THE BLOG
25/03/2015 10:23 GMT | Updated 25/05/2015 06:59 BST

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson Sacked and the BBC Can Only Blame Itself

Last time I spoke out against Top Gear, I was bombarded by many of the show's devoted fans, accusing me of various sins including sexism, political correctness gone mad and, most damningly, not having a sense of humour.

So, this time, let me say from the off that, like many people and not just middle-aged men in jeans, I have laughed out loud at many of the capers undertaken by this superbly-teamed trio, and sat back and marvelled at the beautiful telly they have been part of. Particularly for me, the final scenes of their special trips to Vietnam and Bethlehem will stick long and happily in the mind. I have no idea what they were driving but, for a long time, Top Gear has been about so much more than cars. It's been superb entertainment, worth the licence fee alone, etc.

I hope my admiration and fondness is clear. I am as disappointed as anyone by the events of the past fortnight that make it impossible for Jeremy Clarkson to continue in the role. However, I have not added my name to the petition to keep him because...

You cannot go round hitting people because you don't get the steak you wanted. Sorry if that makes me sexist, PC or humourless! And if someone is on a final warning as was much trumpeted re Clarkson last year, then that's it. You can't get an even more yellow card than that. There is only red.

Of course, the cries of fury from the electorate (AND the elected, as it turns out. Mr Cameron SURELY has better things to do right now) have only added fuel to the fire, but even so - WHY did it take so long for the BBC to 'investigate' the 'fracas'? It's been a long 10 days since this story broke.

The answer is obviously NOT that they're running the whys and wherefores of what duty of care they owe each of the 'fracas' participants. That would have taken a quick 10 minutes. Instead, the time has obviously been spent furiously counting all the coins earned by Top Gear for the corporation with its global success, and how much of that is owed to its protagonist and tireless, charismatic frontman.

Whether by accident or design, Jeremy Clarkson has become to the BBC what cigarettes are to the NHS. Obviously, they should be banned by anybody following a wider health policy, but a) they're just too popular, there would be an outcry and b) the tax they raise brings in sufficient funds to significantly soften the burden on the rest of the NHS. If sums could speak, there should be a tiny local radio station with a plaque engraved "By Donation of Jeremy Clarkson's efforts" on it somewhere.

But, how has one programme, which ran for 25 years before he took the helm so spectacularly, been allowed to depend so mightily on one kingpin? Once again, the BBC has shown itself to be in surrendered thrall to its 'talent'. Has it learned nothing from the past? I will not make the mistake of comparing Clarkson's gaffes and mistakes to the evil crimes perpetrated by Savile - there is NO comparison - but there is a similarity to be found in the way the BBC tiptoed around many of its previous stars, keen not to rock the boat and - don't even say it - lose them to another channel.

I'm not talking about any individuals hauled up by Yewtree, I'm talking about a whole generation of presenters who could trade in their currency of popularity. Now, Clarkson has never claimed to be perfect, but he enjoys the same currency, plus that one that speaks even more loudly, hard cash.

There have been some monstrous egos in our culture - from Picasso to Pollock, Kubrick to von Karajan - and if Clarkson creates anything similar to 'Guernica' or The Shining, we can surely overlook a few things.

But, note to BBC execs, none of this current crop of 'stars' is curing cancer, rescuing children or running into fires. They're the court jesters of our era, brought by technology from the end of the pier into our homes, and I hope they generally bring themselves as much satisfaction as they bring us all the while. And that's it.

As lovable as he may be, there is another person - I'm not saying woman! - out there, who is, I'm convinced, as warm, witty and wise as Jeremy Clarkson, and can hopefully go a bit longer between helicopter and hotel without Charter-threatening repercussions. The BBC has to find this person and champion them.

What they can't do any more is raise them onto some sort of plinth, from where the Corporation can be held by one normal person to this kind of populist blackmail ever again. The dilemma was a simple one, it was the numbers that made it complicated, and Clarkson shouldn't be the only person today looking ahead with some life lessons hard learnt.