What do we know about Jeremy Clarkson? The answer is a lot. He isn’t shy about most things and has no problem belting out an unsolicited opinion on anything he doesn’t like. The funny thing about the list of things Jeremy doesn’t like is that it’s nearly endless.
He does like his cars, though, and he likes them fast (most of the time). We know he likes them safe too (specifically, Volvo safe). But there’s a lot more going on under the surface of Jeremy that the world really doesn’t know. Like how much he really meant to the Top Gear production; nobody would find that out until after he left and the legacy crumbled. One could actually say that the entire show, with a multi-national audience millions deep was fragile enough to come to a grinding halt over one single meal.
But do we blame the meal for canceling the show? Or do we blame Clarkson, who wallops people in the face over the meal that canceled the show? While you can’t go around being violent every time you’re hungry, a meal is not a lot to ask for when you hold an entire hit series on your back. BBC and Clarkson would soon learn a thing or two about their precarious business relationship—namely, that they both needed each other.
The deeper we dig into the life of the Top Gear legend, the more we realize how much we never really knew. For example, Top Gear connections were being formed long before anybody even knew who Clarkson was; Clarkson met the producer when they were both in school (the same school he’d get kicked out of later, coincidentally).
If that wasn’t a precursor to trouble down the road, we don’t know what would be. Dive into Jeremy’s life a little bit and get to know a side of him you never knew was there!
Clarkson would take and pass his driver’s test in 1977 at the wheel of his grandfather’s Bentley R Type. That, in itself, was more than enough to give a young man like Jeremy a whole lot of confidence. When the instructor told him “Mr. Clarkson, congratulations, you’ve passed,” what Jeremy had actually heard was, “Congratulations, you’re the best driver in the world.”
Not 36 hours after hearing the words, “you passed,” he would find himself spun out in a field, surrounded by parts of his Audi and “sheep that were no longer alive.” That's not a very promising start to an aspiring racecar driver’s career.
Or, as he puts it, “I have become to the world of “stickmanship” what Germany is to the world of cricket.” Since we don’t watch cricket (or pay attention to sports that happen elsewhere in general), we really can’t agree or disagree with Clarkson on this one.
While we secretly want to entertain the hope he can slam out some Schism with his eyes closed, that would be like asking him to tell a non-offensive joke that's actually funny: it’s just not that likely. In his defense, however, we don’t think such a joke even exists. In order for jokes to be funny, they have to sting a little bit.
It may be hard to connect all the dots, especially since Top Gear has been aired multiple times, with numerous adaptations and spin-offs popping up like daisies in the wake of the original Top Gear’s success. But the Top Gear most people know isn’t the actual original; Top Gear was actually a show from the 1970s.
It went away in 2001 but was revived again in 2002. The executive producer of the show, Andy Wilman, met Clarkson while they were attending Repton, a school Clarkson would eventually get expelled from for disorderly conduct. Apparently, his shenanigans are not highly regarded by the staff and administration of any authoritative body.
Top Gear has been described as the most widely-watched factual program in the world. Whatever that’s supposed to mean, the show finds its way into over 200 “territories” worldwide, with an audience of hundreds of millions. After he was booted from Top Gear, apparently the Russian Armed Forces Broadcasting Company invited him to do a Top Gear from Moscow (Moscow Times).
Obviously, this should happen. We can only imagine what you could expect from the former Soviet Union (tanks and surplus, please!) but if we had to take a wild stab in the dark, we’d venture to say that a whole lot more danger would be intermixed with a flagrant disregard for safety—and tanks and military surplus, please!
One could almost argue that a cornerstone of Jeremy’s fame rests upon the fact that some do pay attention to him just hoping to see him fail. His loose cannon of a mouth gets just enough people buzzing about him, without going “too” far as to really get in trouble. (If you think he’s gone too far, his trick worked on you.)
