Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Clarkson looks back on 'tremendous' BBC years as he launches rival show

Jeremy Clarkson has praised the BBC, saying that working for the corporation was "tremendous", over a year after he was let go.

But the TV presenter, who is to front a rival show to his old programme Top Gear, admits he draws a line at the "disgusting" new royal charter that demands all BBC employees who earn more than £150,000 must reveal their salaries.

He said: "Nobody talks about their earnings. You just don't do it.

"I don't know why it's interesting what somebody earns.

"I think if you're going to put somebody in a management position running the BBC for example, Tony Hall, you would assume and hope he is capable of deciding who gets paid what, and he doesn't have to explain it to every single Tom, Dick and Harry in the country."

Clarkson, 56, said: "It's his job to say you get paid that, you get paid that. Why do we need to know?

"It's like saying Kate Moss is really attractive so everyone should be that attractive. Well, they can't be. Some people are rich, some people are poor, some people are beautiful, some people are intelligent. These are things that make the world go round."

Clarkson, who fronted Top Gear for over a decade with Richard Hammond and James May, is now launching new rival motoring series The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video.

This follows his being dropped from the BBC following a ''fracas'' with a producer over hot food in 2015, with Hammond and May joining him soon afterwards for their alternative programme in one of the biggest TV clinches in history.

Working in this non-linear broadcasting format after being at the BBC has opened up new doors for the former Top Gear team, completed by their long-running producer Andy Wilman.

But, Clarkson said, there are fewer differences between the BBC and Amazon than many would assume.

Praising his time at the BBC, he said it is a "brilliant organisation for letting you grow".

He said: "Everything I know about making television I learnt from the BBC.

"How long were we bumbling around on BBC Two? Three or four years I suppose? Awful. (We made) terrible mistakes and nobody was really watching and then after Richard Hammond went upside down everybody started to watch.

"By then the show had got quite good. So (the BBC) is very good at letting a show develop and grow, until it becomes the masterpiece that is Autumnwatch now."

Clarkson stressed that, contrary to popular belief, the BBC did not impose such harsh restrictions on their TV endeavours, and neither has Amazon with The Grand Tour.

"Let's be clear," he said. "Everybody assumes that we've burst out into this brave new world. The Beeb was tremendous. They were bloody good people."

He went on to mention his old sparring partner, former BBC director of television Danny Cohen, adding that he was "the only real sticky point" with working on Top Gear towards the end.

Clarkson said: "If you don't have to work with Danny Cohen looking over your shoulder all the time, it's amazing how relaxed you become."

The motoring enthusiast, who was embroiled in several controversies during his time as the host of Top Gear, said that he has not had all of his ties cut with the BBC but that they need to work on other areas, such as talent management and giving positive feedback.

He said: "I can go back to do Have I Got News For You? and QI and I do... There are a lot of very, very hard-working, talented, clever dedicated people in that organisation. I got on very well for a very long time.

"That being said, they're absolutely rubbish at talent management. It's just an idea where they've got to buck their ideas up, they really do, that's why they keep losing shows."

Clarkson said himself, Hammond and May frequently receive praise from their bosses at Amazon, something he said rarely happened with Top Gear.

He said: "Amazon watch and go, 'Wow! Brilliant!'. It's so nice... and we never, ever got that from the BBC, ever.

"Not in 27 years, no one in management ever said 'that was good', in case it turned out to have a problem in it and then if they're on emails saying, 'you supported it'... so no one says anything."

:: The Grand Tour arrives on Amazon Prime Video on Friday November 18, with a new episode released every Friday.


From Belfast Telegraph