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11 reasons why Jeremy Clarkson is such a brilliant car reviewer - even if he is a total motormouth

By Paul Connolly

Love him or hate him, there's a lot to be said about Jeremy Clarkson.

1. He’s a demented genius

If you’re old enough to remember MasterChef from the 1980s, or seen some of the clips on YouTube, you’ll remember what it was like: dull - as languid and sorry as a civil servant working a sunny bank holiday.

That was what the old Top Gear was like, too. It made cars, even fast cars, boring.

After its relaunch, Clarkson transformed Top Gear into what it is today (or rather, was) – a gigantic success sold to and copied the world over. There were other presenters, but the show was his.

How does he even think up some of the madcap ideas for Top Gear and The Grand Tour? What part of the brain do they emerge from?

2. Man, can he write

His reviews typically meander beautifully from wry observations about life, through sometimes near-inexplicable rants, and then veer into very trenchant writing about the vehicle in question.

He deploys hyperbole to, er, universe-warping effect, but somehow it works.

The trick seems to be that he makes his point with outrageous metaphors before then proving it with razor-sharp observation.

3. Man, can he drive

Yes, that really is him (and the other two) throwing those cars around those circuits and vertigo-inducing mountain passes. Ask Hammond, it’s almost cost him his life. Twice.

He might make it look easy, but cornering at 160mph, looking at the camera and cracking witty and/or insightful comments is a hard thing to do.

Me? I can’t even rub my tummy and raise my hand up and down above my head at the same time.

4. He’s good on TV

That funny face, those shapeless jeans and the punchlines you can often see coming ... well, they just all somehow work. His booming voice even seems authoritative.  Usually.

5. He’s not afraid of contradicting himself in his own columns

In fact, he even admits it - something most journos would never, ever admit to.

6. He knows his motors

He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the things. And then some.

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7. He’s been about

Before hitting the big time, Clarkson had, um, stellar writing careers with the Rotherham Advertiser, Rochdale Observer, Wolverhampton Express & Star and Amstrad Computer User. Yes, you read that last one right, as the man himself might say. 

Luckily for us, he went on to have careers at The Sun, Sunday Times, BBC and the grand-daddy of them all (so far), Amazon.

8. He isn’t afraid of having an opinion – or the implications of expressing it

In fact, he’s a stout defender of freedom of speech. Well, apart from that time he temporarily took out a privacy injunction against his first wife to stop her writing about his private life. That doesn’t count, obviously.

9. He is genuinely funny

Well, ok, mostly to petrol-heads and people with a passing interest in cars and death-defying stunts.

Obviously not to Mexicans, North Americans, the Dutch, South Americans, anyone living in a former Communist country, the inhabitants of most of Asia, and Africa. Or any person, town or region he’s ever derided. Which is, oh, maybe 90% of the globe.

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10. But he also comes across as a total reactionary

Racial slurs, offensive caricatures, gross over-simplifications, the load – all have crossed his lips.

Interestingly, he is also vociferously against Brexit; a committed Remainer, in fact.

That’s our Jeremy; a tangle of contradictions.

11. Most importantly of all – he doesn’t care about any of the above

I’d imagine he was gutted at only coming 66th in the Channel 4 viewer poll, The 100 Worst Britons We Love to Hate.

All Jeremy Clarkson wants to do is to make bloody great TV, write bloody great articles and drive bloody great cars. And the world is a better place for it.

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