Wednesday 20 November 2019

I could not be happier to see the back of Jeremy Clarkson and his brand of laddish behaviour

Jeremy Clarkson is not a stranger to controversy
Jeremy Clarkson is not a stranger to controversy
Barbara McCarthy

Barbara McCarthy

I couldn't be happier to see the back of Jeremy Clarkson after BBC director general Tony Hall took the decision to end Clarkson's BBC career "with great regret."

He said the 'Top Gear' presenter had "crossed a line" after a 30-second unprovoked attack on his Irish producer in a hotel, allegedly calling him a "lazy Irish c***" because no hot food was provided following a day's filming. Said producer ended up in A&E, where he was treated for a number of injuries to the face.

It's comforting to see that no one - not even the Beeb's biggest star, whose show brings in over €70m per year and is aired in 170 countries - is above the law. Physically attacking a colleague isn't acceptable, no matter how hungry you are.

I'm all for pushing boundaries of political correctness and certainly don't feel offended because the person Clarkson attacked happened to be Irish, but I do believe that in recent years, he became an objectionable, pompous boor. I spoke to a few people who worked with him and they said he was either rude, arrogant or full of himself, or all three.

You can't take away from Clarkson's achievements by any means, and the show, which is fantastically produced and edited, had some great and funny moments too, but in recent years the rehearsed comments and faux insults amongst the presenters became quite tedious.

I don't have any gripes with wee Richard Hammond or James May and I'm sure it will be a huge blow to them, but there are plenty of capable presenters in the UK, who can take over. After hearing about the sacking, May indicated to the press that he wasn't going to stay with 'Top Gear' and added "Much as I think he's a knob, I quite like working with Jeremy."

He seemed quite shaken by the news that Clarkson was gone. After all, he and Hammond said they'd quit if he goes. They may yet regret such solidarity. Not even a petition signed by 1 million people, asking that Clarkson be reinstated, had any impact.

People like Clarkson think they are irreplaceable and after getting away with offending people from ethic minorities, Argentineans, George Michael (who in turn called him "homophobic" and "pig ugly"), Thai people and the city of Liverpool, amongst others, he became somewhat megalomaniacal.

I remember a TV veteran telling me once years ago; "You think you're irreplaceable and then you walk out on Friday amidst a big fanfare after however many years, but come Monday you're forgotten about. They have another show to produce and when you're gone, you're gone. It's harsh but true."

Luckily for Clarkson, another channel will snap him up soon enough. Numerous parties have expressed an interest, but I can't imagine that he will be able to emulate the same cult following.

Look at what happened to Jonathan Ross after he and Russell Brand made offensive phone calls to veteran actor Andrew Sachs claiming that Brand had slept with his 23 year-old granddaughter in 2008. Ross never recovered and left the BBC quietly a few years later. Many said he should have been sacked on the spot. His show on UTV is nothing like the show he had on BBC. It's tired and he's lost his comedic edge.

In the UK they are often tougher on their celebs and politicians than we are here, though many will argue that they aren't tough enough.

We rarely hear words like 'disgraced banker, disgraced politician or disgraced TV pundit' over here simply because they haven't been publically disgraced, even if they have been disgraceful.

Some will say that Clarkson, with his ill-advised dress sense, is getting far too much air time, but the public is keen to know what's going on. As independent, non-philanthropic organisations, media companies report on things people are interested in.

In the meantime Clarkson can enjoy his aforementioned "nice cold pint and wait for this to blow over".


Irish Independent

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