Twelve months after being sacked for punching his producer, a period in which he also lost his mother and his home, Jeremy Clarkson has laid bare his tempestuous relationship with senior BBC executives, during in an interview in Barbados with Charlotte Edwardes from The Times.
During the interview, Clarkson accused senior managers from the BBC of failing to support him following the death of his mother and pursuing an investigation into allegations of racism at a time when he was emotionally vulnerable. The investigation was triggered by reports that Clarkson had called an Asian man a ‘slope’.
“No one gave a shit in Asia,” Clarkson said. “They were alerted to the fact that there was a ‘deeply racist’ slur in the footage, and said, ‘That’s not deeply racist,’ and transmitted it unedited. Which is what I thought would happen.”
The BBC pursued the complaint, despite his plea for the corporation to take into account the bereavement. “My mother’s just died. Please leave me alone. But they wouldn’t,” Clarkson said. “And it was bad. There was quite a lot of pressure that year even for a jovial soul like me to handle.”
He has singled out Danny Cohen, the director of television for particular criticism. “Danny and I were, and I suspect will remain for ever, very far apart on every single thing. Normally, you could find some common ground with somebody, but I think Danny and I could probably only get on perfectly well so long as we absolutely never had to think about each other for the rest of the time. Because I don’t mind anyone having an opinion that’s different to mine, just so long as they don’t mind my opinion either. So long as it doesn’t impinge on what I want to do,” he said.
Mr Cohen called Clarkson into his office after hearing he’d named his black West Highland terrier, Didier Drogba – after the iconic African footballer and star of Clarkson’s favourite team, Chelsea. After Clarkson threw a punch at Oisin Tymon, Cohen finally won and Jeremy was sacked from Top Gear. “I wasn’t sacked. What was it? Oh yes, they ‘didn’t renew my contract’. I was sacked,” Clarkson says. “There was public outcry. A petition calling for his reinstatement was signed by more than one million people.”
When asked by Edwardes to describe the year he has had, Clarkson initially swerved and shrugged off tricky questions with, “Wait just a cotton-picking minute. I drive round corners too quickly while shouting. That is my job. Ask me what it’s like to have a Ferrari sliding sideways and you’ve got to do a piece to camera before the power slide is over.”
And then he said, “In one year I lost my mother, my house, my job. How do you think I fucking felt?”