Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson (born 11 April 1960) is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for co-presenting the motoring programmes Top Gear, from 2002 until 2015, and The Grand Tour alongside Richard Hammond and James May. He also currently writes weekly columns for The Sunday Times and The Sun
From a career as a local journalist in Northern England, Clarkson rose to public prominence as a presenter of the original format of Top Gear in 1988. Since the mid-1990s, he has become a recognised public personality, regularly appearing on British television presenting his own shows for BBC and appearing as a guest on other shows. As well as motoring, Clarkson has produced programmes and books on subjects such as history and engineering. In 1998, he hosted the first series of Robot Wars, and from 1998 to 2000 he also hosted his own talk show, Clarkson
In 2015, the BBC decided not to renew Clarkson's contract with the company after a dispute with a Top Gear producer while filming on location. That year, Clarkson and his Top Gear co-presenters and producer Andy Wilman formed the production company W. Chump & Sons to produce The Grand Tour for Prime Video. Since 2018, Clarkson has hosted the revived ITV gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, replacing former host Chris Tarrant.
His opinionated but humorous tongue-in-cheek writing and presenting style has often provoked a public reaction. His actions, both privately and as a Top Gear presenter have also sometimes resulted in criticism from the media, politicians, pressure groups and the public. He also has a significant public following, being credited as a major factor in the resurgence of Top Gear as one of the most popular shows on the BBC.
Clarkson was born in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, the son of Shirley Gabrielle Clarkson (1934–2014), a teacher, and Edward Grenville Clarkson (1932–1994), a travelling salesman. His parents, who ran a business selling tea cosies, put their son's name down in advance for private schools, with no idea how they were going to pay the fees. However, shortly before his admission, when he was 13, his parents made two Paddington Bear stuffed toys for each of their children. These proved so popular that they started selling them through the business. Because they were manufacturing and selling the bears without regard to intellectual property rights, upon his becoming aware of the bears Michael Bond took action through his solicitors. Edward Clarkson duly traveled down to London to meet Bond's lawyer. By coincidence, he met Bond in the lift, and the two struck up an immediate rapport. Consequently, Bond awarded the Clarksons the licensing of the bear rights throughout the world, with the family eventually selling to Britain's then leading toystore, Hamleys. The income from this success enabled the Clarksons to be able to pay the fees for Jeremy to attend Hill House School, Doncaster, and later Repton School.
Clarkson has stated he was deeply unhappy at Repton School, saying that he had been a "suicidal wreck" there, having experienced extreme bullying, which he alleged included: being thrown into a cold plunge pool, night time beatings, being forced to lick the lavatories clean, routine damage to his property, defecation in his tuck box, and the cutting up of his clothing.
According to his own account, he was expelled from Repton School for "drinking, smoking and generally making a nuisance of himself." Clarkson attended Repton alongside Formula One engineer Adrian Newey and former Top Gear Executive Producer Andy Wilman.
Clarkson's first job was as a travelling salesman for his parents' business, selling Paddington Bear toys. He later trained as a journalist with the Rotherham Advertiser, before also writing for the Rochdale Observer, Wolverhampton Express and Star, Lincolnshire Life, Shropshire Star
When writing in 2015 in his final column for Top Gear magazine, he credited the Shropshire Star as his first outlet as a motoring columnist: "I started small, on the Shropshire Star with little Peugeots and Fiats and worked my way up to Ford Granadas and Rovers until, after about seven years, I was allowed to drive an Aston Martin Lagonda... It was 10 years before I drove my first Lamborghini."
In 1984, Clarkson formed the Motoring Press Agency (MPA), in which, with fellow motoring journalist Jonathan Gill, he conducted road tests for local newspapers and automotive magazines.
Clarkson writes regular columns in the tabloid newspaper The Sun, and for the broadsheet newspaper The Sunday Times. His columns in the Times are republished in The Weekend Australian newspaper. He also writes for the "Wheels" section of the Toronto Star
Clarkson has written humorous books about cars and several other subjects.
