, LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 25 – The BBC has dropped one of its most popular presenters, “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson, two weeks after he was suspended over an altercation with a producer, reports said Wednesday.
The controversial star of the motoring show, which draws more than 350 million viewers around the world, will not have his contract renewed when it expires at the end of the month, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Sky News also said that Clarkson had been sacked, while The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that he was expected to be let go on Wednesday.
The BBC said Clarkson was suspended after a “fracas”, reported to be a verbal and physical assault on show producer Oisin Tymon after the star failed to receive a hot meal after a day’s filming.
The suspension sparked nationwide debate, with Prime Minister David Cameron among those weighing in on Clarkson’s side and more than one million signing an online petition calling for him to be reinstated.
According to the Telegraph, an internal investigation found that Clarkson verbally abused Tymon for 20 minutes, before launching a 30-second physical assault on him.
“There can’t be one rule for talent and one rule for ordinary human beings,” a source told The Guardian.
A BBC spokesman told AFP: “We’ve got nothing further to add on this. We’ll let people know when we have something to announce.”
Any decision to drop Clarkson could have major financial ramifications for the BBC.
“Top Gear” earns around £50 million (Sh6.8bn) each year for the broadcaster’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.
But Clarkson was already on his last warning from the BBC, for whom he has worked since 1988, after drawing fire over a string of inflammatory remarks.
Most damaging for Clarkson have been accusations of using the N-word while reciting an old nursery rhyme in leaked footage, something the presenter denied.
He was also accused of making a racially offensive comment about an Asian man.
“Top Gear” has regularly been criticised over its depiction and jokes at the expense of Albanians, Romanians and Germans among others.
Last year, the team fled Argentina after residents hurled stones at a Porsche Clarkson was driving whose licence plates appeared to make reference the Falklands War.
The BBC was also forced to apologised to Mexico after the show described Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.