No, Top Gear has not been cancelled (Update)
Update: The remaining episodes of this season of Top Gear will eventually air, even if the BBC rules against Clarkson. If that happens, the episodes will be recut to work around the missing host segments that had yet to be filmed. The investigation into Clarkson is ongoing.
Original Story 3/16/15: There are stories going around that the wildly popular BBC TV show Top Gear has been cancelled. They are not true – at least not yet.
Numerous outlets are claiming that host Jeremy Clarkson has officially left the show, and because of that, BBC pulled the plug. There are at least two things incorrect in that statement, which is pretty remarkable for a statement with only two points. I would link a few of the posts specifically running stories under the headline “Top Gear cancelled,” but that would benefit the sites that rushed to post articles that either misunderstood the situation or just made it up for some clicks.
Top Gear may be cancelled, or it may not. No decision has been made yet. So eve if the story ends up being true later, but it would sort of be like me posting a story claiming the Portland Trailblazers won the 2015 NBA championship. That could still happen, but even if it does, it doesn’t excuse me taking the chance on printing a guess.
Taking a less cynical view of things, it may be that the reports were just confused.
The recent issues with the show began when host Jeremy Clarkson got into an altercation with a producer. The details haven’t been officially revealed, but it wasn’t long before the story reached the tabloids.
The story goes that following a lengthy segment, Clarkson accosted a producer over a lack of food waiting for the star. This led to Clarkson hitting the producer and splitting his lip, with several witnesses watching. He may have also called him an “Irish cunt,” but that hasn’t been confirmed. According to the BBC, Clarkson then reported the fight himself.
In a vacuum, this may have led to a minor slap on the wrist for Clarkson, but the host has been at the center of several controversies before. He was supposedly given a “final warning” last year, after he cited an old rhyme that included a racist word. He has also insulted Asians, Mexicans, Argentineans, and many, many others over the years.
Following the recent incident, the BBC suspended Clarkson. The show is currently airing its 22nd season in the UK, and the final two episodes, scheduled to air on March 15 and 22 have both been pulled from the schedule and filming has been halted.
It is probably from this that the stories of the show’s cancellation sprung. The season may have been cancelled, but event hat is unconfirmed.
For now, no official decision has been made. Clarkson is expected to tell his side of the story to the head of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, who is leading the investigation. Clarkson recently hinted in a column he wrote for The Sun that he may quit before he is pushed out, stating that there comes a day when “you wave goodbye to the big monsters.”
The column may have been little more than Clarkson’s frustration coming out though. He went on the say “I can assure you that things are bad. But they are not that bloody bad.”
Clarkson’s comments could also be something of a threat.
Top Gear isn’t just a popular show, it is one of the most popular shows in the world, and a massive moneymaker for the BBC worldwide. The current estimates put the show’s viewership at around 350 million, and despite his controversies, Clarkson is a big part of that.
Following his suspension, a petition to reinstate the host quickly gained 800,000 signatures, and Clarkson is said to have friends in high places fighting for him, from the director general of the BBC, to the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who is said to be a big fan of the host.
If the BBC does rule against Clarkson, it will certainly mean big changes for the show, but that doesn’t mean Top Gear would be cancelled. Even if co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May go with Clarkson – and all three are due to renegotiate their contracts soon – the BBC would likely at least try to retool the show with a new cast after a hiatus.
And as for Clarkson, the BBC isn’t the only network in the world. There would certainly be others lining up to offer him a job.