End of an era

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Photo: Maia Weinstock/Flickr

Jeremy Clarkson is gone. Now it looks likely that Hammond and May have joined him. Top Gear as we knew it is no more. Time has, essentially, been called on one of the best and most-watched entertainment shows on the planet.

Countless people have voiced their opinions on the Clarkson saga. In a move worthy of the man himself, a petition signed by over a million people was delivered to BBC HQ by a man dressed as the Stig on a tank. Concerned citizens of the world unleashed their fury on the BBC, a bleeding heart liberal organisation too concerned with looking after the feelings of people easily offended than their biggest and beloved star, as they saw it.

Others still have vented their feelings towards producer Oisin Tymon, the man on the end of Clarkson’s fury several weeks ago, which even Clarkson himself has railed against. They shouldn’t waste their energy. If this was the case of another iffy Clarkson joke, if his often misunderstood humour was the cause of what might as well be called a ‘sacking’, then they might have a point.

But, unfortunately, they don’t. This was the simple case of a boss berating and then striking his employee. Some will argue, of course, that the circumstances are quite different. Clarkson is a national treasure and a cash cow for the BBC. Allowances should be made for a larger ego. But remove the names and you’ve got a clear cut case for dismissal. Think about it, think about your workplace and your boss. Would you endure a 30 minute tirade followed by an assault? Or would you have recognised that enough is enough?

Perhaps, as some have suggested, it could have all been resolved in-house. Clarkson and Tymon could have made their peace and the world could enjoy another few episodes of some great TV. But it wasn’t to be. Clarkson said the words and threw the punch, Oisin Tymon had to drive himself to the ER and Top Gear as we know it is dead. And all because of a lack of steak and chips. I count myself among Clarkson’s biggest fans. In fact, he and Top Gear could be said to be one of the reasons I got into motoring journalism in the first place. But, as painful as it might be to admit it, he does deserve to go.

As to the future of Top Gear itself, uncertainty is the least of its worries. With Clarkson gone, May and Hammond will likely announce they will follow suit, having indicated as much over the course of the drawn out affair. The BBC has said the show will go on, but can it? In football, pundits love to pronounce that no player is bigger than the club, whether that’s Carlos Tevez, Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez. But Top Gear is a different kettle of fish. For many people they tune in not simply to look at hypercars powersliding around a track, but to see the interaction between the three hosts – it was as much about what Clarkson, Hammond and May got up to as it was about the cars. Will it go on? Possibly. Will it succeed? Unlikely. No matter who they sign up it won’t be the same, and we’ll have two Fifth Gears instead of one.

And on that bombshell, it’s time to end.

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