March 25

Jeremy #Clarkson sacked: The BBC’s statement and investigation in full

BBC Director-General’s statement regarding Jeremy Clarkson

Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, has today released the following statement regarding Jeremy Clarkson:

It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.

I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4th March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.

I want to make three points.

First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.

Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.

Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.

The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.

ENDS

Here are the finding of the investigation by Ken MacQuarrie

Investigation findings – Ken MacQuarrie

On 9 March 2015, Jeremy Clarkson reported to BBC management that he had been involved in a physical and verbal incident with Oisin Tymon, the producer of Top Gear, at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, North Yorkshire, whilst working on location. The incident had occurred on 4 March 2015 and Jeremy Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, pending investigation.

I was asked to undertake an investigation to establish the facts of what occurred. In conducting my investigation, in line with the BBC’s usual practice, I interviewed a number of witnesses and others connected with the incident. Accounts were agreed, based on my interviews, with each participant.

Having conducted these interviews and considered the evidence presented, I conclude the following:

on 4 March 2015 Oisin Tymon was subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson. During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently.

Specific facts I have found as part of my investigation are as follows:

 earlier on 4 March, studio recording of Top Gear had taken place in Surrey and the presenters had travelled that same evening to the location shoot in North Yorkshire;

 the incident occurred on a patio area of the Simonstone Hall Hotel, where Oisin Tymon was working on location for Top Gear;

 the physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness;

 it is the case that Oisin Tymon offered no retaliation;

 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 abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom;

 derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by Jeremy Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a
sustained period of time;

 it is clear that Oisin Tymon was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job;

 following the attack, I understand that Oisin Tymon drove to a nearby A&E department for examination;

 over the subsequent days, Jeremy Clarkson made a number of attempts to apologise to Oisin Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and

 it is the case that Jeremy Clarkson reported the incident to BBC management.

It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear to me that Oisin Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own.

September 19

Ten thoughts about the Scottish independence referendum result

Ten thoughts about the Scottish independence referendum result:

1) I’m glad we’re still a United Kingdom.

2) The real victor is democracy – up to 90% of people voting – WOW! Usual election turnout rates in the UK are a disgrace.

3) It is outrageous that Scottish MPs can vote on laws which only affect England – and this must change.

4) The disgraceful situation where Scottish students and those from France, Germany and the rest of the UK get free university tuition fees but English, Welsh and Northern Irish student have to PAY THOUSANDS is a disgusting state of affairs and must be changed. Ditto free prescriptions in Scotland but not in England.

5) Alistair Darling – proof that quiet and good mannered people can triumph over noisy clichéd rhetoric.

6) Most Scots voted with their heads rather than their hearts.

7) As I’ve said for a long time, history will be kinder on Gordon Brown – a essentially decent man – than it will on Blair. And wow, what a speech.

8) I never want to hear the phrase “devo max” ever again. (I’d also be quite pleased to not see Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon on TV for a good while…)

9) I haven’t been to Scotland for a while – it’s about time I went there again.

10) Above all, we are better together.

April 30

My tribute to the late, great Bob Hoskins

Really sad news today about Bob Hoskins, who has died at the age of 71.

I was privileged to have interviewed Bob a number times over the years and, in addition to being a very fine actor, I always found him to be very straightforward – and good fun.

With his shiny bald pate, lived-in face and gruff cockney accent, Bob certainly had the credentials to play tough guys – and he was cast as a hard-nut plenty of times. But away from the cameras I always found him to be genial and friendly. There were no airs and graces with Bob. He was always been a breath of fresh air in that he always said what he actually thought, which isn’t always the case with actors.

BobI first met him in 2001 when he starred in a BBC drama called The Lost World, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book. Filmed in New Zealand, it was the first TV major drama to blend the computer generated dinosaurs from the BBC’s then recent hit Walking With Dinosaurs, with live action acting. Bob played scientist Professor Challenger and the cast also included James Fox, Elaine Cassidy, Matthew Rhys – plus Columbo actor Peter Falk.

The show was the highlight of the BBC’s Christmas schedules and cost a small fortunate to film. Locations all over New Zealand were used – and the large film unit became a bit like a travelling circus. I was out there to cover the drama for a bunch of magazines and to write the BBC’s press kit – and it was just one of the most remarkable filming location trips I’ve been on. When the unit arrived in a small town, there was rarely enough space to accommodate everyone – and we often found ourselves staying in a rough and ready backpackers dorms and even private homes. I didn’t care – I just felt lucky to be there. There was a relaxed atmosphere on set (where the picture of Bob and I here was taken) perhaps because, despite the pressure of filming, everyone realised that spending two months working in one of the world’s beautiful countries  was a quite a result  (sadly for me I was only there for about two weeks of that, but hey – I was still very fortunate!)

Bob and James Fox on set

The thing that struck me most about Bob Hoskins – other than him being steadfastly normal and down-to-earth despite all his Hollywood roles – was how devoted he was – and no doubt still was – to his family. He and his wife Linda’s daughter Rosa was doing her A Levels at the time and so they couldn’t come out for filming but Bob spoke to them on the phone every morning and evening. Even so, he admitted he had spells of homesickness.

He also did some of his own stunts.  New Zealand is well-known for its white water rapids and Bob had to film a scene for the opening few minutes of The Lost World where Challenger was  seen travelling through a raging torrent in a canoe – from which he is eventually thrown out.

Bob gets a piggy back onto a rather wobbly boat on the set of The Lost World

“Our director Stuart Orme said we could get a stuntman to film it but there was no way you could do it and make it look as if it was me as Challenger in the water without filming it from miles away,” he told me.  “So I said: ‘Sod it – I’ll do it!’ So we did it. I was in one boat and the camera crew and the stunt arranger were in a rubber dingy. We went over the rapids, fell out of the boat and I then swam to shore.  It was pretty hairy and the water was absolutely freezing cold but I’m not a bad swimmer and they had these guys in kayaks nearby and a couple of frogmen in the water in case I got into difficulty.”

Last time I interviewed Bob was five year’s ago when he was filming Jimmy McGovern’s drama The Street (for which he won a Best Actor Emmy) in Manchester. He was on very good form – and in addition to talking about the drama, we spoke about his early days as an actor – and some of the jobs he did when he didn’t have any acting work. He was always been a great story teller – and on this occasion told me about his attempt once to work as a plumber. “I tried to be plumber once,” he recalled. “The plumber was up the ladder and I was footing it and holding his blow torch. A girl I knew walked by and I was talking to her and accidently set fire to his boot. I gave up after that…”

A great actor and a wonderful character.

 

(c) Steve Clark 2014