It’s been a wild month for now former Top Gear Star Jeremy Clarkson, whose contract for the popular television show was not renewed by The BBC, following an altercation with one of the show’s producers.
But what exactly led to all of this hubbub over the sacking of arguably the most identifiable person on The BBC, if not all of British television?
Bob Sorokanich of Car and Driver took a deep dive into the chaotic firestorm over the dismissal, noting just how much Clarkson had it coming after a long series of controversies and insensitive remarks. Here’s what he had to say:
Forget about the one million e-signatures from Top Gear fans, symbolically delivered to BBC headquarters by a half-assed knockoff Stig in a rented tank. The BBC had no choice but to can Clarkson. If he was any other, lesser BBC employee, Clarkson’s firing would have been amazingly swift and entirely unquestioned. You and I can’t get away with throwing hissy fits and decking our co-workers and hope to keep our jobs. But since Clarkson is the most popular man on the BBC, and since Top Gear is that organization’s most profitable product, and especially since Clarkson’s boorishness had his job prospects hanging by a thread already, we got the drawn-out, tabloid-fueled circus that we’re all, frankly, a little sick of hearing about.
Sorokanich’s mentions of the struggles The BBC had over how to respond to the incident is a patented case of deciding between what’s good for business and what’s good for the well being of a workplace environment, not to mention the public appearance of it all.
Top Gear has long been the king of automotive programming, and like Sorokanich brings up, the most profitable show on The BBC. If you’re an executive, it’s hard to damage that. But it shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision given Clarkson’s progressively worsening behavior.
This of course includes a racist joke in Burma and a controversial trip to Argentina in 2014, a previous trek to Mexico that included insensitive jabs from Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, along with a near-decade-ago incident in which Clarkson made light of homosexuality.
Put it all together and The BBC had to let him go. And now the question stands of what’s next for him. As Sorokanich explains, it could be a digital outlet like Netflix.
Streaming would give Clarkson full reign and take him out of the big corporate stranglehold of The BBC, the most powerful broadcaster in the world.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see what comes of the Clarkson mess. At least the drama with Top Gear is seemingly past us.