Jeremy Clarkson is considering quitting the BBC, even if he is cleared of allegations he punched a Top Gear producer, a source close to the presenter has told RadioTimes.com.
Clarkson is currently suspended from the corporation, after allegedly punching producer Oisin Tymon while filming on location last week. The BBC has postponed the final three episodes of the current Top Gear series.
Sources close to the show told RadioTimes.com that the presenter, who is already on his “final warning” at the BBC, swung a punch after being told there was no hot food available after a day’s filming.
Clarkson is understood to have told friends that he did not punch Tymon, but that there had been some “handbags and pushing” over the incident.
A source close to the presenter said that his relationship with key BBC executives has sunk so low that he is considering quitting the corporation, even if he is cleared of the disciplinary charge against him.
“The last three episodes of this series have been pulled,” the source said. “Can I see him going back to film another BBC series? I don’t think so. But he’ll be fine. The other broadcasters will bite his arm off.”
The development comes as a petition to reinstate Clarkson passed 330,000 signatures, with Top Gear fans rushing to support the presenter. Clarkson joined Top Gear in 1988, and leaving the corporation would pose huge challenges for the show. Additionally, it is not clear whether the presenter has any non-compete clauses in his contract, which would restrict him entering into agreements with other broadcasters.
The BBC has still not finalised the arrangements for Clarkson’s disciplinary hearing, but it is understood to want to move quickly.
The corporation is expected to set the wheels in motion before the weekend, as the presenter has a weekly column in the Sunday Times, which he has used to address previous Top Gear controversies.