With the recent news of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s firing by the BBC, most responses have come in two forms: “This sucks!” or “It’s about time!”
The former stems from the popular show host’s massive fan base, which rallied around him with a Change.org petition calling for his reinstatement after his initial suspension. To date, the petition has garnered over a million signatures, but this wasn’t enough to sway the BBC.
The latter points to Clarkson’s oft-reported penchant for saying and doing outrageous things, both on and off camera. From racist and homophobic comments he allegedly made, to throwing punches and wielding chainsaws in a threatening manner, Clarkson’s detractors have plenty of evidence to support their distaste.
Here’s a look at some of the media personality’s more colorful moments.
That Time He Threatened Richard Hammond With A Chainsaw
Top Gear fans have come to love the show for the cars it features and the gags its co-hosts pull on one another. Being the tallest, oldest, and grayist of the bunch, Clarkson’s persona quickly developed a get-off-my-lawn mentality as a result. Fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May took great joy in egging the old man on.
That’s the context for Clarkson’s wielding the chainsaw in clip above. Out of context it’s a violent and scary act, but fans familiar with it wouldn’t bat an eye. Still, his final jab at Hammond’s short height becoming shorter can easily be interpreted as more than a joke.
That Time He Called For Striking Workers To Be Executed
In late 2011, public service workers across London were on strike. Clarkson visited BBC’s The One Show in December, and when the hosts asked him about the strike, he said, “Frankly, I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.” That comment came after another more positive one, and Clarkson was merely trying to illustrate the BBC’s need to maintain “balance.”
Despite the context, striking workers, unions, and viewers complained about Clarkson’s statement and called for his firing. 21,335 separate complaints were filed with the BBC just 24 hours after the initial broadcast.
That Time He Ranted Against Suicides
In the same interview, Clarkson railed against depressed and mentally unstable individuals who commonly used public transit as a means of suicide. The bit didn’t initially caused little fuss — probably because everyone was still too shocked at his “execute the strikers” comment from earlier in the program.
However, Clarkson went on to write about the matter in a column for The Sun. He argued the resulting “mess” often inconvenienced commuters and public transit workers. Sure enough, those already unhappy with Clarkson picked up on the article and condemned the Top Gear host for his words.
That Time He Punched Piers Morgan In The Face
Despite all the curses, insults, and gestures, it really comes down to physicality. That’s why one of Clarkson’s most memorable moments come from the 2004 British Press Awards. In a heated moment of alcohol and ego-fueled disagreement, the television presenter confronted Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan about his paper’s coverage of certain aspects of Clarkson’s personal life.
There is some disagreement about what happened next. Clarkson – weighing in at what he admits are “heavyweight” proportions – claims Morgan slighted his wife in fairly base terms. The Mirror editor, meanwhile, says the two had an animated discussion about the paper’s stories focusing on Clarkson’s private life.
Incensed, Clarkson then attacked, swinging a right hook at Morgan. More words were exchanged before another two swift blows connected. It was more Audley Harrison than Mike Tyson, and Morgan shot back “Is that all you’ve got?” in a moment remiscent of Muhammad Ali in the original Rumble in the Jungle.
“He then tried to headbutt me – missing my nose by about an inch,” explains Morgan. “I think it is fair to say he was a little inebriated. He did then try to apologise but sadly I wasn’t massively enamoured by this gesture, given the mounting inflammation to various parts of my skull – although I’ve frankly taken worse batterings from my three-year-old son. I don’t think it helped that Jeremy didn’t win his award last night.” (Via The Guardian)
Just five months prior, Clarkson had reportedly tipped a glass of water onto Morgan during the final Concorde flight from New York to London. The feud between the two had been full steam ahead for some time then, and it wouldn’t quite any time soon.
So while we wait to find out what the former Top Gear host will do with himself, here’s a final video of his “participation” in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from last year: