DEVELOPING… Refresh for latest: The BBC’s Director General Tony Hall has confirmed Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed after a physical altercation with a producer. The controversial presenter was suspended on March 10, following a “fracas” with Oisin Tymon — believed to be over catering — in a Yorkshire hotel.
“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon,” said Hall in a statement.
“The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked (BBC Two Controller) Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”
The news was widely expected after a raft of reports began circulating in recent hours that Clarkson’s contract, which was up at the end of March, would not be renewed. Findings of an inquiry into the incident in Yorkshire, only the latest in a series of controversies that had surrounded Clarkson and the hugely popular show, are detailed here.
Hall’s statement made specific mention of the severity of the incident and went out of its way to defend Tymon. “A member of staff — who is a completely innocent party — took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations,” said Hall. “I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.”
Tymon’s attorney released a statement from the producer shortly after Hall’s announcement. “I’ve worked on Top Gear for almost a decade, a program I love. Over that time Jeremy and I had a positive and successful working relationship, making some landmark projects together. He is a unique talent and I am well aware that many will be sorry his involvement in the show should end in this way.”
Hall also had kind words for Clarkson. “This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.”
Just following the announcement, Top Gear co-host James May, whose contract is also up at the end of the month, told reporters outside his home, “It’s a tragedy. I’m sorry that what ought to have been a small incident, sorted out easily, turned into something big… I have only known for the past few minutes and if you’ll excuse me, I very desperately have to write the eBay listing for my Ferrari.”
Clarkson has yet to respond, but has updated his Twitter profile to read, “I used to be a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show,Top Gear.”