Clarkson's first major television role came as one of the presenters on the British motoring programme Top Gear, from 27 October 1988 to 3 February 2000, in the programme's earlier format. Jon Bentley, a researcher at Top Gear, helped launch his television career. Bentley shortly afterwards became the show's producer, and said about hiring Clarkson:
Clarkson then also presented the show's new format from 20 October 2002 to 8 March 2015. Along with co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond, he is credited with turning Top Gear into the most-watched TV show on BBC Two, rebroadcast to over 100 countries around the world. Clarkson's company Bedder 6, which handled merchandise and international distribution for Top Gear, earned over £149m in revenue in 2012, prior to a restructuring that gave BBC Worldwide full control of the Top Gear rights.
Clarkson presented the first series UK version of Robot Wars. His talk show, Clarkson, comprised 27 half-hour episodes aired in the United Kingdom between November 1998 and December 2000, and featured guest interviews with musicians, politicians and television personalities. Clarkson went on to present documentaries focused on non-motoring themes such as history and engineering, although the motoring shows and videos continued. Alongside his stand-alone shows, many mirror the format of his newspaper columns and books, combining his love of driving and motoring journalism, with the examination and expression of his other views on the world, such as in Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld, Jeremy Clarkson's Car Years and Jeremy Clarkson Meets the Neighbours.
After Trinny and Susannah labelled Clarkson's dress sense as that of a market trader, he was persuaded to appear on their fashion makeover show What Not to Wear to avoid being considered for their all-time worst dressed winner award. Their attempts at restyling Clarkson were rebuffed, and Clarkson stated he would rather eat his own hair than appear on the show again.
For an episode of the first series of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? broadcast in November 2004, Clarkson was invited to investigate his family history. It included the story of his great-great-great grandfather, John Kilner (1792–1857), who invented the Kilner jar, a container for preserved fruit.
Clarkson's views are often showcased on television shows.
In 2007, Clarkson won the National Television Awards Special Recognition Award. Also in 2007, it was reported that Clarkson earned £1 million a year for his role as a Top Gear presenter, and a further £1.7 million from books, DVDs and newspaper columns.
In 2008, Clarkson sustained minor injuries to his legs, back and hand in an intentional collision with a brick wall while making the 12th series of Top Gear.
On 30 July 2015, it was announced that Clarkson, along with former Top Gear hosts Richard Hammond and James May would present a new show on Amazon Video. The first season was made available worldwide in 2016. On 11 May 2016, Clarkson confirmed on his Twitter feed that the series would be titled The Grand Tour, and air from a different location each week.
Opinions and influence
Clarkson is in favour of personal freedom and against government regulation, stating that government should "build park benches and that is it. They should leave us alone." He has a particular contempt for the Health and Safety Executive. He often criticised the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, especially what he calls the 'ban' culture, frequently fixating on the bans on smoking and 2004 ban on fox hunting. In April 2013, Clarkson was among 2,000 invited guests to the funeral of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Clarkson does not support Brexit, stating that while the European Union has its problems, Britain would not have any influence over the EU, should it leave the Union. He envisions the European Union being turned into a US-like "United States of Europe", with one army, one currency, and one unifying set of values.
Clarkson's comments have both a large number of supporters and opponents.
As a motoring journalist, he is frequently critical of government initiatives such as the London congestion charge or proposals on road charging. He is also frequently scornful of caravanners and cyclists. He has often singled out John Prescott the former Transport Minister, and Stephen Joseph the head of the public transport pressure group Transport 2000 for ridicule.
In September 2013, a tweet proposing that he might stand for election as an independent candidate in Doncaster North, the constituency of the then Labour leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, was retweeted over 1,000 times – including by John Prescott.
Clarkson is unsympathetic to the green movement and has little respect for groups such as Greenpeace—he believes that the "eco-mentalists" are a by-product of the "old trade unionists and CND lesbians" who had found a more relevant cause—but "loves the destination" of environmentalism and believes that people should quietly strive to be more eco-friendly. Regarding windfarms, he says that in the future, they will be described as "a reminder of the time when mankind temporarily took leave of its senses and decided wind, waves and lashings of tofu could somehow generate enough electricity for the whole planet".
