It’s a bit difficult to describe Jeremy Clarkson, as he sometimes makes decent jokes but doesn’t know when he's stepped out of bounds. On top of that, his views of himself aren't coherent, as he says his public persona isn’t an accurate representation of his personal self, all of which is complicated by the innate difficulty present with parsing out the “public” self from the “personal” self.
And while he himself has often said that people shouldn’t take his words seriously, his actions and words are relatively powerful, even having been associated with the closure of the Rover and Luton plant of Vauxhall motors. All this led to the “Anti-Clarkson Campaign” by the Rover workers. Of course, that wasn’t the first time someone was mad at Clarkson; nor was it going to be the last time, unfortunately… He can’t seem to keep his mouth shut, which, if he did appropriately, I bet would cause a little less trouble in his life. For instance, he found himself listed in 66th place on the 100 Worst Britons We Love to Hate show. In fact, The Independent also deemed him criminal in that respect. He's truly notorious for his acidic comments.
But that’s only one side of the story. Several automotive magazines consider him to be one of the most influential individuals in the industry. And of course, he smoothly ran the show Top Gear for over two decades. So, let’s dive in!
18 Early Childhood = Trouble
While his parents sold tea—cozy for a business—they didn’t make enough money to do what they prematurely did: Enter Clarkson’s name at a private school. On a sunny morning—scratch that; it was England—his parents had made a pair of Paddington Bear stuffed animals that were such a hit, they were able to put him through the private school for which they had already signed him up for.
Unfortunately, he didn’t like one of the two private schools he attended. At the Repton school, he was severely bullied and suffered assaults, like being beaten at nights, forced to lick bathrooms clean, and the like—you get the picture. He wasn’t having a blast. He was eventually expelled from that school because of “drinking, smoking, and generally making a nuisance of himself” (wikipedia.org).
17 Early Career = Writer
While you now probably know him for being a loudmouth Top Gear commentator, he used to be a writer. After he did his first job of selling those Paddington Bear toys, he received training as a journalist at the Rotherham Advertiser, eventually writing for Wolverhampton Express, StarRochdale Observer, and Lincolnshire Life.
He wrote regularly for Top Gear magazine and mentions how important it was for him to write for these small publishing companies before he caught the bigger fish.
While you might think everything was easy in his life, you have to realize he started out writing about and driving Peugeots and Fiats and then Ford Granadas and Rovers. It was only seven years later that he was allowed to drive an Aston Martin Lagonda. Lamborghini gave him a chance after 10 years.
16 Put On The Hot Seat On What Not to Wear
I don’t know if you ever saw him back then, but the guy always had jeans on, regardless of whether he was at home or on shows. And while he’d don a jacket, the jacket would also look like it was made out of the same material that his jeans were. Oh, by the way, these were all good clothes, because when you see him in his loose shirts, you start wondering who his clothing designer is. So, Trinny and Susannah, hosts of On What Not to Wear, decided to help him out. With retorts like “No” to questions like “Are you willing to be open-minded, Jeremy?” it was no surprise that he didn’t get much from the show. But then again, that’s the same mindset that made him successful, so we’ll not comment on that further.
15 Here I Come, North Pole
Top Gear decided to make an episode on Clarkson and partners reaching the moving North Pole in different rides. So, Clarkson was paired with James May and given a highly modified Toyota Hilux, which by the way, is indestructible, as shown in another episode. It had humongous bespoke snow tires that had excellent traction even at severely low pressures, had a modified engine, and was equipped with a 90-liter auxiliary fuel tank. The film crew tagged along in another modified Hilux. To make this a little more interesting, the show had Richard Hammond, paired with explorer Matty McNair, compete against Clarkson on a dog sled. While you might think that Clarkson would've won easily, there were some adversities that had defeated both teams before Clarkson and May eventually pulled through and won.
14 Contempt For All
He seems to have contempt for everything, some of this contempt being in accord with your beliefs and some, perhaps not. For instance, he's against the role of governments and how any given government regulates so much. He thinks the government should “build park benches and that is it” (wikipedia.org). While I understand where he's coming from, if the government did only what he has in mind, we’d likely be dead at the whim of some monarch. It’s difficult to get everyone to get along without laws. You might be thinking he’s exaggerating, but considering he's appeared on shows like Grumpy Old Men and hates caravans, houseflies, golf club mentality, and vegetarians, the possibility that he’s a little more than exaggerating can’t be ruled out, regardless of the fact that I agree with him on the golf-club part.
