Love him or loathe him, and I lean more towards the latter, there’s no denying that Jeremy Clarkson draws a crowd.
It’s been years since he was booted from Top Gear, but that whole crew simply skipped across to Amazon and made The Grand Tour a rollicking success.
Of course that all came about because of the steak that broke the camel’s back, way back in March 2015 in what has come to be known as Steakgate.
Given that Clarkson will return to British telly for the first time since then in a new Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the Telegraph decided to revisit what led to Clarkson’s show being canned.
We’ll skip over the feud with Piers Morgan, because assholes cancel each other out, and jump right onto March 4, 2015, and Clarkson arriving at Simonstone Hall hotel in Yorkshire [pictured up top with Clarkson] after a long day of filming.
Popcorn at the ready:
After a long day of filming for Top Gear’s 22nd series, Clarkson had been drinking in a local pub with his co-hosts, Richard Hammond and James May.
When he returned to the hotel, he asked for a steak. It was late at night, and there was no steak to be had; the chef had packed up for the evening. According to one hotel guest, a Mrs Sue Ward from Leeds, the hungry star began hotly complaining that it was “ridiculous there was nothing to eat”.
In fact, there was plenty to eat. He was reportedly offered a platter of cold meats and cheeses, as well as soup. Sadly, no report of the incident has revealed the flavour of soup.
“Clarkson erupted when told there was only a cold platter,” another eyewitness said. “The general manager offered them everything. We were all thinking, ‘Meat platter and soup? Surely that’s food.'”
I feel the flavour of the soup is critical. If it was tomato soup, I would be outraged. Pea and ham, on the other hand, and Clarkson should have shut his trap.
How many drinks he had is also critical, and my guess is just enough to ignite the total prick fuse.
The victim of Clarkson’s ire was an embarrassed producer standing on the hotel patio: Oisin Tymon [below], then a 36-year-old rising talent at the BBC. It wasn’t just a brief outburst, but a sustained tirade. Clarkson hit Tymon, leaving the younger man – who did not retaliate – with a bleeding lip. An internal investigation into the “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” confirmed that “the verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him”.
The shocked producer drove himself to A&E. He thought he had been fired. But, as it turned out, the BBC were keen to keep him. “We believe Oisin has a very exciting future at the BBC,” a spokesman for the corporation would claim in February 2016, after the BBC had paid out a settlement for both injury and racial discrimination (Clarkson had reportedly called Tymon a “lazy Irish c–t”).
Clarkson contributed towards that payment, and was actually the first person to report the incident, although you can be sure it wasn’t out of noble intentions.
Turns out he wasn’t asking for a simple steak and chips, either, but was after something rather specific:
The phrase “simple steak and chips” was bending the truth a little. What Clarkson reportedly asked for was actually “an 8oz sirloin with fondant potatoes, pan-fried wild mushrooms, grilled cherry tomatoes and peppercorn sauce”. The hotel’s general manager, Robert Scott, had eventually prepared a £21.95 steak for the presenter in an attempt to calm him down.
Tymon, for his part in the matter, was on the receiving end of great vitriol, despite keeping a low profile:
…[Some] were firing off abusive tweets at Tymon. In the following weeks, one threatened to “beat him to a pulp”; another wrote “let’s hope he visits the morgue VERY soon”.
It’s just a show about cars, you nutcases. Get out the house a little more often.
It didn’t help that Clarkson’s back catalogue included these gems:
Clarkson also lost a great deal of sympathy when he appeared at an auction on March 19 and ran his mouth:
“I didn’t foresee my sacking, but I would like to do one last lap,” he said. “I’ll go down to Surrey and I’ll do one last lap of that track before the f—ing b—–ds sack me… I’ll drive somebody around in whatever I can get hold of, I’m sacked so it’s probably a Nissan Maestro.”
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that Clarkson has come out this one just fine.
And I’m gagging for a steak.
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