Unwanted Thoughts on Jeremy Clarkson

11 Mar

Let us push to one side for the moment ‘the punch’. That is not what I wish to discuss. If Clarkson has broken the law or the BBC rules I would like justice to take its course.

I want to address another issue which for me has a fundamental principle at stake. I tweeted this morning something along the lines that I would rather the oafish Clarkson on my TV than any number of anodyne alternatives. Inevitably people disagreed with me and I ended up deleting this tweet and the subsequent tweets not because I don’t stand by this view but because I tired of being lectured. The last straw was being told my stance was ‘not good enough’, as if I’m some sort of naughty, thoughtless child.

Now, I have to confess that I find Clarkson objectionable and offensive. I don’t watch Top Gear, apart from the occasional special when they drive across a country or something, because I like those. I accept that for many who tweeted me this morning he crosses a line. I know where my line is and he crosses it too. Yes, I think he’s a bad role model (although as I said this morning useful to point at to your children to say “don’t be like that awful man”). Nevertheless, my individual opinion on the man is neither here nor there. And I’m sorry, but your opinions on the man are neither here nor there either. Something much more important than our opinions is at stake.

What I DO NOT want is a BBC where only people who think like me are allowed to make programmes. Not only would this be desperately dull, it is patently absurd (“think like me”?) and ultimately dangerous. The idea that the BBC should only reflect some sort of consensus is rather terrifying. What happens if this only-permissible-bubble-of-consensus shifts in a direction that you or I don’t like, (in my case lurching off to a UKIPPY right)? It’s not inconceivable with our current political climate and the tenuous position of the BBC that this could happen. If the price for Adam Curtis making films is Jeremy Clarkson making TV (and I believe it is), then I am more than willing to pay the price of Clarkson being on the telly.

As far as the punch is concerned, if it had been someone I admire who’d done it (Evan Davies for example) I’m sure I’d feel more lenient about it. I also realise that, despite the fact I loathe him, Clarkson is highly paid because he is worth millions to the BBC. Losing him will cost, but if that’s what happens then so be it. He’s not irreplaceable.

Your opinions on this blog are unwelcome.


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