He’s also a writer, one whose pen is fueled with the same venom that his mouth is. If your name is Piers Morgan and Jeremy hears you just lost a job, count on him to write an entire feature about you titled, “Cheer up, Piers. You can always get a job as my punchbag.”
We’re not necessarily saying we don’t like Volvos; we have nothing against them. After all, they’re supposed to be the safest things on the planet, right? It’s hard to hate on something that’s just there to keep you safe. But if we ever had suspicions that somebody was paying him off for good reviews, it would have to be Volvo.
His praise for the XC90 is a never-ending crescendo that usually ends with the reference to the amount of time nobody has become a statistic in one. True as it may be, constantly alluding to that fact is only tempting fate.
This may sound like a horribly bad idea in today’s time but circa 2008, he had a loyal band of followers that were ready to march into the unknown with him at the helm. Over 28,000 citizens once signed a petition imploring Clarkson to be the Prime Minister (Daily Mail).
We’re not sure if that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work over there but the support was definitely in his pocket. Nobody even seemed to care that his reign would have destroyed the ozone in six months; especially not when he was going to abolish red-light cameras and raise the speed limit!
Jeremy is a fan of France and while France is beautiful, we’re not sure why he likes it so much. After all, the former Top Gear host has been just about everywhere; what makes France so special? As it would turn out, he was profoundly affected by France as a young lad. It was at the tender age of 19 that he’d spend time “trundling” about the country on his way to Italy.
He’d end up falling in love with the culture, despite not caring for anything to do with how it got there. “I’m not particularly interested in art or classical music, but it’s amazing to go to places like Florence and be surrounded by it.”
It’s hard to keep Clarkson down; you can fire him for whacking you in the face today, only to find that he’s taken his loyal viewers to a different platform with a spin-off TV show tomorrow. You can take the man away from the Top Gear, but you can’t take the Top Gear away from the man. His parents were similarly resilient with their handling of his career planning.
They’d signed Jeremy up for a private school education without having the means to pay for it, figuring they’d make something happen along the way. That gamble ended up paying off, and they would end up inventing the Paddington Bear, a pop-culture product that became popular enough to finance Jeremy’s education. One could say he owes everything he is to a stuffed animal.
We know Clarkson as a loose-lipped car guy who rarely, if ever, spares his opinion on account for someone else’s feelings. We actually expect him to say something offensive and that’s kinda why we like him. But the Jeremy we’ve learned to accept was never so brash in his younger years.
He was actually picked on by bullies until he found out how to get them to leave him alone. “It quickly became apparent that if you smoked and drank…[they’d leave you alone].” He’d continue to tell GQ Magazine, “I don’t think I’ve ever been funny, but I’ve always been prepared to say…the ‘unsayable’.”
You’d think, based upon everything you know of him, that his skin would be thicker than that of a rhinoceros. He sure acts like his outlook is impermeable to outside influence most of the time, but there is a chink in his armor. Even Jeremy has a weak spot.
That weak spot is Top Gear. “I dreamt up Top Gear,” he laments (BT), “I invented Stig…I nurtured it.” Watching the show get pried from his hands tore him up inside. “It’s a bit like when somebody has to give up a baby; they don’t go around and peer through the windows of its new home.”
Jeremy has a ferocious appetite; globetrotting at a breakneck pace to film the next Top Gear installment will do that to a stomach. You’ll even see him (during the show) solicit whole heads of cabbage off vendors at farmer’s markets, so he can ravage the cabbage like a feral coyote.
And what is it we see Clarkson doing every six miles when his EV McLaren’s batteries run dry? He plugs it in with a few extension cords and walks into the nearest restaurant so he can treat himself to a chocolate shoe. This is not the first time production has had to stop because he was hungry, however.
Everybody knows you don’t mess with a hungry Jeremy; a hungry Jeremy is an angry Jeremy; and an angry, hungry Jeremy is a hangry Jeremy! It’s almost as if the production parodies this fact in their skits by allowing him to eat all over the show as they tour strange places. But keeping Jeremy topped off with food is always a good idea.
