The BBC television show Top Gear is a record-breaking program. One of the most watched television shows in the world, Top Gear is viewed by an estimated 350 million people in 212 countries. These stats make it less of a surprise that, in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records, Top Gear was announced as the “most widely watched factual TV programme in the world.” Established in 1977 on BBC Midlands, Angela Rippon was the original host. It was a simple show that looked at cars and road safety. Because of its initial success, Top Gear became a national program in 1978. A few other presenters joined the show in the 1980’s; however, the show remained unchanged. In 1988, Jeremy Clarkson, an automotive journalist, joined the show and transformed it, as his outspoken and irreverent style made the show more edgy.
Clarkson can be named for the success of the show because after he joined in 1988, viewing figures propelled from several hundred thousand to well over six million. However, after several years of controversy, Jeremy Clarkson left the show in 1999, causing viewing figures to plummet.
Eventually, in 2001, the rest of the presenters and producers left to create another automotive television show on another channel. Jeremy Clarkson then came back after making a successful pitch to the BBC in 2002. Top Gear was reborn, and this time the show was entirely different than it was in the past. Clarkson was joined by Richard Hammond and James May, and the trio continued to present the show together for a decade and a half. Episodes consisted of the trio being given outlandish automotive challenges by the producers, car reviews and comparisons, celebrity appearances, and many other special events. The show was irreverent and hilarious.
However, in March of 2015, Top Gear was put on hold after Jeremy Clarkson punched one of the producers, Oision Tymon, after a 40-minute rant over not being given a hot dinner after a day of filming. During the altercation, several witnesses say that Clarkson was extremely vulgar and used many expletives against Tymon. It is also reported that Clarkson allegedly called him a “lazy Irish ****.” Clarkson was also said to have been drinking prior to the altercation. The BBC immediately suspended Clarkson while they investigated the situation. Eventually, the BBC fired him.
Soon after Clarkson was fired, Richard Hammond and James May chose to leave the BBC as well.
Hammond says that, “It all became a bit obvious past a certain point, you know, we do what we do and for whatever reason and whether you agree or not there are those that think we do it quite well, so it became obvious and I thought, well if we’re going to carry on doing that, we’ll do it together.” The trio now are in the works of making a new automotive television show together on Amazon Prime. Although the three will continue to be together, the show will be different and will feature a new name which has not yet been released. However, the press does know that Clarkson, Hammond, and May have filmed in Portugal.
Clarkson is still in hot water. Oison Tymon, the producer he had the altercation with, is suing Clarkson for racial discrimination. Tymon is allegedly seeking damages that reach well over one million pounds. Tymon is also suing Clarkson for the injuries sustained in the brawl, as well as the BBC for failing to protect their employee.
The BBC is continuing to run Top Gear, but it will be much different. Chris Evans, a well-known radio DJ, has taken the position as the show’s new host. However, he says that he will not be running the show in a similar fashion as it was in the past. Essentially, the only thing that will be the same is the name, Top Gear.