Belfast Telegraph

Clarkson live tour set to go ahead

Jeremy Clarkson will appear on stage with his former Top Gear colleagues later this year to fulfil a series of gigs planned before the BBC sacked him for an attack on one of the show's producers .

The gigs will be stripped of all BBC branding and content and billed as Clarkson, Hammond and May Live.

That means the shows, which will take in venues as far afield as Australia, Norway, South Africa and the UK, will not be able to use clips from the show or feature The Stig.

A BBC Worldwide spokesman said: " So as not to disappoint the thousands of people around the world who have already purchased tickets, BBC Worldwide has agreed with our joint venture partner Brand Events that the remainder of the tour can continue. These events will not however feature any BBC Top Gear branding or content. We believe this is a sensible approach in the circumstances."

Some of the dates have already had to be rescheduled and tour organisers believe it may not even make a profit by the time those costs have been taken into account.

A spokesman for Brand Events said: "This is a great solution for the fans. We'd like to thank our ticket holders for their continued patience. The fans are the most important people to Jeremy, Richard and James so we're delighted to be able to say 'we're still coming'. We're sure it'll be something you won't want to miss."

The move is likely to spark rumours that the three men intend to team up to continue their careers together after Clarkson's exit from the corporation, but sources close to the tour say it is just a matter of fulfilling commitments to the fans.

Earlier today, Top Gear producer Andy Wilman - regarded as central to the show's success - had to deny reports he has quit the hit show in the wake of Clarkson's sacking.

An email sent to Top Gear staff congratulating them on making "one of the most iconic programmes in TV history" was published yesterday and widely reported as a resignation statement.

In it, he said: "Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show's history, not the whole of it. Those two words are bigger than us."

But today Mr Wilman, whose friendship with Clarkson dates back to their school days, said the email was "not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption".

He said: "It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years, but clearly one of those 113 is a bit of a tit, because they shared it with a website.

"I don't get this modern obsession with sharing, linking, forwarding, retweeting; whatever happened to a private moment?

"And if I were to resign, I wouldn't do it publicly, I'd do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR. I work behind the camera and I wouldn't presume for one moment to think people are interested in what I do. Now, everyone back to work."

A spokeswoman for the show said: "Andy's email was intended as a heartfelt message to people who had worked with him and Jeremy, to recognise the fact that with Jeremy leaving it was the end of an era.

"It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure."

The future of the show's other two presenters - Richard Hammond and James May - is unclear, with both men's contracts running out today.

Contract discussions with the show's stars were put on hold while the BBC suspended Clarkson when it emerged he had been involved in what was initially described as "a fracas" with producer Oisin Tymon and it has been reported that all three men will leave the show.

Police are still investigating threats to kill BBC director-general Tony Hall, reportedly linked to his decision to axe Clarkson.

Scotland Yard confirmed it was looking into allegations made when Mr Hall confirmed he would not be renewing Clarkson's contract because of his unprovoked attack on Mr Tymon at a North Yorkshire hotel.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the director-general and wife Cynthia had been under 24-hour guard since the threat was received.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police in Westminster are investigating an allegation of threats to kill. The allegation was reported to police on Wednesday March 25. Inquiries continue. No arrests have been made."

Mr Hall, former chief executive of the Royal Opera House, took over the £450,000 BBC post in April 2013 to replace George Entwistle, who left the corporation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

Last Wednesday, he announced that Clarkson, a popular but divisive figure during his time at the hugely successful BBC2 motoring show, would not be retained, saying ''a line has been crossed'' and ''there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another''.

Mr Tymon had his lip split by Clarkson in a 30-second assault on March 4 and took himself to hospital with his injuries. He was also shouted at by the former Top Gear presenter in a torrent of verbal abuse.

Clarkson reported the incident to the BBC five days later and was suspended on March 10.

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