As a fan of BBC’s Top Gear, I’m very sad today. As a part of the compliance community, though, I am pleased.
[bctt tweet=”@AdamTurteltaub As a fan of BBC’s #TopGear, I’m very sad today. As a part of the #compliance community, though, I am pleased.”]
This was the latest in a long series of incidents for Clarkson, who is as good at offending people as he is at entertaining them.
The decision may be the death knell for the show.
For those unfamiliar with it, Top Gear is nominally a car show, but it is really a show about its three presenters – Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – having fun in cars and getting into various predicaments. It is also arguably, the most popular show in the world. It airs weekly in 200 countries and has 350 million viewers.
Top Gear is a very lucrative franchise for the BBC, reportedly bringing in nearly $75 million in revenue.
And Jeremy Clarkson is the largest person and personality on the show.
Ultimately BBC Chief Lord Tony Hall realized it was time to say enough to Clarkson and his outsized behavior. Said Hall, “There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.”
In a statement Lord Hall paid Clarkson a compliment, “This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.”
Some will take offense at complimenting Clarkson at this time. And I admit the note sounds a bit off. But I think it’s a note worth sounding. What makes Hall’s decision more significant is this: had Clarkson not made such an “extraordinary contribution” the decision to fire him would likely have been easier and garnered far less attention.
Calling attention to his virtues makes holding him accountable for his failings all the more important for the institution.