Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson
(born 11 April 1960) is an English
broadcaster, and writer who specialises in motoring. He writes weekly columns
for The Sunday Times
and The Sun
, but is better known for his role
on the BBC TV show Top Gear
. The show won an International Emmy in 2005.
He and James May were the first people to reach the magnetic North Pole in a
car, which was aired in a Top Gear
special on the 25 July 2007 on BBC
"Not a man given to
considered opinion", according to the BBC,
Clarkson is known to be opinionated and forthright in his views. In the Daily
Mirror of 9 June 2000 he was described by Tony Parsons as a "dazzling hero
of political incorrectness".
The Economist, on the subject of road pricing in UK, has also
described him as a "skilful propagandist for the motoring lobby".
Born in Doncaster to teacher Shirley Ward and travelling salesman Eddie
Clarkson, his parents set up a
business selling teddy bears to enable Jeremy to be educated at Repton, a
fee-paying public school which he claims to have been expelled from.
His first job was as a travelling salesman for his parents' business selling
Paddington Bear toys, after which he trained as a journalist with the
For an episode, broadcast in November 2004, of the first series of BBC's
Who Do You Think You Are?, Clarkson was invited to investigate his family
history; including the story of his great-great-great grandfather John Kilner
(1792–1857), who invented the Kilner jar; a receptacle for preserved fruit.
Clarkson married his agent/manager,
Frances Cain in May 1993 in Fulham. The couple currently live in the town of
Chipping Norton, situated in the Cotswolds, with their three children (born
August 1994, March 1996, and November 1998). Clarkson formerly had a flat as a
base in London for working, but after selling this the couple bought a
lighthouse as a second home on Frances' family home of the Isle of Man.
Known for buying him car related gifts, for Christmas 2007 Frances bought Jeremy
a Grosser Mercedes.
In spite of his penchant for fast driving and high performance cars, Clarkson
has been reported as having a clean licence.
Nonetheless, he readily discusses high speed driving on public roads; in a
November 2005 article in The Sunday Times, Clarkson wrote, while
discussing the Bugatti Veyron, "On a recent drive across Europe I desperately
wanted to reach the top speed but I ran out of road when the needle hit 240mph",
and later, in the same article, "From the wheel of a Veyron, France is the size
of a small coconut. I cannot tell you how fast I crossed it the other day.
Because you simply wouldn’t believe me".
Clarkson is most associated with the British motoring programme Top Gear,
which he presented from 27 October 1988 to 3 February 2000,
in the programme's original format, and then again from 20 October 2002, when it
was relaunched in a new format after a brief period off the air. His current
co-presenters are James May and Richard Hammond. It is now the most-watched TV
show on BBC Two,and is also shown
in over 100 countries around the world.
It won an International Emmy in 2005, for the best non-scripted entertainment
show that was not broadcast in the United States. Clarkson said: "I didn't
attend the awards ceremony because I didn't know that we had won, and I only
found out after a 4am text message, whilst I was busy writing the script for the
next show....". It then also received a National Television Award for best
Factual Programme in 2006 and 2007, defeating the likes of Planet Earth
and Bad Lad's Army.
Clarkson has periodically released motoring-based videos, such as "Clarkson -
Unleashed on Cars". Over the
years, his videos have shown him driving many exotic cars, including a Ford GT40
which had been specially adapted to accommodate taller drivers; Clarkson is 6
feet 5 inches (1.96 m). He is also known for destroying his most hated cars in
various ways, including catapulting a Nissan Sunny using a trebuchet, and
dropping a Porsche 911 onto a caravan (after plunging a piano onto the bonnet
and dousing it in hydrochloric acid, amongst other things). He has also
presented other motoring-related series such as Star Cars, Jeremy
Clarkson's Motorworld, and Jeremy Clarkson's Car Years.
Cars destroyed: Porsche 911, Perodua Kelisa, Yugo 45, Hyundai Accent,
Lada Riva, Maserati Biturbo, Chevrolet Corvette, Alfa Romeo Arna, Morris Marina,
Austin Allegro, Austin Montego, Nissan Sunny, Toyota Prius, Citroën 2CV, Austin
Metro, Ford Scorpio, Triumph TR7, FSO Polonez, Toyota Carina.