Clarkson has voiced some views regarding global warming: he believes that higher temperatures are not necessarily negative and that anthropogenic carbon dioxide production has a negligible effect on the global climate, but is aware of the negative potential consequences of global warming, saying "let's just stop and think for a moment what the consequences might be. Switzerland loses its skiing resorts? The beach in Miami is washed away? North Carolina gets knocked over by a hurricane? Anything bothering you yet?"
In an attempt to prove that the public furore over the 2007 UK child benefit data scandal was a fuss about nothing, he published his own bank account number and sort code, together with instructions on how to find out his address, in The Sun newspaper, expecting nobody to be able to remove money from his account. He later discovered that someone had set up a monthly direct debit for £500 to Diabetes UK.
Clarkson has been critical of the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. He referred to the US as the United States of Total Paranoia, commenting that one needs a permit to do everything except for purchasing weapons.
Whilst Clarkson states such views in his columns and in public appearances, his public persona does not necessarily represent his personal views, as he acknowledged whilst interviewing Alastair Campbell saying "I don't believe what I write, any more than you [Campbell] believe what you say".
Clarkson has been described as a "skilful propagandist for the motoring lobby" by The Economist. With a forthright and sometimes deadpan delivery, Clarkson is said to thrive on the notoriety his public comments bring, and has risen to the level of the bête noire of the various groups who disagree with his views. On the Channel 4 organised viewer poll, for the 100 Worst Britons We Love to Hate programme, Clarkson polled in 66th place. By 2005, Clarkson was perceived by the press to have upset so many people and groups, The Independent put him on trial for various 'crimes', declaring him guilty on most counts.
Responses to Clarkson's comments are often directed personally, with derogatory comments about residents of Norfolk leading to some residents organising a "We hate Jeremy Clarkson" club. In The Guardian's 2007 'Media 100' list, which lists the top 100 most "powerful people in the [media] industry", based on cultural, economic and political influence in the UK, Clarkson was listed as a new entrant at 74th. Some critics even attribute Clarkson's actions and views as being influential enough to be responsible for the closure of Rover and the Luton manufacturing plant of Vauxhall. Clarkson's comments about Rover prompted workers to hang an "Anti-Clarkson Campaign" banner outside the defunct Longbridge plant in its last days.
The BBC often played down his comments as ultimately not having the weight they were ascribed.
On his chat show, Clarkson, he caused upset to the Welsh by placing a 3D plastic map of Wales into a microwave oven and switching it on. He later defended this by saying, "I put Wales in there because Scotland wouldn't fit."
In 2005, Clarkson received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Oxford Brookes University. His views on the environment precipitated a small demonstration at the award ceremony for his honorary degree, when Clarkson was pied by road protester Rebecca Lush. Clarkson took this incident in good humour, responding 'good shot' and subsequently referring to Lush as "Banana girl". Clarkson has spoken in support of hydrogen cars.
In 2008, an internet petition was posted on the Prime Minister's Number 10 website to "Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister". By the time it closed, it had attracted 49,446 signatures. An opposing petition posted on the same site set to "Never, Ever Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister" attracted 87 signatures. Clarkson later commented he would be a rubbish Prime Minister as he is always contradicting himself in his columns. In their official response to the petition, Number 10 agreed with Clarkson's comments.
In response to the reactions he gets, Clarkson has stated "I enjoy this back and forth, it makes the world go round but it is just opinion." On the opinion that his views are influential enough to topple car companies, he has argued that he has proof that he has had no influence.
Clarkson has a keen interest in the British Armed Forces and several of his DVDs and television shows have featured a military theme, whether it be flying in military jets or several Clarkson focused Top Gear spots having a military theme such as Clarkson escaping a Challenger 2 tank in a Range Rover, a Lotus Exige evading missile lock from an Apache attack helicopter, a platoon of Irish Guardsmen shooting at a Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLK, or using a Ford Fiesta as a Royal Marine landing craft. Clarkson visited British troops in Baghdad in October 2005.
In 2003, Clarkson presented The Victoria Cross: For Valour looking at recipients of the Victoria Cross, in particular focusing on his father-in-law, Robert Henry Cain, who received a VC for actions during the Battle of Arnhem in World War II.