13 View On Environment Is Complicated
This one is a bit complicated. On the one hand, he detests environmentalists, including corporations such as Greenpeace, and has even more negative views of things like wind farms. He thinks wind farms will be described in the future as “a reminder of the time when mankind temporarily took leave of its senses and decided wind, waves, and lashings of tofu could somehow generate enough electricity for the whole planet” (wikipedia.org). Perhaps, he should have a little more faith in such endeavors, which, albeit slow currently, will eventually make the world a better place in the future. Making matters more complex is the fact that he denies any significant impact on the carbon dioxide footprint by human beings yet is cognizant of the effects of global warming and encourages others to think of the consequences of it.
12 Make Public Your Bank Account? Lose Money Instantly!
Remember the whole deal about losing child-benefit data in the UK in 2007? (If you don’t, here’s a synopsis. Two discs containing all the information about children receiving benefit were lost en route.) The entire public was in an uproar, anxiety and panic spreading everywhere. Clarkson believed that people were making a big fuss over something very trivial. So, he published his own bank account number and all the relevant information in an easy-to-read format in The Sun newspaper, thinking that no one would tamper with his account. Lo and behold, someone had set up a monthly deposit of £500 to the very kind organization Diabetes UK. Later, he was given a refund, and he even made a point to say that he was wrong. Isn’t he glad no evil genius found his information?
11 Eating Cake At The Graduation Ceremony
So, he was on his way to receive the honorary title "Doctor of Engineering" from the Oxford Brookes University in 2005 when he got pied by a road protester. And man, you should've seen the incident. There were so many cameras and security guards, and Clarkson was dressed for the occasion, then out came this lady from the right side, smashing the pie on his face. While your reaction might've been that of anger, Clarkson only had to say, “Good shot.” It was so calm that it seems like it was staged, but it’s not, as the security kept repeating “Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy on and on, while escorting him back to the building. He posed in front of the camera for several pictures and even said it had a lot of sugar, tasting the remnants from his face.
10 Becoming The Prime Minister?
Exactly a decade ago, there was internet momentum to make Clarkson the Prime Minister of England, and a petition was put up on the “Number 10” website of the Prime Minister. There were about 50K supporters that had signed before the petition was closed. Simultaneously, a petition to "Never, Ever Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister” was also posted, which was supported by 87 people. Clarkson’s take on all this? He’d make a rubbish Prime Minister since he himself thinks he contradicts himself in his columns, and the government agreed with Clarkson. Imagine that? Clarkson being the Prime Minister of England? There goes the civilization. But in all seriousness, though, who knows what he would've been like since, after all, he was for the notion of a “United States of Europe.”
9 Fascination With The Military
Of the peculiar interests he has, one of them is his fascination with anything related to the military. To that end, a lot of his shows are military-themed, with him even flying military jets and escaping military vehicles like the Challenger 2 tank. He also visited troops in Baghdad in 2005. He took things one step further by writing and presenting a documentary on the World War II Operation Chariot, which I guess was a fascinating operation, as the British commandos were supposed to attack German warships in France, with traps set elsewhere to capture the ships returning for repair. Anyway, it was a good documentary by Clarkson, and by the end of it, he even started helping out the charity Help for Heroes… He actually likes this military thing.
8 Oh No, A Wall!
In an attempt to see how difficult truck drivers have it, Clarkson’s job was to smash a Renault Magnum truck through a wall at its legal driving speed of 56 mph. Well, he did that and came out with debilitating pain in his hand, back, and leg. In his own words, “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think” (dailymail.co.uk). With an index finger that looked like a “burst sausage” and severe back bruises, we can’t blame him. He went on to state that everyone should experience something similar to this before being given a license, for "it would let them know that crashes really, really hurt and that it would be a good idea to not have one" (dailymail.co.uk). Well, I guess that must've been extremely painful.
7 Drunk Driving… In The North Pole
While shooting for the Polar Special, both Clarkson and May were broadcast drinking and driving on the icy terrains of the Arctic. Their reasoning was that the crew was in international waters at that time, meaning no laws on driving under the influence applied. And being the person Clarkson is, he justified the scene by saying it wasn’t driving but “sailing” through the frozen waters that he was doing. BBC higher-ups realized that you don’t “sail” with something that has four wheels and even acknowledged that such a scene could “glamorize the misuse of alcohol.” There was no reason for them to broadcast that scene, BBC executives said. Moreover, a Greenpeace speaker ended up chastising the entire show for being highly immature for spreading CO2 in an already prone region.