Jeremy Clarkson at Auto Italia Stanford Hall 2008.
Although closely associated with motoring, Clarkson has appeared on and
hosted a number of shows on other topics. For three years he had his own chat
show, Clarkson, on which he offended the Welsh by placing a 3D plastic
map of Wales into a microwave oven and switching it on. He later defended this
by saying "I put Wales in there because Scotland wouldn't fit". Similarly, he
once removed the USA from a map and renamed the resultant space the 'South
Canada Sea'. Clarkson also hosted
a six part series, Jeremy Clarkson Meets the Neighbours, in which he took
a Jaguar E-type around Europe visiting France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands,
Belgium and Italy. The programme explored the stereotypes of each of the
countries to see whether or not they were true.
After the dismissal of Angus Deayton, Clarkson was one of a number of guest
hosts recruited to present the topical panel show, Have I Got News for You.
He was the first such host never to have previously been a guest of the
programme, and one of only two people to appear as a panellist after hosting the
show. As of 13 April 2007, he has presented the show five times and been a guest
once. Clarkson has also appeared as a guest on the BBC series QI 6 times,
'winning' three times. He also presented an episode of Never Mind the
Buzzcocks, notable for the absence of long time host Mark Lamarr, featuring
guests Jim Jeffries, Trisha Goddard, Rick Wakeman, and Anthony Costa, in April
Clarkson has presented a number of shows focused on history. For example, he
presented a programme looking at Victoria Cross recipients, in particular
focusing on his father-in-law Robert Henry Cain who received a VC for actions
during Operation Market Garden at Arnhem in World War II.
In 2007 he presented a programme about the St. Nazaire Raid (also called
Operation Chariot), which took place in World War II. A subsequent programme
showed how the graphics were created, the highlight being the construction and
blowing up of a scale model of the HMS Campbeltown the ship that was used
in the raid.
In addition to television, Clarkson also had a small role in the UK release
of the 2006 Disney Pixar movie Cars as the voice of Harv, Lightning
McQueen's agent. Harv is played by Jeremy Piven in the North American release.
A petition calling for Jeremy Clarkson to become Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom has been set up on the government website, and has currently received
over 40,500 signatures. In
response to this, another petition has been set up calling for this never to
Clarkson is passionate about engineering, especially pioneering work, as his
television programmes about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Colossus computer
have shown. Clarkson was awarded an honorary degree from Brunel University on 12
September 2003, partly because of his work in popularising engineering, and
partly because of his advocacy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 100 Greatest
In April 2004 he appeared on the talk show Parkinson and mentioned
that he was writing a book about the soul he believes many machines have. The
book, titled I Know You Got Soul was published in October 2004. He cited
Air France Flight 4590 as his primary example: when people heard the plane had
crashed, quite aside from the sadness they felt for the loss of human life,
there was also almost a sadness for the machine. Clarkson was one of the
passengers on the last BA Concorde flight on 24 October 2003. He paraphrased
Neil Armstrong to describe the retiring of the Concorde: "This is one small step
for a man, but one huge leap backwards for mankind".
Clarkson owns various cars including a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, a
Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG, a Volvo XC90, a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Ford Focus, and
an ex-military Land Rover Defender, and used to own a Ford Escort RS Cosworth
and a Ford GT. His experiences with his Ford GT are well documented, having had
many issues with the satellite tracker/alarm system - he reported that it would
tell him the car had been stolen even when he was driving it, among other
problems, including the rev limit inexplicably being reset to 600 rpm. As a
result of what he called "the most miserable month's motoring possible", he
returned it to Ford for a full refund. After a short period, including asking
Top Gear fans for advice over the Internet, he bought back his GT. He has
called it "the most unreliable car ever made", due to his never being able to
complete a return journey using it.
