking and being ironic.

As for the corporation, it has a lot to lose by firing him. Top Gear is sold around the world and is believed to generate more than £20m in profits and £150m in revenue a year. Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip was the UK’s best-selling DVD in 2013.

Less than 24 hours after his suspension, a petition calling for him to be reinstated attracted more than 300,000 signatures and shoo shot above half a million. Inevitably there has been speculation that another broadcaster would be interested in signing him up, notably Sky which has deep enough pockets to match his £1m BBC salary.

BBC Scotland controller Ken MacQuarrie will chair the disciplinary panel.

Mr Clarkson has made no comment about today’s suspension.

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