The BBC officially announced this week that it would not be renewing Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, effectively firing him from his position as a presenter on Top Gear. Clarkson’s fellow presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, have been incredibly supportive of him through this whole process, and since they refuse to shoot without Clarkson, it appears that the greatest car show ever made is dead. Obviously there are millions of fans who are disappointed to see their favorite show come to an end, but at the same time, the BBC had no choice. Firing Jeremy Clarkson was the right decision.
Personally, I’ve been a fan of the show for years, and still am. All of us on staff at Autos Cheat Sheet are. I don’t actually remember the first time that I saw Top Gear, but it has to have been close to 10 years ago. As far as I’m concerned, it’s always been on, and it’s always been the best show on television. Heck, Top Gear is part of the reason I ended up becoming a car writer. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May clearly had the best jobs in the world, and while the odds of me ever actually working with them were incredibly low, I set out to figure out how to replicate it as best as possible.
I have tremendous respect for the whole team, but I especially respect Jeremy Clarkson for how he nearly single-handedly built Top Gear into the powerhouse that it is. Since the relaunch, it’s gotten so popular and influential that it’s nearly impossible to find a single car review that doesn’t at least borrow something from Top Gear. It’s changed the world of automotive journalism, and a lot of that is thanks to the hard work and vision of Jeremy Clarkson. It also makes the BBC a huge amount of money, reportedly generating more than £50 million per year.
Unfortunately, despite how loyal his following is, how influential his TV show is, and how much money he makes the company, Clarkson had to go. He did a stupid thing, and now he has to face the consequences. Grown men solve their problems with their words, not by punching people in the face. When you try to solve your problems by punching people in the face, the police get involved, and you get in trouble. If that person who you punch is a coworker, you get fired. That’s just the way the world works, regardless of your stature in it.
It’s not that I don’t sympathize with Clarkson. Shooting schedules are long, and the work is demanding. I have worked long, demanding shifts as a server before, and I know I would certainly not be happy if my dinner after that had been soup and cold cuts. I understand that Clarkson was probably tired, hungry, and looking forward to finally getting to eat a good meal.
Do you know what I don’t understand, though? I don’t understand punching someone in the face over disappointing snacks. Even if you’re really hungry and that person responds to your snack complaint by saying very mean things to you, you don’t punch him in the face. That’s just not something that grownups do. Sure, you could blame it on Clarkson being “hangry,” but “hangry” is just an excuse that selfish, inconsiderate people use to excuse their bad behavior. Two-year-olds might get “hangry,” but 54-year-old men just get over themselves.
What’s worse is that Top Gear fans are acting just as childish, if not more so. Blaming the producer for the end of Top Gear is absolutely ridiculous. He didn’t even report Clarkson. Clarkson reported himself. Somehow, it’s the producer’s fault for not getting his face out of the way of Clarkson’s fist and then not keeping Clarkson from reporting his misbehavior to the BBC.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where nobody wins, and everybody loses. Firing Jeremy Clarkson might have been necessary, but it isn’t good news. There’s no reason to celebrate anything about this incident. I’m certainly not happy that Clarkson is gone. Top Gear as we know it is probably dead, but the BBC will most likely relaunch it with new presenters. It will never be as good, though. In the end, the BBC loses. Clarkson loses. Hammond and May lose. Oisin Tymon, the producer who got punched, loses. The car world loses. Everybody loses.
It’s sad and disappointing to see Clarkson go, but unfortunately, no matter how much you like someone, the rules still apply to him. He made a very regrettable choice that I’m sure he wishes he could take back, but once you punch someone, you can’t take that back. You have to deal with the consequences, and in this case, that means Clarkson losing his job at Top Gear. Everyone involved with the show is going to land on their feet, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a terribly sad occasion.
I think we all knew that it was inevitable that the best show in the world would eventually end like this, but even so, Jeremy Clarkson will be missed. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he does next, and I still count myself as a loyal fan. If I ever have a tenth of the career that he’s had, I will die one very successful man. Hopefully, though, next time he gets hungry, instead of punching someone, he’ll just grab a Snickers.
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