In the October 2006 edition of Top Gear Magazine James May stated that
Clarkson was looking to purchase a Gallardo Spyder. Clarkson announced at MPH'06
that he had ordered the Gallardo Spyder, with orange seats, and that he sold the
Ford GT to make way for it. He has owned many exotic or high performance cars,
including a Mercedes SL55 AMG, and a Ferrari F355. He also previously owned two
VW Sciroccos and an XJR Jaguar, and bought a BMW Z1 for his wife.
He has also owned a 1970s Alfa GTV6, and has a passion for the marque, declaring
famously on Top Gear, "You cannot be a true petrol-head until you've
owned an Alfa". In his book I Know You Got Soul the Alfa 166 was one of
only three cars classified as having that "special something". Clarkson quotably
called the Brera, Alfa's latest sports car, "Cameron Diaz on wheels".
His known passion for single- or two-passenger high-velocity transport led to
his brief acquisition of an English Electric Lightning F.1A jet fighter, which
was installed in the front garden of his country home. The Lightning was
subsequently removed on the orders of the local council, which "wouldn't believe
my claim that it was a leaf blower", according to Clarkson on a Tiscali Motoring
webchat. In fact, the whole affair was a setup for the programme Speed, and
English Electric Lightning XM172 is now back serving as gate guardian at Wycombe
Air Park (formerly RAF Booker), High Wycombe.
After winning the challenge between a Bugatti Veyron and a Cessna private
aeroplane, he pondered and announced that "It's quite a hollow victory really,
because I've got to go for the rest of my life knowing that I'll never own that
car. I'll never experience that power again."
Help for Heroes
At the end of 2007 Clarkson became a patron of Help for Heroes,
a charity aiming to raise money to provide better facilities to wounded British
servicemen. His effort led to the 2007 Sunday Times Christmas appeal supporting
Help for Heroes.
Views on Cars
Clarkson has always hated Porsche 911 supercars due to simple basic design,
and felt the rear-engined flat six is useless and stupid. Clarkson also thinks
it is necessary to have seats in the back. He called these 911 models a
"Volkswagen Beetle", due to design and rear engine base. He always raced with
other types of supercars with co-presenter, Richard Hammond, who drives a
Clarkson has owned several Alfa Romeos, and contends that 'you cannot be a
true petrol head until you've owned one...it's like having really great sex that
leaves you with an embarrassing itch'.
Clarkson does enjoy late-model V-8 Holdens, available in the UK rebadged as
Vauxhalls, which does cause some problems given his views of other Opel/vauxhall
cars (see below). Of the Monaro VXR he said, "It's like they had a picture of me
on their desk and said (Australian accent) 'I'm gonna make that bloke a car'"
and "I can't believe it... I've fallen in love... with a Vauxhall!". He later
commented that the Vauxhall Monaro VXR should have window wipers on the side
windows, as you spend most of your time sideways when driving in the car.Clarkson
suffered two slipped discs that he attributes to driving this car.
One of Clarkson's most infamous dislikes was of the British car brand Rover.
Rover cars were manufactured at Austin Motor Company's Longbridge plant. After
BMW pulled out of Longbridge, Rover was bought by the Phoenix Consortium and the
English MG and Rover brands merged becoming the last major British owned and
built car manufacturer. Clarkson did reserve some sympathy for the Rover workers
left jobless, saying in his Sunday Times column, "I cannot even get teary
and emotional about the demise of the company itself — though I do feel sorry
for the workforce."
Clarkson is well known for his criticism of Vauxhall Motors.
Clarkson has described Vauxhall's parent company General Motors as a "pensions
and healthcare" company which sees the "car making side of the business as an
expensive loss-making nuisance".
Clarkson has expressed his disdain of the Vauxhall Vectra, including making
what The Independent described as a "characteristically clever" film for
Top Gear when the Vectra was launched, which it judged may have damaged
its sales though he did name the Vectra as his car of the 20th century due to
its bringing of mobility to the masses.
