The BBC is expected to pull the rest of the current Top Gear season after host Jeremy Clarkson (pictured) was suspended for allegedly punching a producer, according to British media reports.
On Tuesday (March 10) the UK pubcaster announced that Clarkson was suspended “following a fracas” and that this Sunday’s episode was being pulled.
“Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation,” the BBC said in the statement. “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.”
“The incident is believed to have happened last week, but was reported to the BBC on Monday and dealt with on Tuesday,” she said.
BBC News also reported that the network will likely scrap the remaining two Top Gear episodes this season in addition to Sunday’s episode.
Clarkson has not commented directly on the situation but joked on Twitter with his Top Gear co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond about what the channel could show instead. According to The Sun newspaper, Clarkson said: “I’m having a nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over.” The Sun piece also quotes what it calls a “source close to the star” who denies that Clarkson punched anyone.
He also retweeted a follower, who wrote, “How can @BBC not show the remaining episodes of Top Gear, can’t this be resolved without making the fans suffer.”
In the wake of the controversy, a Change.org petition demanding the BBC “reinstate” Clarkson launched and the hashtag #BringBackClarkson began spreading on Twitter. The petition, entitled “BBC: Bring Back Clarkson,” had nearly 400,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
Last year, the BBC forced Clarkson to apologize and gave him a final warning after a video of him using a racial slur in a non-broadcast Top Gear outtake appeared online.
He has hosted Top Gear, one of the most-watched factual programs in the world, since 2002.