Electric Cars Outlive Dinosaur Clarkson at BBC Top Gear, Electric Car Owners Rejoice

They’ve been enemies for about as long as we can remember, caught in a never-ending fight to the death for supremacy in the automotive world.

But after years of ridiculing electric cars and green car technology, BBC’s Top Gear show — or rather its current incarnation with outspoken, gas-loving, oafish, middle-aged, greying front man Jeremy Clarkson — are no more.

Jeremy Clarkson is no-longer employed by BBC Top Gear (Photo: Flickr user Tony Harrison,  CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jeremy Clarkson is no-longer employed by BBC Top Gear (Photo: Flickr user Tony Harrison, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Which means that while the electric car may very well have been the underdog for nearly a decade, the victim of countless poorly-conceived stunts aimed at entertaining millions of viewers around the world, it has survived the age of the slowly-balding dinosaur.

Or rather, Clarkson is no more at Top Gear, after a fight with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon last month over catering on set– a fight which landed Tymon in hospital with a bleeding lip and swelling to his face —  saw him and the show receive an immediate suspension from the air, pending investigation.

Earlier today, that investigation and its conclusions saw Clarkson removed from the show permanently, a decision announced by BBC’s Director General, Tony Hall.

In an official statement made to the press, Mr. Hall said that the decision to sack Clarkson had not been taken lightly, but that “a line has been crossed [and I] cannot condone what has happened on this occasion.”

There's no word if the show will continue without Clarkson.

There’s no word if the show will continue without Clarkson.

Clarkson, who during the past decade has become known for making politically-incorrect gaffe after politically-incorrect gaffe as much as his skills in front of the camera, has offended pretty much every minority thinkable.

In 2008, he joked about how truck drivers ‘murder prostitutes,’ referring to convicted truck driver and killer Steve Wright. A few months later, he was caught dismissing the then UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”.

A few months later during a regular rant against politically-correct language, Clarkson moaned that the BBC was obsessed with hiring black, Muslim lesbians to ensure its cultural diversity.

Further gaffes and incidents have occurred in recent years, including an attempt to provoke an attack on camera in Alabama during a Top Gear U.S. special, in which Clarkson and fellow producers James May and Richard Hammond raced through the ultra-conservative deep south with pro-homosexual and other provocative slogans spray-painted on their vehicles.

In 2011, Clarkson even managed to spark a diplomatic incident in Mexico following a Mexican Top Gear special, something he repeated the following year in an Indian special. In a never-ending downward-spiral, Clarkson than landed himself in more trouble by using the ‘N-word’ during a not-to-be-aired alternative take of a segment, referring to a person of asian descent with racist slang, and then drove a car through the Falklands wearing a license plate which seemingly referred to the 1982 Falklands War.

For electric car owners however, Clarkson’s myriad of staged assassination attempts at plug-in vehicles will be the thing for which he is most remembered.

Jeremy Clarkson has always  preferred gas-guzzling.

Jeremy Clarkson has always preferred gas-guzzling.

First, back in the deep dark past of BBC Top Gear’s history, we had the continued humiliation of the G-Wiz electric quadricycle, an Indian-made low-speed electric vehicle imported to London in large numbers to take advantage of its congestion-charge exemption for plug-in vehicles.

The car — which was blown up, smashed in two, and even lost a race to a table — soon became the show’s whipping boy for all things eco, leaving it a regular bit part in the show.

Then there was the much-publicised review of the Tesla Roadster, in which the BBC Top Gear production team claimed the Tesla Roadster had run out of charge on its test track in far less time than the official 245-mile range would suggest. While Top Gear and Clarkson initially maintained the Roadster had run flat, a leaked copy of the show script resulted in Tesla taking the BBC to court for libel. Sadly, the Californian automaker didn’t win.

Tesla Motors took the BBC to court over a Top Gear Episode where they faked a Roadster running out of charge.

Tesla Motors took the BBC to court over a Top Gear Episode where they faked a Roadster running out of charge.

In one 2009 episode, Clarkson, May and Hammond took the chance to paint electric cars as slow and boring yet again in a challenge in which they built the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, a poorly-built, underpowered electric monstrosity built on the chassis of a TVR Chimera. Despite a tongue-in-cheek review from UK motoring magazine Autocar of the said vehicle, fans of plug-in vehicles weren’t happy.

By 2011, when cars like the Nissan LEAF had started to hit the UK market, many hoped that Top Gear would have changed its tune a little. But when the BBC was spotted in the rural city of Lincoln with a duo of electric cars — one of which appeared to be flat — we knew something was awry.

Yet again, electric cars had been used as the comedy element for the popular show — with the Nissan LEAF purposely ran flat by Top Gear to stage the infamous turtle mode and flat battery pack.

Since then, things have improved a little. One of the BBC Top Gear trio (James May) has even admitted to buying a BMW i3 REx since he likes the fun of driving electric.

For plug-in fans, the tide seemed to be turning on Top Gear. Clarkson even managed a generally positive review a few weeks back on the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, picking it to drive home at the end of the day over a conventional gasoline sports car.