In 2007, Clarkson wrote and presented Jeremy Clarkson: Greatest Raid of All Time, a documentary about the World War II Operation Chariot, a 1942 Commando raid on the docks of Saint-Nazaire in occupied France. At the end of 2007, Clarkson became a patron of Help for Heroes, a charity aiming to raise money to provide better facilities to wounded British servicemen. His effort led to the 2007 Christmas appeal in The Sunday Times supporting Help for Heroes.
Clarkson is passionate about engineering, especially pioneering work.
In his book, I Know You Got Soul he describes many machines that he believes possess a soul. He cited the Concorde crash as his inspiration, feeling a sadness for the demise of the machine as well as the passengers. Clarkson was a passenger on the last BA Concorde flight on 24 October 2003. Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong he described the retirement of the fleet as "This is one small step for a man, but one huge leap backwards for mankind".
He briefly acquired an English Electric Lightning F1A jet fighter XM172, which was installed in the front garden of his country home. The Lightning was subsequently removed on the orders of the local council, which "wouldn't believe my claim that it was a leaf blower", according to Clarkson on a Tiscali Motoring webchat. In fact, the whole affair was set up for his programme Speed, and the Lightning is now back serving as gate guardian at Wycombe Air Park (formerly RAF Booker).
In a Top Gear episode, Clarkson drove the Bugatti Veyron in a race across Europe against a Cessna private aeroplane. The Veyron was an £850,000 technology demonstrator project built by Volkswagen to become the fastest production car, but a practical road car at the same time. In building such an ambitious machine, Clarkson described the project as "a triumph for lunacy over common sense, a triumph for man over nature and a triumph for Volkswagen over absolutely every other car maker in the world." After winning the race, Clarkson announced that "It's quite a hollow victory really, because I've got to go for the rest of my life knowing that I'll never own that car. I'll never experience that power again."
Clarkson owns or has owned:
- Volvo XC90
- Range Rover TDV8 Vogue SE
- Lotus Elise 111S
- Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser
- Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG
- Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
- Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black
- BMW 3.0L CSL
- Honda CR-X
- Ferrari F355
- Aston Martin V8 Vantage
- Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6
- Ford GT
- Ford Focus
- Ford Cortina
- Ford Escort RS Cosworth
- Jaguar XJR
- Jeep Wrangler
- Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
- Volkswagen Golf GTI
- Volkswagen Scirocco 1
- Volkswagen Scirocco 2
- Toyota Land Cruiser
Clarkson wanted to purchase the Ford GT after admiring its inspiration, the Ford GT40 race cars of the 1960s. Clarkson was able to secure a place on the shortlist for the few cars that would be imported to Britain to official customers, only through knowing Ford's head of PR through a previous job. After waiting years and facing an increased price, he found many technical problems with the car. After "the most miserable month's motoring possible," he returned it to Ford for a full refund. After a short period, including asking Top Gear fans for advice over the Internet, he bought back his GT. He called it "the most unreliable car ever made", because he was never able to complete a return journey with it. In 2006, Clarkson ordered a Gallardo Spyder and sold the Ford GT to make way for it. In August 2008, he sold the Gallardo because "idiots in Peugeots kept trying to race [him] in it". In October, he announced that he had sold his Volvo XC90. In January 2009, in a review of the car printed in The Times, he wrote: "I’ve just bought my third Volvo XC90 in a row and the simple fact is this: it takes six children to school in the morning."
Clarkson has spoken highly of the Czech-made Škoda Yeti, calling it possibly the best car in the world, and used 20 minutes of a Top Gear episode putting the Yeti through a number of challenges to support his point. Clarkson called the Brera, Alfa's latest sports car, "Cameron Diaz on wheels". Clarkson has expressed fondness for late-model V8 Holdens, available in the UK rebadged as Vauxhalls. Of the Monaro he said, "It's like they had a picture of me on their desk and said [Australian accent] 'Let's build that bloke a car!'" and "I can't believe it... I've fallen in love... with a Vauxhall!" Clarkson suffered two slipped discs that he attributed to driving the Monaro, which he described as being "back-breakingly marvellous". Clarkson considers the Lexus LFA as the best car he has ever driven.