Vauxhall complained to the BBC and announced "we can take criticism but this
piece was totally unbalanced". He
has described it as "One of my least favourite cars in the world. I've always
hated it because I've always felt it was designed in a coffee break by people
who couldn't care less about cars" and "one of the worst chassis I've ever come
However, he has expressed his approval of several recent Vauxhall models; he
has been complimentary about the Astra VXR, Astra SRi and the Corsa VXR .
Although highlighting that he thinks the VXR torque steers "like an absolute
pig" and has poor handling in general,
he has also expressed admiration for its looks, speed and price.
Regarding the SRi he said, "when a car looks this good it can't be bad".
In April 2007 he was criticized in the Malaysian parliament for having
described one of their cars, the Perodua Kelisa as the worst in the world, built
in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes. A Malaysian government minister
refuted the claim, pointing out that no complaints had been received from UK
customers who had bought the car.
The offending remark was shown on one of his video productions, Jeremy
Clarkson: Heaven and Hell (2005),
in which he purchases a brand new Kelisa, proceeds to attack it with a
sledgehammer as soon as he purchases it from a local dealership, tears it apart
with a heavy weight while it is hanged and finally blows it up. He described the
Kelisa as "Built with no soul, no flair and no passion; like a washing machine
or fridge" and "A piece of un-imaginative junk".
Clarkson is well known for his posturing and deadpan delivery. This
frequently includes fairly abrasive and deliberately provocative remarks that
have repeatedly been a source of controversy. However, Clarkson has been known
to appear to take resultant criticism with humour, e.g. responding to being pied
with "Great shot!" He was forced
to eat humble pie, when in attempt to prove the UK government's loss of banking
details of around 25 million people was a fuss about nothing, he published his
own bank details and address in The Sun newspaper. Rather than proving
that no risk was taken by him, he eventually conceded he was wrong when he
discovered that someone had set a monthly direct debit for 500 pounds from
Clarkson's account to a diabetes charity.
Throughout Top Gear, Clarkson has made anti-American remarks, often
stereotyping Americans as fat and dull-witted. For example, in September 2005
Clarkson wrote an editorial for The Sun: "Most Americans barely have the
brains to walk on their back legs".
He has also said on Top Gear when comparing a rural British village with
a rural American village that "If this were America, it would be full of people
doing… whatever it is they do. Incest, mostly".
During the 'American Roadtrip' episode of Top Gear, he says, "If you're
thinking of coming to America this is what it's like. You've got your Comfort
Inn, you've got your Best Western, you've got your Red Lobster where you eat.
Everybody's very fat, everybody's very stupid and everybody's very rude. It's
not the holiday program, it's the truth!"
Later, when being chased by a gang of rednecks, he says "I honestly believe that
in certain parts of America now, people have started to mate with vegetables."
Allegations of bigotry
In October 1998 Hyundai Motor Company complained to the BBC about what they
described as "bigoted and racist" comments he made at the Birmingham Motor Show,
where he was reported as saying that the people working on the Hyundai stand had
"eaten a dog" and that the designer of the Hyundai XG had probably eaten a
spaniel for his lunch. Clarkson also allegedly referred to those working on the
BMW stand as "Nazis".
Allegations of homophobia
In July 2006 Clarkson attracted complaints after agreeing with a Top Gear
audience member that a featured car, the Daihatsu Copen was a bit "gay" or
"ginger beer" (rhyming slang for "queer"). The complainants felt that the
presenter was using the word pejoratively. In December 2006 the BBC ruled that
his remarks had the potential to offend and should not have been broadcast.
However, when presenting a programme about the Colossus computer Clarkson
expressed disdain about Alan Turing being driven to suicide after being
convicted of committing homosexual acts.
From 2000 to 2006 Clarkson had a public feud with Piers Morgan which began
when Morgan published pictures of Clarkson kissing his BBC producer, Elaine
Bedel. On the final
Concorde flight Clarkson threw a glass of water over Morgan during an argument.
In March 2004 at the British Press Awards, he swore at Morgan and punched
him. Morgan says it has left him with a scar above his left eyebrow.