But with Clarkson gone and the show’s future uncertain, we’ll never know if the transformation to plug-in owner would ever have happened.

What we do note, with a little smug self-assuredness, is that Clarkson’s Top Gear, like the fossils which power most of his favourite cars, is no more.

And that, in our book, is something of a little poetic justice, even if we’ll guiltily admit to enjoying the irrelevant schoolboy antics as much as the next person.

Are you happy to see Top Gear go? Are you happy to see Jeremy Clarkson leave the show? And if it continues, who would you get to fill his shoes?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Michael Thwaite

    He used to be funny but ever since I learnt that the shows and outcomes were scripted, it lost its luster for me. I also tend to feel duped that the races I thought were so close were in fact just staged.nnnI’m thankful that the beeb didn’t re-instate him, assuming the rumors of his actions were true but, you know, time for something new.

    • CDspeed

      It still would have been nice if they had retired their era of Top Gear with a proper send off. For the fans at least.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    I like the “Ambitious But Rubbish” shows. nWhy doesn’t someone ask Jay Leno to fill in for Jeremy Clarkson.

  • MEroller

    Robert Llewellyn would be the perfect replacement 🙂

    • SaturnV

      That would be awesome!

    • YES!! Who will create the letter writing campaign / online poll to ensure the BBC consider the great RobL for Top [email protected], please get to it!

  • CDspeed

    Though I didn’t like some of his segements on electric cars, especially the Tesla Roadster one. I am still a big Top Gear fan, and a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson and his brand of humor. Yes his humor is the opposite of political correctness, but that’s the style he uses. He isn’t the first with what I call foot in mouth humor, Joan Rivers for example had a very similar style. Part of what Clarkson does is so funny because it is absurd, and antiquated. It’s almost road rage humor, sometimes he sounds like he’s turned the rude things you say when your alone in your car into a comedy act, the key word being act. I’d also like to point out two of his positive electric car moments. The first being his test with James May of the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot ion. In it he does admit to being a dinosaur, and that if you do drive a car like the Leaf, you are more likely to get a girlfriend, as he put it. And his test of the Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive, he was very impressed, he did try to hide it by saying a few misleading bits of information. But he did end it by saying that the SLS Electric Drive does show us that when all the oil runs out, the speed machines will live on. Or in other words don’t fear the electric car, it doesn’t mean the end of high performance cars, or at least that’s the way I interpreted it. And I guess that’s what it comes down to, interpretation, the people who took offense didn’t get most of it, and let the rest go as absurdity.

  • BEP

    Maybe you missed Richard Hammond’s review of the Model S which appeared on the Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/motoring/car-reviews/tesla-model-s-luxury-electric-3840012.nn“Expect over the next few years for Teslas to be a common sight on the road. Maybe even on the Hammond driveway.”nnAnd there is also a comparison of the Model S with the Maserati Ghibli which was published on the Top Gear Magazine and online at http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/Maserati-Ghibli-takes-on-Model-S-2014-04-03.

  • D. Harrower

    Of all the myriad examples, the only one that truly bothered me was the Roadster incident, where they seem to have went out of their way to discredit it and then-fledgling automaker Tesla, who likely lost more than a few sales to the negative press. This was also done during the review section of the show, which I always took the be the only honest portion.nnOther stunts, like those above with the G-Wiz and Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, were clearly tongue-in-cheek. More akin to their recurring skit of dropping a piano on a Morris Marina than Roadstergate. I’d argue the G-Wiz segment was more a dig at small, slow cars than it was at EVs….and it actually turned out well for the G-Wiz, which won the race after they suped it up a bit.nnOn the whole, I quite enjoyed Top Gear and am sorry to see it go under these circumstances.

  • Dear BBCnnSimply recast the show with David Tennant, Matt Smith and Billie Piper and in a year’s time it will be “Jeremy who?”

  • CDspeed

    You know who would be a spectacular replacement, Rowan Atkinson, he would be hilarious.

  • Guest
  • https://twitter.com/bobbyllewnnnnBobby Lew for the win.nWe’d like to see him on BBC TG

  • vdiv

    Well, at least we know how Nikki feels about it.

  • Andy red fox smith

    Myself like others took most of the tongue in cheek action for what it was. Yeah the format was tired and I agree tesla were stitched up, but the one thing that actually “offended” me was the slope remark…any other racial term would have not been accepted. There seems to be this unwritten rule that East Asian racism is ok.. Adding to all that, I was a fan of clarkson and the show before and after the 02 revamp, and there is a little bit of a bitter sweet ending…who knows, we may unleash an even more annoying clarkson on Netflix or wherever

  • BenBrownEA

    I wonder, by looking at my own life, if I had any role in creating the monster that was and preventing the human that could have been… From the power of the fossil fuel industry to my own relatives, I’ve too often reinforced bad behavior by investing in it, giving it credence… People (and corporations) can be bad on their own, sure enough, but I would be lying if I said I had no part whatsoever in it. His sacking potentially might be something that may help him find his human self.