Suspended ‘Top Gear' host no stranger to controversy

Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-11 14:55:53-04

If all the people that “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson has offended in the past 26 years got together, they could likely fill Rockingham Motor Speedway.

The longtime host of Britain’s hugely popular automotive TV series was suspended this week by the BBC, the network that carries “Top Gear,” after he punched a producer.

“Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation,” a statement from the network indicated on Tuesday. “No one else has been suspended.”



The incident was mostly met with a collective eye roll from fans of the series across the globe — in America, it can be found on Netflix and BBC America — because it’s just the type of antic they’ve come to expect from the 54-year-old TV personality.

It’s wasn’t even the first time Clarkson’s been in the news for decking a British media member. Since 2000, he’s had an ongoing feud with Piers Morgan, which came to a head in March 2004, when Clarkson punched Morgan in the head at the British Press Awards.

Clarkson’s offensive nature

Fans of “Top Gear” have long cited Clarkson’s edgy, sometimes offensive brand of commentary as one of show’s best qualities. However, his off-the-cuff style has resulted in BBC officials and Clarkson himself making numerous apologies in recent years.

In July 2010, British political journalist Alastair Campbell appeared as a guest on “Top Gear” and afterward, wrote in his blog that Clarkson had made a homophobic remark that went over well with the show’s live audience.



“I said at one point that he wasn’t very sound on gay rights,” Cambell wrote. “‘Oh yes I am,’ he said, adding, to more laughter … ‘I demand the right not to be bummed.’” The last remark was a euphemism for gay sex. That exchange was subsequently edited out of the show before it aired on television.

In December 2006, “Top Gear” came under fire after Clarkson made anti-gay remarks when reviewing a car in an episode of the series. According to BBC News, complaints came in from viewers after Clarkson agreed with a studio audience member that the car was “a bit gay” and also described the vehicle as “very ginger beer,” which is rhyming slang for the word “queer.”

In October 2009, Clarkson sounded off on what he perceived as a problem with TV casting. He’s quoted as saying that TV producers were obsessed with casting “black Muslim lesbians” on shows to balance white male cast members. “Chalk and cheese, they reckon, works,” Clarkson said. “But here we have ‘Top Gear’ setting new [ratings] records after six years using cheese and cheese. It confuses them.”

Last year, Clarkson apologized after an outtake clip from a 2012 “Top Gear” episode surfaced, which featured him using the N-word. “Eeny, meeny, miny moe … Catch a n***** by his toe,” Clarkson said in the video, which was published by UK’s Daily Mirror.

Host’s history of controversy

During his time on “Top Gear,” Clarkson and the show have been in trouble numerous times over culturally insensitive remarks made by the host. Perhaps the most egregious example was in March 2014, when the show was being filmed in Thailand.

Clarkson was shown looking at a bridge as an Asian man walked across it, when he said, “That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it.” The term “slope” can be taken as a slur against Asian people. An executive producer of “Top Gear” expressed regret after the show aired.

Throughout the years, “Top Gear” has also offended Germans and Mexicans due to insensitive remarks made in part by Clarkson.



Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.