Clarkson has spoken about this in a television interview.
In 2006 Morgan revealed that the feud was over, saying "There should always
be a moment when you finally down cudgels, kiss and make up."
Clarkson has expressed affection for stage actress Kristin Scott Thomas whom
he frequently mentions on Top Gear. Scott Thomas appeared on the programme in
2007. During that episode Scott Thomas ridiculed the car that Clarkson arrived
in, and also disagreed with the rankings of various vehicles on the Cool Wall.
In February 2004 while filming Top Gear, Clarkson rammed a 30-year-old
horse chestnut tree with a Toyota Hilux pickup truck to demonstrate how rugged
the vehicle was. This led to the BBC having to compensate the local parish
council who, until they saw the Top Gear broadcast, thought that the
damage had been caused by local vandals.
During the 13 November 2005 Top Gear episode, a news segment featuring
BMW's Mini Concept from the Tokyo Motor Show showcased what fellow-presenter
Richard Hammond quoted as a "quintessentially British" integrated tea set.
Clarkson responded by mocking that they should build a car that is
"quintessentially German." He suggested indicators that displayed Hitler
salutes, "a sat-nav that only goes to Poland" in reference to the Nazi invasion
of Poland that marked the start of World War II in Europe, and "ein fanbelt that
will last a thousand years," a reference to Adolf Hitler's propaganda slogan of
"the thousand-year Reich". These statements drew negative attention in the
British news media and from the German Government.
In 2005, the School of Technology at Oxford Brookes University and Brunel
University awarded him an honorary engineering doctorate, leading to an assault
from green protesters who objected to his statements about the environment and
his advocacy of car use. He has said: "I do have a disregard for the
environment. I think the world can look after itself and we should enjoy it as
best as we can". After the ceremony, he was hit in the face with a
banana-meringue pie by Rebecca Lush of Road Block.
Clarkson took the insult with humour, commented that the pie had too much sugar,
and remarked, "Great shot!" In an
editorial he wrote for Top Gear in November 2005, he referred to Lush as
Clarkson is one of a few celebrities who have been blamed for poor denim
sales. Louise Foster of Draper's Record, trade magazine to the fashion
industry, is quoted as saying, "For a period in the late Nineties denim became
unfashionable. 501s — Levi's flagship brand — in particular suffered from the
so-called 'Jeremy Clarkson effect', the association with men in middle youth."
He also received a fashion makeover from fashion gurus Trinny Woodall and
Susannah Constantine on a celebrity edition of their style series What Not to
Wear. He had previously been
named as one of the world's worst-dressed celebrities by the two fashionistas.
After Clarkson appeared on the show, he stated "I'd rather eat my own hair than
shop with these two [Woodall and Constantine] again".
Clarkson had long been noted for his pro-smoking viewpoint, with him even
publicly smoking as much as possible on National No Smoking Day. However, he
announced on 14 April 2006 that he had given up smoking. He cited that he had
found a cure for the urge - the Koenigsegg CCX. He also said: "(the cure) is
called smoking", in reference to "smoking the tyres". However, on the episode
aired on 7 October 2007 he revealed that he had started smoking again. He was
also censured by the BBC and other critics for smoking
Other motoring shows
- Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld 1995-1996
- Clarkson's Car Years 2000
Non-motoring shows presented by Clarkson
- Robot Wars (1997): Clarkson presented the first series of the UK
- Clarkson (1998-2000): A chat show that ran for three series
- Jeremy Clarkson's Extreme Machines (1998): where he rode all
manner of machines, including a plane, and an airboat.
- Speed (2001): A series about the history of fast vehicles,
including aeroplanes, boats and cars. One episode featured Michael
Schumacher as a special guest.
- Jeremy Clarkson Meets The Neighbours (2002): A notorious
eurosceptic, Clarkson travelled around Europe, confronting (and in some
cases reinforcing) his prejudices
- Have I Got News For You: Clarkson has hosted five episodes, the
first in 2002, two in 2005, one in 2006 and one in 2007.
