ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Ex-BBC chief admits they should have tried to keep Clarkson on Top Gear

He “spoke to people who didn’t find much else at the BBC”

Ex-BBC chief admits they should have tried to keep Clarkson on Top Gear
22 August 2016

You have to feel a little for the BBC. Jeremy Clarkson's behaviour over the years was hugely difficult for a public broadcaster to justify and, when he punched the unfortunate Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon following an infamous row over a steak, they were left with little option but to let him go.

However, a former director-general of the BBC now said that the corporation should have fought harder to keep him.

Mark Thompson, who was head of the BBC between 2004 and 2012, revealed his thoughts in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, saying “Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend. I don’t think people should punch their colleagues. It’s hard to keep them if they do.” 

However, he added: “But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose. He spoke to people who didn’t find much else in the BBC.”

Mark Thompson, pictured in 2013

Of course, following Clarkson's sacking, which occurred under the watch of the current director-general Tony Hall, his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May also left in solidarity - we don't know if they were offered new contracts or not, but didn't sign them, even if they were - and the trio have relocated for a new show, The Grand Tour, which will show on Amazon Prime this autumn.

Meanwhile, the rebooted Top Gear aired earlier this year and suffered from a critical mauling and low ratings, leading to the swift departure of Chris Evans immediately after the broadcast of the last episode of the series. Former Friends star Matt LeBlanc is widely tipped to be taking over as the lead presenter, with Thompson describing his performance as "promising". He also said that Evans was a "great broadcaster" but added, “I couldn’t work out why he didn’t impersonate Chris Evans, rather than Jeremy Clarkson.”

[via Guardian]

(Images: Rex/AllStar)