I can still remember my first time watching Top Gear. The amazing cars, the awesome cinematography, and the over the top hosts. One host specifically, was seemingly even more boisterous and over the top than the others. Of course, I mean none other than the now-legendary Jeremy Clarkson.
Most if not all fans most likely remember seeing Clarkson for the first time on Top Gear, but Jeremy has had a long and storied career. From reviewing cars before the industry really even existed for local newspapers, to the very first iteration of Top Gear, as well as a host of other television and print positions, there is a reason Clarkson is so good at what he does.
This isn’t to say that Clarkson hasn’t had his share of questionable, or even downright bad days, like anyone else, he certainly has had his fair share. In the end, though, none of that matters to us, his loyal fans, because what would Clarkson be if not so delightfully flawed?
In celebration of the upcoming Scotland Special of The Grand Tour, here are the best and worst moments of the man, the myth, the legend that is Jezza. Here are the best and worst moments of Jeremy Clarkson’s career.
The Premier of the Revamped Top Gear
Where would Clarkson be without his long stint on Top Gear? Surely becoming the lead presenter of the show as it re-premiered in 2002 was a huge moment. The original version of Top Gear premiered in 1977, and featured Clarkson later on in 1988, but was not an international sensation like its later version would be. Going back and watching the first episode is a must for true fans of the show and Clarkson. You can see Clarkson’s blossoming media personality, his unique style, and the seeds of the international superstar he would become being planted, ever so well.
The Amazon Deal & The Grand Tour
It would be impossible to say that after the incident with the BBC and being fired from Top Gear, that securing a major deal, worth a reported 12 million dollars a year, and costing nearly 6 million dollars to film per episode, isn’t one of Clarkson’s greatest accomplishments. In fact, the deal secured his position as Britain’s highest-paid TV star. Money aside, the amazing chance to produce a show like The Grand Tour, with almost complete freedom, no longer restricted by strict BBC standards and practices, must seem like a dream come true to Clarkson.
The most infamous of any recent controversy surrounding Clarkson, and more than likely the one most of you are familiar with. This even led to the demise of Top Gear as we knew and loved it. For those of you unfamiliar with the incident, after a long day of filming, an apparently very grumpy Clarkson found upon his arrival at their hotel that the producer had not secured any hot food for the stars. In retaliation, Clarkson hurled insults and punched the producer in the mouth.
Talk about hunger pains.
The Argentina Controversy
While later proved to be completely coincidental, despite what the country of Argentina may think, the controversy turned out to be one of Clarkson’s most dangerous. It all stemmed from a Porsche Jeremy was driving through an area of Argentina in which many of that country’s veterans, who were in the Falklands War, a land war between the country and the United Kingdom.
Someone believed the license plate on the Porsche was a direct slight towards the veterans and referenced the war, instigating what turned out to be a potentially deadly situation that resulted in a last-ditch effort to flee the country while being assaulted with stones and other projectiles in the middle of the night. A terrifying, and memorable moment in Clarkson’s career, without a doubt.
The “Slope” Comment
While filming in Burma, and watching a local man walking towards them, Clarkson said to Hammond, “That is a proud moment- but there’s a slope on it” to which Hammond replied, “you’re right, it’s definitely higher on that side.” While Clarkson maintained his innocence, media regulators found that it was intentional and offensive towards Asian viewers. While not his worst moment, it was an incident that surely was more pain than it was worth.
The Mexico Insults
In a joking bout with Hammond and May, the trio all spouted insults at various aspects of Mexican culture and Mexican people. Hammond said the cars built there would reflections of the people and that they were “just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat” while May said Mexican cuisine was “like sick with cheese on it”, and Clarkson rounding out the offences by saying that they would not get any complaints from Mexico because “at the Mexican embassy, the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control like (makes a snoring sound). They won’t complain, it’s fine.” Even in jest, not Clarkson’s or the boys finest moment.
His First Professional Writing Job
Jeremy’s first writing job, where he would begin to fine-tune his automotive critic skills, came from his being hired at the Rotherham Advertiser, a paper in the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough, Clarkson may not have gotten the job completely on his writing merit. Clarkson himself said that apparently his grandfather had delivered the then editor’s first child during a World War Two air raid, and the man was so grateful still, that he offered Clarkson the job. Amazing to think that it may be Jeremy’s grandfather we all have to thank for his position in the world now as an automotive legend.
Clarkson’s Own Show
Most fans may not know about this one. In 1998, Clarkson received his own talk show on BBC Two. The show, similar to American late-night comedy shows, featured guests, musicians, and celebrities. While the show did not do well, it served as a bridge for Clarkson to make his way to the modern version of Top Gear and no doubt gave him a bolster to his television skills, developing him into the personality he is today.
The “N-Word” Controversy
In an outtake from an episode of Top Gear, Clarkson while singing part of a children’s nursery rhyme reportedly mumbled the “n-word”. While it is debatable whether or not he said it, or if he did, that he mumbled it intentionally in order to not actually say it, the clip caused quite a stir or negative reactions. Clarkson later apologized for the incident.
The World According to Clarkson
His first book. A huge milestone in most anyone’s career, the book came out in 2005 and featured Clarkson giving his thoughts, jokes, insights, and opinions on just about everything. The book was well received, and led to Jeremy writing a host of other books. For those who enjoy Clarkson’s special kind of humor, they are a must-read.
Starting Diddly Squat Farm
With The Grand Tour hosts branching out to other solo projects, Jeremy Clarkson bought some land and has, for the past year, been running a farm that he’s named Diddly Squat Farm. Here, he’s recording a show called I Bought The Farm, in which he documents how difficult it is for farmers to make a living.
He also created a shop on the land that goes by the name of Diddly Squat Farm Shop, and has been open to the public until the pandemic brought an end to it. Since then, it’s been functioning online.
This list doesn’t begin to come close to covering everything in Clarkson’s career. It would take a far longer amount of time and words to do that for a career so long, successful, and storied. Hopefully, it did give you a bit of an insight into the man that is a giant ape, and maybe even taught you a new thing or two about Jeremy.