They both loath one another yet they both need the other, one is to the left and the other self-right-eous. They are two polar opposites facing one another in a crowded lift, nose to nose, uncomfortable and overbearing at the same moment. This is the seething relationship that has defined Jeremy Clarkson’s career at the BBC. The relationship works because its not meant to and its binding agent is multi-millon pounds worth of TV revenue.
Clarkson isn’t one to mince his words and will happily criticise the ‘beeb’ at any moment, you could say its about control but it is really about competing visions, its about egos clashing like two boxers. Although from what we know Clarkson is reported to have punched a Top Gear producer over the most infinitesimally trivial of matters.
The BBC has corporate compliance to adhere to Clarkson just does what ever the hell he wants. Its like a positive and negative magnate repelling the other, its a relationship nevertheless and its a very successful if often fraught partnership. Top Gear has become a global success thanks to TV deals, the sheer entertainment value and Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous and belligerent personality.
Like it or not Clarkson is at the heart of Top Gear’s success, its painful to admit but he has re-invented the dull TV car show format. When Clarkson quit his first stint at Top Gear the show went rapidly into decline and it was pulled from the TV schedules. When he began his second stint it was back to business and the show has gone from strength to strength.
But all that may now be coming to an end after Jeremy Clarkson was recorded at a charity event in London telling the assembled audience that he expects the BBC to sack him over ‘fracas-gate’. Clarkson said “I don’t know when I did my last ever lap of the track, before the BBC sacks me,”
Clarkson was at the Roundhouse Gala on Thursday where he is recorded to have said “I didn’t foresee my sacking, but I would like to do one last lap. I’ll go down to Surrey and I’ll do one last lap of that track before the BBC sack me. And I’ll drive somebody around in whatever I can get hold of when I’m sacked, so it’s probably an Austin Maestro.”
Clarkson also had one or two unpalatable things to say about the BBC top brass, the corporation will complete an investigation into the incident by next week. The BBC said it would “not be offering further commentary” regarding Clarkson’s comments. It is clear that Clarkson seems genuinely remorseful about his conduct although his love hate relationship with the BBC remains consistent.
Clarkson is outspoken, we know that, and sometimes he sounds like a UKIP candidate but no one person is bigger than the BBC. That’s what the executives say, who really should have dealt with the matter behind closed doors. We’re no Clarkson apologists but it seems the BBC top brass are bigger than the corporation.
Will Clarkson be sacked from the BBC? who knows. Clarkson certainly doesn’t and it seems his comments at the charity event are preemptive rather than based on fact. But the fact is Clarkson is almost irreplaceable, Top Gear will go on without him someday but it will never be the same. Its kind of like replacing Bart Simpson’s voice artist with a dog, or replacing the Klu Klux Klan with the Clampetts from the Beverley Hillbillies. or should that be the other way round.