Clarkson dislikes the British car brand Rover, the last major British owned and built car manufacturer. This view stretched back to the company's time as part of British Leyland. Describing the history of the company up to its last flagship model, the Rover 75, he paraphrased Winston Churchill and stated "Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been done, so badly, by so many," citing issues with the rack and pinion steering system. In the latter years of the company, Clarkson blamed the "uncool" brand image as being more of a hindrance to sales than any faults with the cars. On its demise, Clarkson stated "I cannot even get teary and emotional about the demise of the company itself – though I do feel sorry for the workforce." Clarkson has also expressed hatred for the Toyota Prius.
Clarkson has also criticised Vauxhalls and has described Vauxhall's parent company, General Motors, as a "pensions and healthcare" company which sees the "car making side of the business as an expensive loss-making nuisance". Clarkson has expressed particular disdain for the Vauxhall Vectra, describing it as:
After a Top Gear piece by Clarkson for its launch in 1995, described by The Independent as "not doing [GM] any favours", Vauxhall complained to the BBC and announced, "We can take criticism but this piece was totally unbalanced."
Clarkson's comments and actions have sometimes resulted in complaints from viewers, car companies, and national governments.
In 2004, the BBC apologised unreservedly and paid £250 in compensation to a Somerset parish council, after Clarkson damaged a 30-year-old horse-chestnut tree by driving into it to test the strength of a Toyota Hilux. In December 2006, the BBC complaints department upheld the complaint of four Top Gear viewers that Clarkson had used the phrase "ginger beer" (rhyming slang for "queer") in a derogatory manner, when Clarkson picked up on and agreed with an audience member's description of the Daihatsu Copen as being a bit "gay". The Top Gear: Polar Special was criticised by the BBC Trust for glamorising drink driving in a scene showing Clarkson and James May in a vehicle, despite Clarkson saying to the camera, "And please do not write to us about drinking and driving, because I am not driving I am sailing" (as they were on top of international, frozen waters). They stated the scene "was not editorially justified" despite occurring outside the jurisdiction of any drink-driving laws.
In a later incident during a Top Gear episode broadcast on 13 November 2005, Clarkson, while talking about a Mini design that might be "quintessentially German", made a mock Nazi salute, and made references to the Hitler regime and the German invasion of Poland by suggesting the GPS "only goes to Poland".
In November 2008, Clarkson attracted over 500 complaints to the BBC when he joked about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes. The BBC stated the comment was a comic rebuttal of a common misconception about lorry drivers and was within the viewer's expectation of Clarkson's Top Gear persona. Chris Mole, the Member of Parliament for Ipswich, where five prostitutes were murdered in 2006, wrote a "strongly worded" letter to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, demanding that Clarkson be sacked. Clarkson dismissed Mole's comments in his Sunday Times column the following weekend, writing, "There are more important things to worry about than what some balding and irrelevant middle-aged man might have said on a crappy BBC2 motoring show." Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of the Eddie Stobart Group, a major trucking company, stated that "They were just having a laugh. It's the 21st century, let's get our sense of humour in line."
In July 2009, Clarkson was reported to have called then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown "a silly cunt" during a warm-up while recording a Top Gear show. Although several newspapers reported that he had subsequently argued with BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow, who was present at the recording, the BBC denied that he had been given a "dressing down". John Whittingdale, Conservative chair of the Culture Select Committee remarked: "Many people will find that offensive, many people will find that word in particular very offensive [...] I am surprised he felt it appropriate to use it."
In July 2010, Clarkson reportedly angered gay rights campaigners after he made a remark on Top Gear that did not get aired on the 4 July episode. But guest Alastair Campbell wrote about it on Twitter. Clarkson said: "I demand the right not to be bummed". The BBC later said that they cut this remark out as they "edited down" the interview as it was too long to fit into the show. In an episode aired after the watershed on 1 August 2010, Clarkson described a Ferrari F430 as "special needs". He said the car owned by co-presenter James May looked "like a simpleton". Media regulator Ofcom investigated after receiving two complaints, and found that the comments "were capable of causing offence" but did not censure the BBC.
