There are supposedly no irreplaceable people in the work world.
There are, however, people in the media world who are so identified with their work that they really cannot be replaced. Paul Harvey was one. Heaven help the eventual replacement for the Dodgers’ Vin Scully.
Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed after an “unprovoked physical attack” on a Top Gear producer, the BBC’s director general has confirmed.
Tony Hall said he had “not taken this decision lightly” and recognised it would “divide opinion”.
However, he added “a line has been crossed” and he “cannot condone what has happened on this occasion”.
Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, following what was called a “fracas” with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon.
The row, which took place in a Yorkshire hotel, was said to have occurred because no hot food was provided following a day’s filming.
An internal investigation began last week, led by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland.
It found that Mr Tymon took himself to hospital after he was subject to an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack”.
“During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip.”
It lasted “around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness,” Mr MacQuarrie noted in his report.
“The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period” and “contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack” Mr Tymon, who believed he had lost his job.
Mr Tymon did not file a formal complaint and it is understood Clarkson reported himself to BBC bosses following the incident.
After that, the BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen, felt he had no choice but to suspend the presenter pending an investigation. …
Jeremy Clarkson took a slightly dull and failing car programme and turned it in to the biggest factual TV show in the world.
But this sacking has nothing to do with style, opinions, popularity – or even his language on the show.
It’s about what stars are allowed to get away with off screen, a topic that’s been top of the agenda for the BBC in recent months.
The corporation has had to overhaul all of its policies and attitudes towards bullying and harassment, and a long verbal tirade and a physical assault would have crossed the line for any member of staff.
Clarkson may be popular with the audience, and the BBC really did not want to lose him, but this was a star who admitted he was on his final warning and a corporation that was under intense scrutiny over what its top talent can and cannot get away with.
Top Gear, which is one of BBC Two’s most popular programmes, will continue without Clarkson, who will now become the subject of a bidding war by other broadcasters.
The magazine show is one of the BBC’s biggest properties, with overseas sales worth an estimated £50m a year for the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. …
Whether Clarkson’s co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond will remain on the show has yet to be confirmed.
All three had their contracts up for renewal this year, with Clarkson’s due to expire at the end of March.
Hammond tweeted: “Gutted at such a sad end to an era. We’re all three of us idiots in our different ways but it’s been an incredible ride together.”
May also updated his Twitter profile to say: “Former TV presenter”.
This is most likely the end of the original Top Gear as we know it. (Though Clarkson and his colleagues may well end up on another British channel on another show, as a Facebook friend predicted Wednesday.)
The considerable irony here is that had Clarkson been an American media figure he probably would not have been fired. We Americans are the supposed prudes, and yet for decades people in the entertainment world have gotten away with actions far worse than this (see Polanski, Roman) and maintained their jobs. Notice that after “misremembering” his exploits in Iraq NBC hasn’t fired Brian Williams … yet. Keith Olbermann is, to use the name of one of his segments, apparently The Worst Person in the World to work with, and yet he moves from one employer to another.
On the other hand, some of the things Clarkson has said over the years probably would have gotten him fired here. Clarkson fits the British definition of “politically incorrect,” and once called former British prime minister Gordon Brown … a term that will certainly not be reprinted here. (No, it doesn’t start with the letter F. It’s worse.) That’s a bit ironic given that the U.S. has the First Amendment and Britain has no counterpart, but on this side of the Atlantic free speech is not unlimited, particularly when it offends the chronically offended.
Facebook Friend Larry L. Tebo compares Clarkson with the great American car writers:
Love him or otherwise, Jeremy Clarkson stands apart from every other living automotive journalist simply due to the fact that he has so much STYLE. I’ve loved great automotive journalists since I was a boy first reading Ken Purdy’s prose and even the pedestrian-but-informative output of Floyd Clymer. I loved Brock Yates gonzo style and incisiveness, and David E. Davis’ intelligence, wit, and again…..STYLE led an entire generation of car guys to the promised land of “no boring cars”, and indeed, no boring stories. Charles Fox wrote about cars with a feeling of beauty in his words. Jean Shepherd wrote about everything, but when he wrote about automobiles, as he did for quite some time as a monthly columnist in Car and Driver, he brought the human spirit of warmth along with his incomparable humor to the subject, making cars much more than just machines. That’s what all these writers did with cars, and that is what makes them so special. Clarkson is almost like a distillation of all of these greats, IMO, into one very cranky, very funny, very irritating, yet a very ingratiating person who commands attention because he is so damned GOOD at what he does.
Why is Clarkson so important in the car world? Jalopnik explains:
The third biggest loser in this sad saga of Top Gear is the wider car media, and the business that surrounds it. Of course the first is the vast fan base that has followed the show for many years. The second, assuming the brand struggles to survive, is the team who work on it – and I can’t imagine how they feel right now. But sitting here it strikes me that so many people also engaged in this business of writing or making films about cars haven’t stopped to understand just what Top Gear did for all us ordinary folk. Nor what it did for the car industry in general.
Top Gear has acted like some vast, entirely free marketing service for all of us. I have always viewed it as the primary sales funnel for my videos, and the analytics support the theory: 350 million people watch the three boys doing their thing on a Sunday night and a very small percentage think they might want to know a bit more about the car featured that week, and so they type the car’s name into YouTube and they might just happen across one of our low-budget productions. A very small percentage of 350 million is still a very large number.
I’m like that little, nagging fish constantly nibbling a whale shark’s barnacles. I’m a TG parasite, and it’s worked bloody well for me up to now.
More importantly Jeremy, James and Richard have not just maintained the public’s love affair with the motor car, they’ve grown it – a feat I’d have thought impossible ten years ago in the face of political and environmental pressures. The conventional car print media – the one I have always been a part of – has failed in many ways with dwindling circulations and diminished influence, but its biggest crime is a total failure to connect with a younger audience. Thankfully for all of us, Top Gear’s role as compulsory Sunday night family viewing has excited a whole new generation of youngsters to not only be interested in cars, but to love cars. And for that I think it has already shaped the car industry as we currently know it, and how it will be in the future.
I suspect Clarkson and his colleagues will reappear elsewhere. Clarkson is the indispensable man of “Top Gear.” (The lack of him is why the U.S. “Top Gear” is severely lacking.)