3 May 2014

Gagging for it…….

Jeremy Clarkson has never been a particular favourite of mine. Its not that he can't seem to accept that WW2 is over. Its not that he's failed to realise that Great Britain doesn't have a domestic car industry anymore. Its not that he makes a fortune out of being a lout. The reason that I don't much like him is that he ruined what was, at one time, a very good tv programme, Top Gear, by turning it into a tv version of a Lads Mag.

Now, I can't argue with the fact that since 2002, Top Gear has become the BBC's most valuable franchise and has managed to attract 8M viewers for a single broadcast (final episode, 9th series) but as far as content goes, its in the dumper. And then there are the gaffe's.

On 'The One Show', Clarkson suggested that striking public sector workers should be "executed in front of their families", which he meant as a joke. Clarkson wrote that people who commit suicide by jumping under trains are "selfish" because of the disruption caused to commuters. Clarkson also managed to describe a car that, "in the corners it will get its tail out more readily than George Michael".

Some might defend Clarkson because 'he's a bit of a lad' or because 'everyone knows that he's only having a laugh' but when someone so consistently gives offence, you have to wonder what is actually going on inside their head. Why can't he present a programme about cars without making slurs about foreigners, Germans, asians, gays or any other societal element that he isn't part of? Probably because Top Gear is no longer about cars - its about three blokes who have conned their employers into thinking that they are funny.

Compare 'Top Gear' to 'Later………with Jools Holland'. Ok, there isn't much of a comparison. 'Later' attracts a huge range of artists from every corner of the globe, musicians of the highest calibre who clearly want to be in the company of their peers. 'Top Gear' has three louts whose ambition stretches as far as writing 'Man Love' on the side of a pick-up truck and driving it through the rural southern states of America, for a laugh.

The same three louts manage to attract some sympathy when they drive through the dead zone around Chernobyl, clearly ignorant of the fact that a girl on a motorbike has been doing exactly the same thing for some years, since 2004 I believe. And the girl, whose name is given as Elena, has told something of the story of Chernobyl, something that the three louts failed to do.

The more that I think about it, Clarkson, May and Hammond represent the worst that contemporary television has to offer. And I hope that the BBC take notice of the straw pole that Jonathan Dimbleby conducted on 'Any Questions' this week. Broadcasting from Bristol, there was a question about Clarkson's use of the n word. After the subject had been discussed by the panel, Dimbleby asked the audience for a show of hands with regard to Clarkson's continued presentation of 'Top Gear'. Evidently the majority of the audience wanted him gone.

I hope that Clarkson was a man of his time, and I hope that his time has been and gone.