The final decision has been made and Jeremy Clarkson was officially sacked by the BBC. James May and Richard Hammond remain in limbo state for now, but the BBC has stated that Top Gear will continue and they even opened themselves up for comments on their website for public opinion. Brave souls the Brits, but you have to give them points for nerve. The network also reported they would try to find some way to air the remaining material they have for the rest of Season 22.
BBC officials have minced no words in statements saying Clarkson was a huge contributor and entertainment force behind the scenes, but the team that makes up the program is larger than any one man. Between their magazine, online presence, and how they have spawned their product into so many other nations is impressive to say the least.
As much as I love the UK show, I’ve watched the Aussie version and I have to give them credit for doing a fine job. It takes any crew a reasonable amount of time to gel, even the early seasons of the UK show were clunky compared to the latest episodes.
Given the information that Clarkson reported himself to his superiors, and has publicly asked that the producer he punched be held blameless, I’m forced to wonder if he was looking for a simple way out. If so, his outburst surely did the trick. I was even more amazed that his on-screen barbs, however offensive they may be to some, are not what sunk his job in the end. I feel confident the BBC would’ve tolerated his political incorrectness in large doses before ever seriously sending him packing…and I think he knew that too.
I admit when I first started watching the show, I was often rubbed by the degrading American barbs, but then one only has to watch late night comedy or ‘stand up’ to see how badly our entertainers bash every other culture on the planet. In that vein, I see Clarkson as no different. The air of Brit superiority over “The Colonies” has long been a comic punching bag, and as much as we might hate to admit it, a lot of our pointed out shortcomings are real.
The trio on USA Top Gear are blending and bouncing off each other better with each series, and while I wish their format was closer to the UK show (I think they gave up on it too soon)…they are probably faced with enormous budget and insurance restraints not present in the UK. With the BBC being a public/government run entity, they have no advertisers or stock-holders to answer to.
Will Top Gear UK be different without the current team? No doubt. Will it sink? Maybe, but great quarterbacks retire and teams still win with new players. The format for a funny and exciting show still exists, and the passion for all things automotive doesn’t die with Clarkson’s exit.
The Brits have a wealth of comic talent at their disposal, and The Stig hammering around the track for Power Lap Times will still be just as awesome as it is now. Celebrities will still line up for the Reasonably Priced Car, and the supercar wars will rage on.
I’m willing to give a new crew a chance, just like I did with the History Channel version. Better that as opposed to losing my masked hero and the chance to see and hear the most phenonmenal cars in the world scream around a race course. I learned through time and harsh experience that Hollywood cannot be counted on to deliver those goods. All they know how to do is wreck and blow up anything exotic or beautiful, just for the sake of an over-reaching action sequence. Screw that.
I will forever miss the team of snarky Brits, but there were those who said Star Trek could never be re-invented or re-created. Time and talent proved that to be false.
Long live Top Gear!
– T. August Green