Clarkson Suspended Over 'Punch' In Newcastle

11 March 2015, 09:45 | Updated: 11 March 2015, 10:03

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended after he allegedly punched a producer after filming in Newcastle.

BBC News also reported that it ``understood'' the final three episodes of the series would not be broadcast in the wake of what the corporation has officially described as a ``fracas'' between the pair.

This is despite an online petition calling for the 54-year-old's reinstatement soared past 130,000 signatures.

The producer involved in the alleged bust-up, said to have taken place after filming in Newcastle and over a lack of catering, has been named by the Daily Mirror as Oisin Tymon, 36.

The presenter has lurched from controversy to controversy in recent months - offending foreign diplomats, viewers, MPs and his own bosses at the BBC.

Clarkson's first public response to his suspension was a tweet issuing a mock apology to Ed Miliband, whose wife Justine gave an interview to the BBC.

He said:
``Sorry Ed. It seems I knocked your 'I'm a human' piece down the news agenda.''

A BBC spokeswoman said:
``Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation."

``No-one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.''

The Mirror reported the ``fracas'' was over a lack of catering, with the paper quoting a source as saying:
``They came to the end of filming after a long day and Jeremy discovered that no food had been laid on.''

The presenter then ``snapped'', the source added.

But according to the Sun newspaper, Clarkson, who is a columnist for the paper, said:
``I'm having a nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over.''  

A source told the paper:
``He didn't punch anyone.''

Spirits did not seem to be too downtrodden in the Clarkson camp, as the presenter's daughter Em Clarkson tweeted:
``Oh God, BBC please take him back... He's started cooking...''

This Sunday's episode was set to feature Clarkson with co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May getting to grips with classic cars such as a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 cabriolet.

They were set to take to the road and end up at a classic track day, while Gary Lineker was due to be the ``star in a reasonably priced car''.

Clarkson was put on what was called his final warning last year following a racism row after claims he used the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe during filming of the BBC2 programme.

Clarkson's had initially failed to acknowledge news of his suspension, instead joking with colleagues Richard Hammond and James May on Twitter about what should be done with now-empty slot on the BBC's schedule this Sunday.

May tweeted to his co-stars:
``No Top Gear this weekend, apparently. How about 633 Squadron instead?''

To which Hammond replied:
``No, surely, Last of the Summer Wine; no-one will notice the difference. Job done.''

And Clarkson added:
``I did some pretty good war documentaries. They could screen one of those.''

Fans also started a campaign on the social media site using the hashtag BringBackClarkson, with a petition started by political website Guido Fawkes that neared its intended target of 150,000 signatures overnight.

In response, May tweeted:
``Save Clarkson? Save empty cardboard boxes and off-cuts of string. They're far more useful.''

In recent years Clarkson has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code by watchdog Ofcom after comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces. And he faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after branding people who throw themselves under trains as ''selfish''.

He was also forced to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot, but it is the claims of racism that have really damaged his standing with the corporation.

Top Gear is one of the BBC's biggest money spinners, pulling in millions of pounds from a devoted - and international - audience.

Its latest series was given a global launch with a simultaneous broadcast in more than 50 countries.

Its success - and Clarkson's vital part in it - saw BBC TV boss Danny Cohen compare him to a top-flight footballer, telling reporters last year that ``no-one is bigger than the club''.

Last year, the show was censured by communication regulator Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a ``racial'' term during the programme's Burma special, which had aired in March 2014.

The year ended with the motoring show's crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.

But each episode in the two-part Christmas special attracted more than seven million viewers last year, with a further three million for each episode on iPlayer.