READ MORE: Top Gear presenter brushes off suspension
Jeremy Clarkson, the controversial presenter of hit BBC program Top Gear, has joked about his suspension as an online petition for him to be reinstated gathered over half a million signatures.
“I’m just off to the job centre,” he told reporters outside his home in London, a day after the BBC said it had suspended Clarkson and cancelled upcoming episodes of his show over a “fracas” with a producer.
“It means I’m going to be able to go to the Chelsea match tonight,” he added, later making an animated appearance at the Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain.
The outspoken 54-year-old presenter has helped Top Gear become one of the BBC’s biggest draws, with 350 million viewers a week in 170 countries.
The Radio Times magazine said Clarkson, already on a final warning over his alleged use of racist language, was accused of aiming a punch at a male producer.
No sooner had the suspension been announced on Tuesday than fans set up a petition urging the BBC to reinstate him.
“We the undersigned petition the BBC to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson. Freedom to fracas,” said the online appeal at 南宁夜网.change南宁夜生活,, which had gained over 535,000 signatures by Wednesday.
“I’m signing because Clarkson is a superb presenter,” wrote a supporter.
A petition for the BBC to sack him had just 8,100 supporters.
“Clarkson has got away with his bigoted rantings for far too long whilst others have been sacked for less. Why do the BBC let him get away with it?” said one.
Top Gear remains a major earner for the broadcaster though it has been dogged by scandals.
The show’s executive producer Andy Wilman described 2014 as “an annus horribilis” after accusations of racism and an incident in which the show’s crew were driven out of Argentina.