He sure knows how to “put [his] foot in it”. British television personality Jeremy Clarkson’s 35-year history of broadcast controversies is almost as long as his filmography credits.
The 62-year-old now looks likely to lose his two Prime Video-produced shows The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm, as well as his ITV Who Wants to be a Millionaire? hosting gig, following his “misogynistic” Meghan Markle column.
The Daily Mail has quoted ITV bosses as saying they have no “commitments” to further episodes of Millionaire, which Clarkson has hosted since 2018, beyond the forthcoming series that is already commissioned.
The quiz show currently airs in New Zealand on Discovery-owned Eden, having first aired on TVNZ in January 2019.
With the controversial broadcaster’s TV career seemingly at an end, we take a look back at some of Clarkson’s most infamous television scandals, from assault on the set of Top Gear to calls for execution on prime-time television.
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BBC’s The One Show: Violent comments on strikers
During a November 2011 appearance on BBC’s The One Show, Clarkson landed himself in hot water after making violent comments on a UK public sector strike happening the same day.
“Frankly, I’d have them all shot,” Clarkson said.
“I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?”
21,335 complaints were also made to the BBC in the 36 hours following Clarkson’s appearance, which had caused so much backlash that then-Prime Minister David Cameron was asked his thoughts on the controversy, to which he said Clarkson’s comments were “a silly thing to say” and that he was “sure he didn’t mean it”.
“I didn’t for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously – as I believe is clear, if they’re seen in context,” Clarkson later remarked, while apologising.
“If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I’m quite happy to apologise for it alongside them.”
Top Gear: Use of an ethnic slur
In unreleased footage from a 2012 episode of Top Gear, Clarkson could be heard using a highly-offensive ethnic slur while singing the nursery rhyme eeny, meeny, miny, mo.
In the recording, published by the Daily Mirror in 2014, Clarkson could be heard mumbling the n-word while singing the rhyme.
He first denied allegations he said the word, before admitting he could hear himself using the slur in the recording, and later released a full apology statement, in which he said his efforts to hide the recording from the public “weren’t quite good enough”.
The incident drew major public backlash, with members of the public and many notable figures, including controversial television presenter and long-time rival of Clarkson, Piers Morgan, calling for his sacking.
Top Gear: Another ethnic slur
In the latter half of the two-part series Top Gear: Burma Special, which aired in March 2014, Clarkson used another offensive ethnic slur.
While filming in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Clarkson had used a slur which referred to Asian people while admiring a bridge built by the Top Gear team during filming that had a Myanmar local walking across it.
“That is a proud moment, but there’s a s…. on it,” Clarkson said.
Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman later apologised for the use of the slur.
“When we used the word s…. in the recent Top Gear Burma Special it was a light-hearted word play joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it.
“We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word s…. is considered by some to be offensive.”
British broadcasting regulator Ofcom later ruled that Top Gear and the BBC had breached broadcasting standards by airing the episode.
Following this incident as well as his previous use of the n-word, Clarkson was given a final warning by the BBC that would see him sacked if another offensive comment was made.
Top Gear: Assault scandal
Clarkson was finally sacked from Top Gear in 2015 following a physical attack with one of the show’s producers in what the BBC referred to as a “fracas”.
The then-54-year-old had punched Oisin Tymon, leaving the producer swelling and bleeding in his lip, and also subjecting him to “prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature”.
Tymon, who was 36 at the time, alleged Clarkson called him a “lazy Irish c…” prior to the attack.
“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract,” Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, said in a statement.
“For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated either by rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.”
Clarkson, alongside Top Gear hosts Richard Hammond and James May and executive producer Wilman, created the series The Grand Tour which was picked up by Prime Video the following year.
The Grand Tour: Homophobia
Clarkson was accused of homophobia following an episode of The Grand Tour in 2019.
The co-host was given a Jeep Wrangler to drive during a trip to Colombia, with co-host James May joking the car was “popular with the gay community”.
“What is it, lesbian, bacon, transgender?,” Clarkson responded, before later describing the vehicle as “bought by people who like cruising the streets of San Francisco and Key West and Brighton and Sydney”.
The moment caught the attention of singer Will Young, who slammed Clarkson’s comments as “f…ing pathetic and actually homophobic” on social media.
Clarkson responded to Young’s outrage by claiming that “many gay people who’d seen the show said they couldn’t see a problem” and “none of [his] leftie friends could either.”
“One even said I should tell him to stop being so gay … I wouldn’t do that though.
“I will apologise to Will for causing him some upset and reassure him that I know I’m not homophobic as I very much enjoy watching lesbians on the internet.”