And On That Bombshell Part Two – The Secret Science Behind Killing Top Gear
Top Gear is dead. Jeremy Clarkson has had his ersatz trial by media, the BBC has sacked him and so Top Gear breathes no more. Granted, the BBC could well clamp some electrodes to the programme’s nipples, crank a generator handle and make us all watch its corpse twitch for a few seasons like the Americans did with Two And A Half Men. And quite a few of us would watch a few episodes out of ghoulish interest. Like we did with Two And A Half Men.
We’d watch Top Gear twitch and convulse. There’d be movement and an unconvincing appearance of life for a little while, but it would all be a cruel illusion. Clarkson has left and that’s the end of that. Sounds a little dramatic? Maybe, but you have to remember what Top Gear is to Jeremy Clarkson. His relationship with it.
Jeremy wasn’t just one of the programme’s presenters. Back in 2002, it was Jeremy Clarkson and producer Andy Wilman who jointly pitched the idea to transform a moribund TV show from this:
Into this :
Top Gear wasn’t just a job for Mr Clarkson. It was his baby. Which is why, looking at what’s happened as reported in the newspapers, the whole thing doesn’t make any sense.
There’s an old writing adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Some things that happen in real life cannot be convincingly transplanted into stories because people wouldn’t swallow them. They’d consider them too far-fetched. And sometimes the reverse is true. This whole Top Gear debacle would appear to be a case in point. This all seems very contrived. It all feels very stage managed and I think somebody is taking somebody else for a ride.
The allegation levelled at Jeremy Clarkson was that, after a great deal of haranguing over the lack of a hot meal at the end of a long shoot, he punched one of the producers in the face. This would be quite believable if that was as far as it went. But further scrutiny of the story reveals that the producer, Oisin Tymon, was subject to a sustained, thirty second attack by Mr Clarkson. During this attack, Oisin Tymon made no attempt to defend himself.
Now, Jeremy might be getting on a bit. He’s not as fit as he was and has a slightly wonky back. But he’s also six foot five and weighs about eighteen stone. If a fella his size attacks you for thirty seconds and you don’t defend yourself, you’re coming away from the encounter with a lot more than a split lip. A split lip is the only injury Mr Tymon is reported to have sustained.
On the day Jeremy Clarkson was sacked, he was photographed riding away from Television Centre on a pushbike. Thus prompting a slew of “On Your Bike” headlines in various newspapers. A bit too convenient if you ask me. Clarkson’s opinions on cyclists are well documented. Why the hell would he choose a bike as his means of transport away from that meeting? He was sacked, not banned from driving.
The whole debacle strikes me as a protracted and long term publicity stunt. There are no photos of Oisin Tymon’s injuries. The first thing that appears in the media when someone famous goes nuts and clobbers someone is endless pictures of the victim’s injuries. So why no photos? My theory is that there are no photos because there are no injuries. My theory is that none of the things that have been reported in the newspapers actually happened at all.
Top Gear is riding the crest of its wave. If you want to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of a programme, you don’t wait for that wave to break and then do something about it. You kill that programme dramatically and end on a high, leaving all of its fans panting for more. Then when you bring it back by popular demand, it’s got higher ratings than ever and a greatly extended shelf life to boot.
It’s the same principle that Coca Cola used when they introduced “New Coke”, acted all surprised that everyone hated it and then reluctantly brought back “Classic Coke”. And, surprise surprise, having been denied Classic Coke for months, the public bought it by the crateful.
This has happened on television before, back in the 70s. Bob Monkhouse hosted a show called The Golden Shot. This was a bizarre programme where contestants answered questions and then fired off live crossbows at a prize target. Weird stuff, but it was very popular. Then Bob Monkhouse was accused of taking bribes and he was sacked. A comedian called Norman Vaughan took over and it was a disaster. Then another comedian called Charlie Williams took over and it was even worse. So Bob Monkhouse was re-hired and the show was back and more popular than ever.
This probably sounds a bit cynical. What can I say? I’m a cynic, that’s how we think. There could be a more warm and fuzzy explanation though. The BBC is an excruciatingly right-on organization. They take their duty of care to all their employees very seriously. Jeremy Clarkson has had a bit of a rough ride in his personal life in recent years. The cracks are beginning to show.
He even rang Piers Morgan up to tell him that he didn’t have the emotional energy to hate him anymore and wanted to call a truce on their long running media vendetta. If you haven’t got the energy to hate Piers Morgan, you’re in a bad fucking way.
So maybe this whole furore has been created by the BBC to allow Jezza to discreetly slink away and sort himself out so he can come back refreshed and continue to be their – and his own- cash cow.
Either way, I’m going to make a prediction. Top Gear will be back and it will star Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson. We may have to temporarily put up with a lame version presented by Russell Brand, Graham Norton and Chris Packham or some other random trio of twats. But sooner or later it will be back in its intended form. In the form that we all know and love, even people who don’t even like cars all that much. Of which I am one.
Top Gear is dead. Long live Top Gear.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015