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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Top Gun

I feel for Tony Hall the BBC's Director General. I really do.

You've the licence renewal coming up. You've  politicians who, as a class, have little patience with the Beeb and your star performer goes and does it again: except this time it's not a humorous bit of banter. It's full verbals and a knuckle sandwich.

What do you do? A million petrolheads sign a petition calling for a full pardon. The Sun, who hates the Beeb with ferocity that Medea would die for, is jumping all over the Corporation. No doubt eminent dons at Oxbridge are working up their thesis on "Clarkson: the flawed hero - much loved but hated in equal measure". But apparently Jeremy threw a tsunami of a wobbly because his steak and chips weren't ready and lashed out, verbally and physically, at one of the production team on "Top Gear".

I'm really not hugely concerned one way or the other. I think "Top Gear" is a great show and it is Clarkson that makes it so. I'm not sure if his many mis speaks reflect his real views or are just part of his TV persona. I have to say that I rather like them.

The contrast between the grey suited DG, with his corporate mindset and Clarkson's show ground personality couldn't be greater. It's ironic that Cameron, a silky suited salamander if ever there was one, was bang on side with Clarkson. But then Cameron is a calculating, principle less, numpty and he knows most of the million signatories are either Tory or UKIP drones.

TV is boring enough. "Top Gear" may be formulaic: but when J builds up a head of steam it's sheer joy. He is "Top Gear". The Beeb's TV lines are drawn: "The Voice", "EastEnders" "Dr Finlay's Casebook", all the cooking, knitting, gardening, antique bilge that we get shoved up our arses. Then there's "Top Gear" and....."The News Quiz".

Clarkson's sacking might not have happened if the Beeb or Jeremy hadn't been so greedy. Had the Beeb not bought out Clarkson's company and took him on as an employee, we could have avoided all this heart ache. J. could have sacked himself, agreed to 200 hours community service and the Beeb could have come up with some form of weasel words which would have got them off the hook.

The thing is: big beasts, in whatever field, are not always as white as driven snow. What makes them watchable also makes them edgy, dangerous.

In an earlier time, although not in Lord Reith's hegemony, Clarkson's behaviour would have been dealt with differently. If this had happened in the early 60's  Peter Cook or David Frost would have satirised the whole thing so that we'd have laughed it off as one rather fat, red faced, ill dressed buffoon in a  late mid life crisis, getting his comeuppance. If he'd slept with Christine Keller that might have had the broadsheets pronouncing. But not a little artistic tantrum. I suspect Sir Larry and Sir John may well have had similar paddies.

It's a shame he's been sacked. I'd have yelled with delight if Tony Hall had, instead of dressing in corporate grey, worn a clown's suit and said:

 "You know, I don't care a toss. JC is a treasure, more than that he's a bloody gold mine. He may piss off a few Mexicans, Argies and MumsNet, but 350 million people watch the old fart and love him. I've called him in: shouted at him for 20 minutes, slapped him across the face and told him to go and make the next series. And next time, let's do something that really pisses off all the Grundian readers." 


Steve said...

Totally agree. Personalities and politicians these days are studiously banal. It's refreshing to have someone with rough edges, who gets into trouble occasionally for just "being" and is, I feel, essentially honest about what type of person they are. What I like about JC is that he doesn't actually expect to get away with it when he steps out of line. He does take it on the chin. I really don't care if other people do or don't like him. I'm with James May [who said] "the man is a cock - but for some reason I quite like him".

Anonymous said...

So its OK for big ego stars to have a hissy fit and punch somebody? Its a sackable offence in any self respecting organisation. Why not at the BBC?

Barry Coidan said...

Yes, he may be a cock: but not a sticky straight in your face type. More a limp, wobbly one surrounded by greying pubs.

Barry Coidan said...

Yes, I think in this case it's o.k.

Mr and Mrs said...

My husband doesn't drive so doesn't watch Top Gear. I am told it is a good programme. I think Tom Cruise is also in it.

Jack the Hat said...

Punch ups were commonplace when I was working. You had to be able to stand up for yourself. Too many nancy boys at the BBC these days.

Barry Coidan said...

JC was good in "mission impossible"

Barry Coidan said...

Not like in the days of "Rag, Tag and Bobtail". Men were men then. You just had to look at Mr Pastry and The Wooden Tops to see how far we've fallen. Bring back Mrs Dales and Dixon of Dock Green.