AA Gill has said a Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson will be an “empty coat” if the BBC decides to sack the presenter after an inquiry following a ‘fracas’ on set earlier this week.
The Sunday Times columnist, who has known Clarkson for 30 years, has criticised the BBC’s “preposterous and ponderous” decision to hold an investigation following the incident.
He added that Clarkson was a hard-working and loyal employee of the BBC, who had opted to stay working for the corporation when he was offered a more lucrative deal at Channel 5.
Gill added that Clarkson has suffered an “annus horribilis” after the death of his mother and suffering from a number of “not entirely self-inflicted health concerns”.
Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: “Those who say ‘Well, he’s just a presenter’ have no idea how much of Top Gear is down to him. The new format was created by Jeremy and his old school friend Andy Wilman, the producer.
“Jeremy does not just present, he comes up with the ideas, he also writes the scripts. All those jokes and that banter are not off-the-cuff wit.”
He added: “At the BBC, some of Jeremy’s colleagues have treated him as a liability. Not just failed to appreciate him but briefed against him while taking the hundreds of millions his talent earns them and using him image and Top Gear to promote themselves around the world.”
The Mirror reported yesterday that the investigation will be told the star shouted the abuse at Tymon, who was allegedly left with a bloodied lip which resulted in him needing hospital treatment during a “40-minute rant” over the lack of hot food at the end of the day.
Clarkson will strenuously deny using xenophobic language when he faces a disciplinary inquiry, the paper claimed.
A change.org petition to re-instate Clarkson has garnered over 900,000 signatures.