- The Victoria Cross: For Valour (2003): Clarkson presented a
one-off documentary about the history of the Victoria Cross, highlighting as
an example Major Robert Henry Cain VC - his father-in-law.
- Inventions That Changed the World (2004): five episodes featuring
the invention of the gun/computer/jet engine/telephone/television from a
British point of view
- Jeremy Clarkson: Who Do You Think You Are? (2004): Clarkson
traced his family tree for one episode of the popular documentary series
- Top of the Pops: co-hosted one episode on July 24, 2005 with
- Great Britons : In a poll to find the greatest historical Briton,
Clarkson was the chief supporter for Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who came
- Jeremy Clarkson: Greatest Raid of All Time (2007): Clarkson
presented a one-off documentary about Operation Chariot.
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks (2006): This was in the series of the
music quiz show after Mark Lamarr had left.
- Clarkson is seen driving the car in the music video of Mr. Blobby's
Christmas no.1 hit
- Room 101: appeared on this in 1995 when Nick Hancock was host.
Clarkson's choices were caravans; flies; Last Of The Summer Wine; the
mentality within golf clubs; and vegetarians
- Have I Got News For You: Clarkson appeared as a guest in 2003
- QI: appeared as a guest on five occasions
- Grumpy Old Men (2003-4): Clarkson appeared alongside his friend,
the food critic A. A. Gill, in a Christmas special and then in the second
full season of this series
Every year since 1995, Clarkson has released a video or DVD, produced by On
The Box, covering a specific motoring theme. With the exception of Shoot-out,
it has been a tradition for him to destroy "some kind of awful car" in each
film, from blowing up a Yugo with a tank to shooting a Chevrolet Corvette with a
helicopter gunship, or dismantling a Buick Park Avenue with a bulldozer.
- Clarkson's Motorsport Mayhem — Charles Balchin, 1995 Imdb
- Clarkson: Unleashed on Cars — Brian Klein, 1996 Imdb
- The Best of Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld — 1996
- More Motorsport Mayhem featuring Jeremy Clarkson and Steve Rider
- Apocalypse Clarkson — Brian Klein, 1997 Imdb
- Jeremy Clarkson's Extreme Machines — 1998 Imdb
- The Most Outrageous Jeremy Clarkson Video in the World ... Ever!
— Brian Klein, 1998 Imdb
- Jeremy Clarkson: Head to Head — Brian Klein, 1999 Imdb
- Jeremy Clarkson at Full Throttle — Brian Klein, 2000 Imdb
- Clarkson's Top 100 Cars — Brian Klein, 2001 Imdb
- Clarkson: No Limits — Brian Klein, 2002 Imdb
- Clarkson: Shoot-Out — Richard Heeley, 2003 Imdb
- Clarkson's Hot Metal — Brian Klein, 2004 Imdb
- Clarkson: Heaven and Hell — Brian Klein, 2005 Imdb
- Clarkson: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly — Brian Klein, 2006
- Clarkson: Supercar Showdown — Brian Klein, 2007 Imdb
Clarkson has written books about cars and humor books as well. The majority
of the content comes from articles he's written for the Sunday Times.
- "Motorworld" by Jeremy Clarkson, first published by BBC Books, 1996
Re-published by Penguin Books, 2004
- "Jeremy Clarkson's Hot 100", published by Virgin Books, 2004
- "Clarkson on Cars by Jeremy Clarkson", first published by Virgin Books,
1996. Re-published by Penguin Books, 2004
- "The World according to Clarkson" by Jeremy Clarkson, published by
Penguin Books, 2005
- "Jeremy Clarkson's Planet Dagenham", published by Carlton Books, 2006
- "I Know You Got Soul" by Jeremy Clarkson, published by Penguin Books,
- "Born to be Riled" by Jeremy Clarkson, published by Penguin Books, 2007
- "And Another Thing: The World According to Clarkson: v.2" by Jeremy
Clarkson, published by Penguin Books, 2007
- "Don't Stop Me Now" by Jeremy Clarkson, published by Penguin Books, 2007