As he prepares to unleash The Grand Tour and delight angry uncles the world over, Jeremy Clarkson has been offering his thoughts on what went wrong with the last series of Top Gear, which of course saw Chris Evans step down as presenter after its six episode run.
Speaking to the BBC’s Will Gompertz, Clarkson – a former journalist – suggested that the problem was in the writing of the show itself.
"You look at the TV show, you read all the credits, you'll see the cameraman, the sound recordist, you'll see their names...” he said. “You find me one where it says 'written by'. They just cobble it together," he added, cuttingly. "Writing is everything."
It is indeed, and as a former script editor has written, Clarkson was almost obsessively detail-oriented in his scripts, working into the night and “happy to spend 40 minutes arguing whether ‘raspberries’ was a funnier word than ‘hat.’”
In contrast, the writing on the Evans-fronted incarnation was so iffy that Danny Baker tried to deny he had done it – despite being named in the credits.
As if that wasn’t enough, there were reports that he and Matt LeBlanc were feuding behind the scenes, with the American apparently threatening to walk if Evans didn’t.
Presumably not that fussed about any non-disparagement clauses in his contract with his former employers, Clarkson also put the boot into the working culture of the BBC.
“When you send Amazon a film, their television people in Los Angeles ring up and squeak with joy. What you never get at the BBC is that - ever," he said, presumably mindful of his American bosses.
"Because if somebody was to say, 'That was a great thing that you've just done,' particularly if they wrote it in an email, if it turned out to be controversial and the Daily Mail went berserk, they'd be on record as having liked it, and then what would happen?" he went on. "It's a terrible culture, and all of Britain suffers from it."
Asked about what lead to to the notorious “fracas" where Clarkson, irritated by catering issues, called producer Oisin Tymon a “lazy Irish c*nt” and punched him so hard he had to be taken to hospital, the notoriously bullish Clarkson appealed for sympathy.
"I was having a tricky year, and I was quite stressy," he said. "It was really hard. It was getting harder and harder to do that show, because it was getting bigger and bigger all the time. The problems were getting bigger and bigger, the lack of support was appalling, home life was difficult, they were very stressy times."
Should you want to hear more from Clarkson on Top Gear, controversy and more, we had the man himself talked us through some of the more colourful quotes of his career. And something tells us there’s plenty more to come.
The Grand Tour is available on Amazon Prime from 18 November