Fans from around the world have backed a petition calling for British presenter Jeremy Clarkson to be reinstated to his job hosting the ''Top Gear'' motoring show. As Grace Pascoe reports, his suspension following a ''fracas'' with a producer leaves the BBC with a big, and possibly costly, dilemma.
He's one of the world's most famous television personalities. His Top Gear show is watched in 214 territories. But, once again, Jeremy Clarkson's in trouble with his BBC bosses. "Following a fracas with a BBC producer," they said in a statement, "Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation..." The alleged scrap has led to another scrapping - the rest of the current series. It'll be missed by many. Each week Top gear is watched by over 350 million viewers around the globe. Nearly half a million fans want Clarkson back in the driving seat, all signing an online petition. Robert Haigh is from Brand Finance. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) BRAND FINANCE, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, ROBERT HAIGH, SAYING: "Clarkson is really central to the appeal of the programme. It is only the U.S. and a few other territories that have their own version and so it is hard to conceive of it being popular elsewhere. Clearly the main draw for the programme is Clarkson all over the world, despite the fact that he has managed to offend more or less every nation." Top Gear earns the BBC over 150 million pounds in foreign sales every year and the BBC brand is worth an estimated six billion dollars. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) BRAND FINANCE, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, ROBERT HAIGH, SAYING: "On the one hand it has its really stellar reputation across the world for quality journalism and Clarkson's outburst shall we put it can run counter to that image and risk damaging the brand in that respect. But then on the other hand he is a very entertaining personality and he bolsters the BBC's reputation for producing interesting, entertaining programming." But the broadcaster - which is funded by license payers - has a dilemma, says IG's Chris Beauchamp. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) IG, MARKET COMMENTATOR CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "I think if you had a listed company that was poised to lose one of its biggest contributing stars or divisions in this case then the share price reaction would be a very negative one. Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson is perhaps a bit of damp squib and you wouldn't see the same viewing figures." The BBC may not see the same sales receipts without him either. Clarkson is no doubt hoping that may go in his favour.