Belfast Telegraph

Top Gear in crisis after Jeremy Clarkson is suspended

By Adam Sherwin

Jeremy Clarkson may have presented his final edition of Top Gear after the BBC dramatically suspended the controversial presenter following an altercation with a producer.

The BBC announced the hit show will not be broadcast this Sunday after the corporation was forced to pull Clarkson from screens.

The Radio Times reported last night that the presenter allegedly aimed a punch at a male producer earlier in the week, but that it was only reported to the BBC on Monday. Executives took the decision to suspend him yesterday.

The magazine said two further remaining episodes have also been "postponed" pending further investigations.

It is the latest in a string of incidents surrounding the outspoken presenter. Clarkson was already on a final warning from the BBC following accusations of racism. Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, who had previously warned Clarkson that "no one person is bigger than the BBC", is believed to have ordered the suspension, after receiving reports of the incident. The BBC said: "Following a fracas with a BBC producer Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time."

The cancelled episode features Clarkson (54) driving a Fiat 124 Spider and a guest appearance from Gary Lineker as the "star in a reasonably priced car".

With just two further episodes in the series due to be screened, Top Gear may not reappear with its current line-up of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May unless the presenter is cleared. Clarkson was placed on his "final warning" last year following a racism row after claims that he mumbled a racial slur while reciting a nursery rhyme during the show's filming.

Ofcom rapped Clarkson when he appeared to mock Thai people during a Top Gear show last year by making a joke using the racist term "slope". Clarkson, who has fronted the show since 2002, was saved from earlier disciplinary action over his use of the n-word by the intervention of Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General.

Clarkson and his presenting team were then forced to flee Argentina amid threats from locals who believed a number plate they used when filming last year's Christmas special was an offensive reference to the country's defeat in the 1982 Falklands War.

He shared in Top Gear's riches, making more than £14m in 2012 after BBC Worldwide bought a controlling stake in Bedder 6, a firm formed in partnership with Clarkson to exploit the show globally.

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