Jeremy Clarkson’s (middle) “fracas” with a Top Gear producer is far from the first time the show has been hit by controversy – we take a look at its timeline of trouble.
The Top Gear presenter has been left in limbo for two weeks since the corporation announced his suspension following what it described as “a fracas” with producer Oisin Tymon.
2003: Clarkson drives a pick-up into a horse chestnut tree in a car park in Somerset, to test the strength of a Toyota. The BBC apologises to the parish council.
November 2008: Clarkson makes a joke during an episode about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, which attracts more than 1,000 complaints to the BBC.
January 2011: Jokes made during the show about Mexicans, which include them being branded “lazy”, “feckless” and “flatulent”, spark controversy and prompt an apology from the BBC to the Mexican ambassador.
December 2011: During a 90-minute India special a car fitted with a toilet in the boot is described by Clarkson as “perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots”.
February 2012: Clarkson compares a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces. He is later found to have breached BBC guidelines.
May 2014: Clarkson is embroiled in controversy when it is claimed he used the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during filming.
July 2014: Top Gear is ruled to have breached broadcasting rules after Clarkson used the word “slope” to describe an Asian man.
October 2014: The Top Gear crew is forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupts when it emerges they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some suggest could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.
March 10, 2015: The BBC suspends Clarkson “following a fracas” with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon at the Simonstone Hall Hotel near Hawes, North Yorkshire after a day filming. An investigation is launched and all three remaining episodes of the series are postponed.
March 11, 2015: Prime Minister David Cameron weighs into the row, calling Clarkson a “huge talent” and saying he hopes the situation can be resolved so his children will not be left “heartbroken”.
March 15, 2015: The BBC’s decision to postpone the remaining episodes of Top Gear sees it lose millions of viewers. A Red Arrows documentary which is shown in place of the planned episode pulls in just one million viewers – compared to the five million who regularly tune in for the popular motoring show.
March 19, 2015: Clarkson launches an expletive laden broadside against BBC executives who he claim are about to sack him. He reveals he wants to do “one last ever lap” of the Top Gear test track. In video footage obtained by the Daily Mirror, Clarkson says: “I’ll go down to Surrey and I’ll do one last lap of that track before the f***ing b******s sack me.”
March 20, 2015: A million-strong petition calling for Clarkson’s reinstatement is delivered by tank to the BBC’s headquarters. Someone dressed as the motoring show’s enigmatic professional driver The Stig is onboard as the military vehicle arrives outside New Broadcasting House, central London.
March 22, 2015: Four Top Gear live shows that were scheduled to take place in Norway are postponed.
March 24, 2015: The BBC denied it had made a decision following its internal investigation into what happened during the “fracas” with Mr Tymon – and Clarkson’s future – as reports suggested he would be sacked by the corporation.
March 25, 2015: BBC director-general Tony Hall says Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed, adding the the decision had been taken with “great regret”. “It is not a decision I have taken lightly,” he added. BN