On 12 January 2012, the Indian High Commission lodged a formal complaint with the BBC over the "tasteless" antics of Clarkson's Top Gear Christmas special where he mocked India's culture and people. During the 90-minute special, which was aired twice over the Christmas break, Clarkson made a string of jokes about Indian food, clothes, toilets, trains and history. On an episode of Top Gear broadcast on 5 February 2012, Clarkson compared a Japanese car/camper van to a person with a growth on their face. A major UK charity that supports people with facial disfigurements, Changing Faces, complained to the BBC and Ofcom after Clarkson's remarks.
In an unused take for a Top Gear feature recorded in early 2012, Clarkson is alleged to have mumbled the ethnic slur "nigger" when repeating the children's rhyme Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. The clip later surfaced on the website of the Daily Mirror tabloid at the beginning of May 2014. In the take, Clarkson attempts to mumble the sentence so as to obscure the word, but admitted that upon a close listening, the word could still be heard. Clarkson apologised for his efforts not being "quite good enough" to ensure the footage was not used. It was reported on 3 May, that the BBC had given Clarkson a final warning, with the presenter accepting that he would be sacked if he made another offensive remark.
Near the end of the Top Gear: Burma Special, which aired March 2014, Clarkson and Hammond were seen admiring a wooden bridge, which they had built during the episode. Clarkson is quoted as saying "That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it" as a native crosses the bridge, 'slope' being a pejorative for Asians. Top Gear Executive Producer Andy Wilman responded: "When we used the word slope in the recent Top Gear Burma Special it was a light-hearted word play joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it. We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word slope is considered by some to be offensive."
In October 2014, Clarkson attracted controversy when filming the Top Gear: Patagonia Special after driving a Porsche 928 in Argentina with the licence plate H982 FKL, allegedly referring to the 1982 Falklands War. Also, during the broadcast itself, Clarkson was seen referring to the controversy that had risen after the Burma Special; when inspecting a bridge, which he and his colleagues had built during the episode, he was quoted as saying "That is a proud moment, Hammond, but... is it straight?"
In October 1998, Hyundai complained to the BBC about what they described as "bigoted and racist" comments he made at the Birmingham Motor Show, where he was reported as saying that the people working on the Hyundai stand had "eaten a dog" and that the designer of the Hyundai XG had probably eaten a spaniel for his lunch. Clarkson also allegedly referred to those working on the BMW stand as "Nazis", although BMW said they would not be complaining.
In April 2007, he was criticised in the Malaysian parliament for having described one of their cars, the Perodua Kelisa, as the worst in the world, adding that "its name was like a disease and [suggesting] it was built in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes". A Malaysian government minister countered, pointing out that no complaints had been received from UK customers who had bought the car.
While in Australia, Clarkson made disparaging remarks aimed at the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in February 2009, calling him a "one-eyed Scottish idiot" and accused him of lying.
His 4 September 2011 column for The Sun newspaper drew angry remarks in response to Clarkson's call to abolish the Welsh language: "I think we are fast approaching the time when the United Nations should start to think seriously about abolishing other languages. What's the point of Welsh, for example? All it does is provide a silly maypole around which a bunch of hotheads can get all nationalistic."
On 30 November 2011, while being interviewed on the BBC's The One Show, Clarkson commented on the UK's public sector strike that day, lauding the capital's empty roads. After mentioning the BBC's need for balance, he said, "I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families." The programme later apologised for his remarks, with further apologies issued by Clarkson and the BBC. These remarks had attracted 21,335 complaints to the BBC within 36 hours; the BBC also received 314 messages of support for Clarkson.
Clarkson was criticised by the mental health charity Mind for his 3 December 2011 column for The Sun, in which he described those who jump in front of trains as "Johnny Suicide" and argues that following a death, trains should carry on their journeys as soon as possible. He adds: "The train cannot be removed nor the line re-opened until all of the victim's body has been recovered. And sometimes the head can be half a mile away from the feet."... "Change the driver, pick up the big bits of what's left of the victim, get the train moving as quickly as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away or hard to find."
Clarkson often discusses high speed driving on public roads, criticising road safety campaigns involving cameras and speed bumps.
In March 2015, Clarkson was suspended by the BBC from Top Gear following a "fracas" with one of the show's producers. It emerged that Clarkson had been involved in a dispute over catering while filming on location in Hawes, North Yorkshire. Clarkson had been offered soup and a cold meat platter, instead of the steak he wanted, because the hotel chef had gone home.
