Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Bigger than the BBC

The BBC seems damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson initiated the BBC investigation which prompted his suspension, after he informed BBC bosses of the alleged “fracas”.
BBC News Website 13 March 2015 : Jeremy Clarkson approached BBC bosses about ‘fracas’

This is a man who it is widely reported was on a “final warning” following a number of instances when he “pushed the limits”. But then we see:

An online petition calling for the star’s reinstatement – set up by political blogger Guido Fawkes – has accrued almost one million signatures since the presenter’s suspension.
BBC News Website 20 March 2015 : Jeremy Clarkson alludes to ‘BBC sacking’ at charity event

So Clarkson knew he had probably over-stepped the mark and initiated a process that he knew might well lead to his sacking. Possibly he was getting bored and wanted an exit – albeit a rather arrogant one.

Or he thought that he was such a big star that he could create a situation where the BBC would have to back down. He probably holds employment disciplinary practices in the same contempt as he holds “elf ‘n safety”.

Where before have we seen a situation where the BBC believes that someone is such a big star that indiscretions and complaints should be ignored?

They are damned if they do (sack him for misbehaviour following a final warning). And they are damned if they don’t (sack him for fear of commercial loss and a backlash from “a million viewers” who believe that being entertaining should put you in a privileged position when it comes to the norms of workplace behaviour).

We have been here before – we even have a Prime Minister supporting the “star”:

Because he is such a huge talent and he amuses and entertains so many people, including my children, who’d be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air, I hope this can be sorted out, because it’s a great programme and he’s a great talent.
BBC News Website 11 March 2015 : David Cameron: Clarkson ‘is a great talent’

Now is this:

  • Populism by a Prime Minister desperate to be seen to be a “man of the people”, supporting a start who is popular with children, or
  • A Prime Minister (again) standing by friends who are not worthy of support, or
  • Another Prime Ministerial misjudgement?

Is Top Gear really Top of the Pops with the BBC and worth defending?

I now see that the broadcasters has caved in to the Prime Minister’s desires in respect of the Election Debates – so perhaps Cameron will get his way on this one as well and see someone who it appears abuses colleagues back on-screen like other stars who think they are bigger than the BBC.


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