Entertainment & Arts

Jeremy Clarkson: 'Top Gear exit was my own silly fault'

Jeremy Clarkson and Chris Evans
Image caption Clarkson was speaking to Chris Evans, who has been tipped to replace him on Top Gear

Jeremy Clarkson has said being dropped from Top Gear "was my own silly fault".

The broadcaster was speaking to BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans in his first interview since losing his job over a "fracas" with a producer.

He said leaving the show had "left a huge hole" in his life "that needs to be filled".

Clarkson admitted he had taken phone calls from broadcasters who wanted to poach the Top Gear team but said: "I'd be a fool to jump into something."

"I have been at the BBC for 27 years. When you emerge after 27 years, you find the world is changed.

"When you learn how the world works, you can start to work out what to do," he continued.

"In the meantime I'm getting really good at tennis. My forehand has improved immeasurably."

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Media captionJeremy Clarkson on life after Top Gear

Later on Thursday, Clarkson will launch what he called a "badly organised world tour" with his former co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May in Belfast.

He said the production was Top Gear in all but name - but the team were now "able to make their own films" for the big screens "without any meddling" from the BBC.

"It's broadly the same thing it's been for the last 10 years," he added.

Petition

Clarkson was suspended, then dropped, by the BBC in March following a "fracas" with a producer at a hotel.

Producer Oisin Tymon suffered swelling and a split lip in the assault by Clarkson on 4 March and visited a hospital A&E department for his injuries.

Following an internal investigation, the BBC announced on 25 March Clarkson's contract on Top Gear would not be renewed.

Image caption Clarkson was appearing on the show to launch the Ten Go Mad in Monaco charity race

At the time, a BBC spokesman said: "Jeremy's contract has not been renewed on Top Gear but he isn't banned from appearing on the BBC."

More than a million fans signed a petition to reinstate the presenter, but BBC director general Tony Hall said "a line has been crossed" and "there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another".

'Very sad'

Top Gear is watched by some 350 million viewers worldwide and is one of the BBC's biggest properties, with overseas sales worth an estimated £50m a year.

Speaking to Chris Evans, Clarkson said the show was "very much my baby, I absolutely adored it. I worked all through the night and paid attention to every tiny bit.

"And then suddenly you are not asked to do that any more... I was very sad."

But the presenter said he did not harbour any resentment towards the BBC.

"There are some dreadful people in it," he said, "but there are also some really talented, brilliant people. I will never complain about it."

The BBC plans to relaunch Top Gear with new presenters. Evans, a noted car enthusiast, had been linked to the reboot but has ruled himself out.

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