Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC after allegations that he punched a producer of the petrolheads’ show screened globally with an audience of 6.5 million in the UK.
Programmes scheduled for this Sunday and the week after, and possibly the last in the series the following week, will not be screened, added the corporation, saying that the 54-year-old presenter had been suspended “pending an investigation” into a “fracas”. The dictionary definition of “fracas” is “a noisy, disorderly disturbance or fight”.
The BBC statement said initially: “No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday.”
Since the news broke last night more than 220,000 have signed a petition calling for the entertainer to be reinstated.
BBC News special correspondent Lucy Manning said on an official BBC site that sources had confirmed reports the presenter was suspended for “allegedly hitting a producer”.
“The incident is believed to have happened last week, but was reported to the BBC on Monday and dealt with on Tuesday,” she said.
“The next two episodes of Top Gear will not be broadcast and it’s understood that a third programme, the final of the series, is unlikely to be transmitted.”
Clarkson, pictured centre, has had a colourful career since joining the show in 1988, and fronting it since 2002, partnered by Richard Hammond and James May, pictured left and right, above. Last May Clarkson was given what he called his “final warning” after claims he used a racist word while filming the popular motoring show which is one of the BBC’s biggest earners.
At the time, he said the BBC told him he would be sacked if he made “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time”.
There was more trouble when the trio were filming a Christmas Special in Argentina, when the number plate on Clarkson’s classic Porsche was said to relate to the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina. Their cars came under attack and they had to abandon them and flee.
This weekend’s episode of Top Gear was set to feature Clarkson, Hammond and May at a classic track day. Former footballer and pundit Gary Lineker was also to appear as the “star in a reasonably priced car”.