It would only be a matter of time before his explosive appetite and a demanding production schedule would come to a point that would alter the shape of his career (and by consequence, the shape of television) forever.
Taking into consideration everything you just learned about the profound effect his stomach has on his mood for the day, does it come as any surprise that a “dust-up” occurred over catering arrangements? It was the dust-up of all dust-ups, and it all boiled down to the food—or lack thereof.
After filming, there was no food; a situation he blamed on his producer, who would end up getting hit in the face over it. It was the catalyst that would begin the chain-reaction of events that led to his removal from the production. You technically say that the Top Gear empire—as formidable as it ever was—came to a crumble over catering arrangements and Clarkson’s empty tummy.
The final Top Gear episode with the original crew (Clarkson, May, and Hammond) sucked in almost six million viewers. Clarkson had successfully built a brand with the BBC that nobody gave him enough credit for.
Upon his dismissal from the show, Hammond and May would both follow his lead (without the 'dust-up' part, of course) and the show would reboot with Evans and LeBlanc; a pair that only drew 4.4 million viewers, which amounted to the lowest ratings in a decade (Variety). The seventh season’s ratings would eventually drop below 2 million. Without Clarkson, there just wasn’t a very good Top Gear.
Clarkson made Top Gear what it was and everybody soon saw that the show couldn’t survive on its own. Hammond and May both knew they couldn’t hold together without him (and so did everybody else, let’s be honest here). They would follow Clarkson to a new venture. It was a different platform but the format remained relatively similar: three guys and some cars.
It soon became evident, however, that the producers were wary of straying very far from a proven formula. Some people loved it, while others attributed it to something along the lines of “three old men…mucking about” (My Car Heaven).
Jeremy likes to have a lot of things handed to him but he’s earned most of it. Although he would probably benefit from a more diplomatic approach to the internal “hunger games” he faces every day, would it be so unreasonable that you bring your cash-cow blockbuster host a tray of macaroni and cheese after filming?
Although he does like his food delivered to him, one thing he’ll always be doing on his own is driving. He hates autonomous cars and even claims one almost snuffed him out—twice within the span of an hour! For legal reasons, he doesn’t like to say which one, so we’re guessing it’s a Tesla; they’re the only ones who cry wolf when somebody picks on their cars.
On at least two different occasions, people have been unintentionally stiffed by the former Top Gear host. It wasn’t Jeremy’s doing, he just did his job. One man would find out just how hard Top Gear really is on the cars when he bought an old M3 that was apparently used for filming. After driving the car for a month (with multiple problems starting to emerge), the new buyer would eventually wise up after seeing his new car being thrashed on the show.
The dealership eventually fixed his car, but that’s not the first time a Jeremy burnout has slipped back into the hands of consumers in a lesser condition than it had started in. (Would we even watch the show if they drove cars nicely?)
He loves it very much, as a matter of fact, which comes as somewhat of a surprise. It was while traveling through France during Top Gear filming that he’d end up getting a ticket for exceeding the speed limit (by what would equate to be about 8 miles per hour).
Any car guy should, at the bare-minimum, detest any place that would work so hard to limit the speed of our life with an 8-mph speed trap; nonetheless, he loves France dearly. We don’t disagree because France is gorgeous. But for a man like Clarkson to not hate something is almost a real miracle.
He might seem like an emotional stone, only occasionally smiling at things like supercars (and ratty Fiats) but if you dig deep enough, you may just find that there is a soft spot inside him, somewhere. This contrasts everything Clarkson is all about, for he believes that “grown men don’t cry.”
But he did admit to getting soggy over a family pet when it’s was time for the long walk. Crying over a pet is okay, though; it’s like saying goodbye to a member of the family. But what about crying when you finish an endurance race in 39th? Is it okay to cry then?
Sources: The Moscow Times, The Kansas City Star, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, and Variety