Former BBC Chief Says Firing Clarkson Was A Big Mistake


Well, it's too late to bring him back now.

The revamped Top Gear was a ratings disaster. Its lead host, Chris Evans, has already left the show and we're still waiting to hear details about Top Gear's future. Meanwhile, former hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are gearing up for the premiere of their new Amazon series, The Grand Tour. Wonder if any BBC executives will tune in for that. But now the former director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, told The Sunday Times that, despite his "deeply objectionable character," the decision to fire Clarkson was a mistake.

"Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend," Thompson continued. "I don't think people should punch their colleagues. It's hard to keep them if they do. But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose. He spoke to people who didn't find much else in the BBC." Thompson himself left the network in 2012 after eight years at the helm to become chief executive at The New York Times. But he's still a Top Gear fan and described Matt LeBlanc's performance last season as "promising." As for Evans? He's a "great broadcaster" but he "couldn't work out why he didn't impersonate Chris Evans, rather than Jeremy Clarkson."

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