The BBC said today it has suspended Jeremy Clarkson, host of the BBC 2 car series Top Gear since 2002, after “a fracas” with a show producer. “No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday,” the UK pubcaster said today in a statement. Nobody’s taking, but Clarkson and the popular show have found themselves in the hot (driver’s) seat for most of the past year, after the BBC said it would fire the popular host if he made “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time.”
That edict came after several dust-ups involving Clarkson and the popular show; just last month joked on Twitter that the show should find another host:
Top Gear, co-hosted by Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, airs in about 200 countries and is on BBC America in the U.S.
The most recent controversy came in October, when the stars and crew of the show were forced to leave Argentina amid angry protests over a license plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War. The incident caused the Argentine ambassador to the UK to ask the BBC for a public apology despite Top Gear producer Andy Wilman saying the license plate was not deliberately chosen and was “most definitely” not a stunt.
Last May, Clarkson got in hot water in the UK for the alleged use of a racial slur after an unaired clip from a 2012 episode surfaced suggesting he used an offensive term while reciting the children’s counting rhyme “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.” Clarkson denied the allegations, but later issued a video statement saying he had further scrutinized the footage and that in one of three takes in which he mumbled, it did appear “that I actually used the word I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe, and I did everything in my power to make sure that version did not appear in the program that was transmitted,” he said.
The BBC then released a statement: “Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode. We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off. We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this.”
That shot across Clarkson’s bow came a month after the BBC apologized for comments he made in a Top Gear special filmed in Burma. And in 2011, the show was criticized over comments about Mexicans that were perceived as racist.