Has Danny Cohen finally got his man? BBC television chief Cohen appears determined to go down in history as The Man Who Sacked Jeremy Clarkson.
If he succeeds he’ll be the toast of fashionable Shoreditch salons, a folk hero to the Guardianistas and all those who despise Top Gear for being too white, too male and, frankly, too damned British.
The Lilliputian Lefties who infest the BBC see Clarkson as an embarrassment — a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic caveman, who shouldn’t be given house room by a publicly funded broadcaster.
Certainly, Cohen has made no secret of his contempt for Clarkson and this week seized his chance to suspend him over a ‘fracas’ on location, during which the presenter is alleged to have punched producer Oisin Tymon.
Cohen has also pulled the remaining three episodes of the programme while an ‘investigation’ is carried out by the BBC’s human resources department.
What’s to investigate? My understanding is that the facts are not in dispute and Tymon hasn’t made an official complaint. Clarkson denies punching him, but admits there was ‘contact’ and has apologised profusely.
The incident inevitably came to Cohen’s attention, presenting him with an irresistible opportunity to dispose of his bête noire once and for all.
Clarkson was already on a ‘final warning’ following a series of so-called ‘gaffes’, most of them confected.
He was forced by Cohen to make a grovelling public apology after being accused of using the N-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny Meeny Miny Moe to compare two indistinguishable cars.
At best the “offending” clip was inconclusive. Halfway through the second line, he deliberately avoids dropping the N-bomb. More to the point, on Clarkson’s own instructions, it was never broadcast — precisely to avoid another bout of artificial outrage.
That didn’t stop someone at the BBC retrieving the footage from the cutting room floor and passing it to the Daily Mirror in an attempt to discredit him.
Instead of supporting Clarkson, Cohen deliberately humiliated him.
When the rest of the Top Gear presenters jumped ship to Channel 5 fifteen years ago, Clarkson stayed put. His main concern was securing for his producer and old schoolfriend Andy Wilman a proper salary and a piece of the action.
Together, they reinvented the format, turning the show into a global phenomenon bringing in around £50 million a year for the BBC.
And make no mistake, this is Clarkson and Wilman’s triumph. BBC executives simply bask in the reflected glory. So you’d expect the show and its star presenter to be handled with more respect.
Clarkson is fiercely loyal to his Top Gear team, who travel the world together. The reason he complied with Cohen’s order to apologise over the ridiculous N-word furore was because he felt an obligation towards his staff to keep the show going and them in work.
So it’s no surprise that he was appalled at the lack of backing from Cohen when the Top Gear crew were viciously attacked in Argentina recently and had to flee for their lives.
The only thing that seemed to bother the BBC bigwigs was whether Clarkson had set out to provoke the Argentinians by driving a car with a number-plate intended deliberately to remind them of Britain’s victory in the Falklands War.
Funny how the Lefties at the BBC were quick to proclaim ‘Je Suis Charlie’ after a French magazine offended Muslims, but never declare themselves ‘Je Suis Jeremy’ whenever he upsets someone.
Cohen’s decision to pull the remaining Top Gear episodes will mean wasting hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of pounds of licence-payers’ money already spent on filmed sequences. It will also incur massive compensation claims from foreign broadcasters.
He couldn’t get away with that if he was a director of a commercial organisation, answerable to shareholders. And what about the millions of viewers being deprived of their favourite Sunday night show?
Cohen cares more about pandering to the political prejudices and petty jealousies of his Left-wing peer group in those Shoreditch salons. And that means securing his place in history as The Man Who Sacked Jeremy Clarkson.
By Richard Littlejohn