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Clarkson suspended following 'fracas' with producer

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson

The BBC has suspended Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson "following a fracas" with a producer.

The presenter has lurched from controversy to controversy in recent months - offending foreign diplomats, viewers, MPs and his own bosses at the BBC.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation.

"No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time."

This Sunday's episode was set to feature Clarkson with co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May getting to grips with classic cars such as a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 Cabriolet.

They were set to take to the road and end up at a classic track day, while Gary Lineker was the "star in a reasonably priced car".

Clarkson was put on what was called his final warning last year following a racism row after claims he used the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe during filming of the BBC2 programme.

In recent years he has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code by watchdog Ofcom after comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces and faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after branding people who throw themselves under trains as ''selfish''.

He was also forced to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot, but it is the claims of racism that have really damaged his standing with the corporation.

Top Gear is one of the BBC's biggest moneyspinners - pulling in millions of pounds from an devoted - and international - audience.

Its latest series was given a global launch with a simultaneous broadcast in more than 50 countries.

Its success - and Clarkson's vital part in it - saw BBC TV boss Danny Cohen compare him to a top-flight footballer, telling reporters last year that "no-one is bigger than the club".

Last year, t he show was censored by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a "racial" term during the programme's Burma special, which had aired in March 2014.

The year ended with the motoring show's crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.

But each episode in the two-part Christmas special attracted more than seven million viewers last year, with a further three million for each episode on iPlayer.

Top Gear's executive producer Andy Wilman described last year as "an annus horribilis" for the show after the claims of racism and the near-riot in Argentina.

Clarkson has so far remained silent about the suspension on his Twitter feed.

His last tweets were on Sunday, when he wrote: "It's an old skool Top Gear tonight. Nobody falls over and no-one is fired by cannon into a hospital. I'd watch something else frankly."

He added: "God. Crufts is good."

It is difficult to find exact figures but it is safe to say t he show has made Clarkson and Wilman multi-millionaires.

The 2012 annual report and accounts of BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm - show it got a dividend of £4.5 million in 2012 from a company called Bedder 6.

The company, which is registered at the west London base of BBC Worldwide, was set up by Clarkson and Wilman.

The BBC owns 50% with Clarkson reported to own around 30% which would mean his dividend would have been around £2.7 million in that year on top of a hefty BBC salary.