The incident that ended the Jeremy Clarkson era of Top Gear will always be known as a fracas, but real information on what actually happened that day in 2015 when Clarkson punched the top Gear producer Oisín Tymon is still vague. In a recent interview with James May on the Out To Lunch podcast, he gives us more detail about what actually happened that day and the reasoning behind it, and the eventual fall of that era of Top Gear.
It was reported that in a row over steak, Clarkson called Tymon a ‘lazy, Irish ****’ during a vocal fight at a hotel in North Yorkshire. This led to Clarkson hitting the producer with him receiving a bloody lip from the confrontation. Since then, a plaque has been erected where it happened.
The ‘fracas’ then turned into a lawsuit in which Clarkson and the BBC paid £100,000 to Tymon, Clarkson’s contract was not renewed. This meant the incident didn’t lead to a full tribunal hearing. Richard Hammond and James May left Top Gear shortly after, following Jeremy to Amazon Prime where they now produce The Grand Tour.
James May was very open on the incident in this recent interview, saying the following on the incident:
“There was a huge amount of pressure at the time.
“I hate the idea of being smug about it, but we were the world’s biggest factual entertainment show – the biggest one in history, possibly.
“At that point [in 2015] it was reckoned it had something like 350-360 million viewers.
“It’s a huge number, and there is a pressure to keep it up. Occasionally it will boil over in one way or another.
“If we were AC/DC or Led Zeppelin, or the Rolling Stones and we were throwing up out the back of Rolls Royces or occasionally giving somebody a slap…
“Or if we were a professional football team misbehaving in a nightclub, people would go ‘oh that’s terrible, those rock stars…’
“It wasn’t really that different, being Top Gear. And on the whole, I think we behaved quite well.”
It was also rumoured at the time of the fracas that Jeremy Clarkson had just received a cancer scare. It’s no surprise, if this was true, that he was tipped over the edge so quickly.
May, who is about to release his first cooking show and accompanying cookbook later this year after buying a pub, also shone a light on what it was like following Clarkson after they left Top Gear.
“You’re sort of morally obliged to do what the vast majority of the viewers want.
“Some of the viewers were very annoyed about it, but a lot of them wanted to see us stay together.”