6 Let’s Insult... Umm... Germany?
While discussing BMWs and Minis on an episode, Hammond was talking about a car being “quintessentially British,” at which time Clarkson opened his mouth. The gist of what came out of his mouth was that a quintessential German car would've displayed Hitler’s salutes for the turn signal and would be equipped with a satnav “that only goes to Poland.” All laughter aside, his statements were not liked by the Germans, as the BBC Board was in receipt of complaints. These complaints were examined, and lo and behold, dismissed, with the verdict being, "Committee did not believe that, when looking at the audience as a whole, they would have felt that the comments were anything more than Jeremy Clarkson using outrageous behavior to amuse his audience and that the remarks would not have led to anyone entertaining new or different feelings or concerns about Germans or Germany" (wikipedia.org).
5 Let’s Insult... Umm... Romania?
Being the Donald Trump of the car world, Clarkson referred to Romania as being a “Borat country, with gypsies and Russian playboys” (wikipedia.org) while filming one of the episodes in Romania. While he was referring to the mockumentary Borat, Romanians didn’t like his comments, considering they were never a big fan of the mockumentary itself, as it didn’t exactly paint a good picture of Romania. To make matters worse, he put on a pork-pie hat and commented, “I'm wearing this hat so the gypsies think I am [another gypsy]" (wikipedia.org). Consequently, the Romanian ambassador sent a letter, which highlighted some facts about Romania and his admiration for the show, all the while asking future showings to be edited to take care of the offensive materials.
4 Let’s Insult... Umm... Mexico?
While the insults of other countries were expressed with some hints of decency, the presenters were just brutal for Mexico. From calling cars “Tortilla” to calling Mexican cars lazy to actually insulting Mexicans, all were present. For instance, after Hammond said, “I'm sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican” (wikipedia.org), with the worst expression of disgust, Clarkson made the suggestion that you could just go back to sleep. All that didn’t stop there, as Clarkson finally retorted that the Mexican ambassador wouldn’t file any sorts of complaints out of laziness. Well, a complaint reached the BBC, which again, if you haven’t picked up the trend, justified the humor as part of the British culture, although apologized for the personal attacks on the ambassador.
3 Nullifying Nissan Leaf
Clarkson has been notoriously insulting not only to other countries, people, and individuals but also to cars, unnecessarily. And the worst part is that the show sometimes completely makes up lies in the name of “good humor.” For instance, there was a scene in the show that showed people pushing the Nissan Leaf, the electric car offered by Nissan since 2010. Apparently, the car had run out of battery, as gathered from the witty comments of Clarkson. However, the onboard data logging in the Leaf revealed that its battery had only been charged to 40% before starting the “test drive.” When people found out, Top Gear received a good dose of criticism from EV enthusiasts, newspapers, celebrities, and Nissan. This is one of the reasons why people shouldn’t take Clarkson or Top Gear all that seriously.
2 Tarnishing Tesla
The show and its presenters aren't a big fan of any EVs. For real, it once showed the Tesla Roadster running out of juice just after 55 miles, after which Clarkson said it would take 16 hours to recharge, and both of these were false, as the tested cars never reached less than 20% charge, and recharging took 3.5 hours. Top Gear stated it would stand by its findings from the show. CEO Elon Musk wrote a blog about this and even filed a suit on grounds of attempted libel in light of a prepared script found for the Tesla test drive. Here’s another reason why you shouldn’t believe Top Gear—if you needed one. Of course, the court dismissed the case, adjudicating that no one ought to listen to Top Gear.
1 Fired From Top Gear
There was a great quote I remember reading about the mind, the gist of which was “If you don’t control your mind, it will.” I guess that’s what happened with Clarkson, as he got into a dispute with a producer for not getting the steak he wanted. Later, it was revealed that Clarkson had punched and cursed at the producer, too, the poor guy being treated at a hospital. Clarkson’s then-current contract and future contract were suspended, and despite the efforts of the public via petition, BBC remained firm in its decision. While BBC didn’t move, a Russian broadcaster approached Clarkson for a motoring program, an offer which Clarkson didn’t accept. Clarkson apologized and paid the producer whom he had injured and is currently a presenter of The Grand Tour.