The BBC announced that the next episode of the show would not be broadcast on 15 March. It was later announced through the BBC's website that the network would be likely to drop the remaining two episodes of the series as well in the wake of the incident, which involved Clarkson punching producer Oisin Tymon, who was later treated in the hospital. Tymon also claimed that Clarkson had called him a "lazy Irish cunt". Clarkson's contract with the BBC expired at the end of March, and a previously proposed three-year renewal was withdrawn.
A Change.org petition, aiming to reverse the BBC decision, was started on 10 March by blogger Guido Fawkes. The petition reached its target 1,000,000 signatures by the afternoon of 20 March, and was delivered to the BBC in an artillery vehicle by a man dressed as Top Gear test driver The Stig, with Fawkes as spokesman. The hosting website described the petition as the fastest-growing campaign in its history.
On 19 March 2015, at a charity auction at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London, Clarkson launched into a verbal tirade against BBC studio bosses related to his suspension from the programme, saying "The BBC have fucked themselves." He later stated that this was "meant in jest".
On 25 March 2015, the BBC released an official statement confirming that, as a result of the actions which led to his suspension, they would not be renewing his contract with the show. Following the statement, North Yorkshire Police requested to view the report and stated that "action will be taken by North Yorkshire police where necessary". However, Tymon has informed the police that he does not wish to press charges against Clarkson, and Clarkson urged fans of the show to stop trolling Tymon on social media, as what happened was not his fault. British police have announced they are investigating death threats made against BBC Director-General Tony Hall over the issue. Less than 24 hours after his dismissal, Clarkson was approached by Zvezda, a Russian state broadcaster, to present a motoring programme.
In his Sunday Times column on 19 April, Clarkson revealed that two days before he hit Tymon, he had been told by his doctor that a lump he had could be cancer of the tongue. Testing later confirmed that it was not cancerous. In the same column, he stated that he had initially considered retiring from television following his dismissal, but was now planning a new motoring programme.
In November 2015, Tymon sued Clarkson and the BBC for racial discrimination over the verbal abuse he received in the March incident. The following February, Clarkson formally apologised to Tymon and settled the racial discrimination and personal injury claim for £100,000.
Clarkson married Alex Hall in 1989, but she left him for one of his friends after six months.
In May 1993, he married his manager, Frances Cain, daughter of VC recipient Robert Henry Cain, in Fulham. The couple lived in Chipping Norton, in the Cotswolds, with their three children. Clarkson has been described as a member of the Chipping Norton set. Known for buying him car-related gifts, for Christmas 2007 Clarkson's second wife bought him a Mercedes-Benz 600. She was reported to have filed divorce proceedings in April 2014.
In September 2010, Clarkson was granted a privacy injunction against his first wife to prevent her from publishing claims that their sexual relationship continued after his second marriage (see AMM v HXW). He voluntarily lifted the injunction in October 2011, commenting that: "Injunctions don’t work. You take out an injunction against somebody or some organisation and immediately news of that injunction and the people involved and the story behind the injunction is in a legal-free world on Twitter and the Internet. It’s pointless."
Clarkson is a fan of the progressive rock band Genesis and attended the band's reunion concert at Twickenham Stadium in 2007. He also provided sleeve notes for the reissue of the album Selling England by the Pound as part of the Genesis 1970–1975 box set.
Clarkson was involved in a protracted legal dispute about access to a "permissive path" across the grounds of his second home, a converted lighthouse, on the Isle of Man between 2005 and 2010, after reports that dogs had attacked and killed sheep on the property. Clarkson and his wife had claimed that four sheep were deliberately killed after being chased into the sea by a dog let off its lead. He lost the dispute after the Isle of Man government held a public inquiry, and he was told to re-open the footpath. The decision was affirmed by the Isle of Man High Court.
On 4 August 2017, he was admitted to hospital after falling ill with pneumonia while on a family vacation in Majorca, Spain and was being treated in a hospital there. He subsequently said he could "breathe out harder and for longer than a non-smoking 40-year-old" and had 96 per cent capacity for a person his age. "In short, getting on for three-quarters of a million fags have not harmed me in any way. I have quite literally defied medical science".