An executive for ITV has said that Jeremy Clarkson will keep his job on game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, following a storm of controversy around his recent comments regarding Meghan Markle.
The broadcaster was the subject of intense criticism late last week after a column in The Sun, where he expressed a desire to see Markle "made to parade naked through the streets" while crowds "throw lumps of excrement at her".
After 20,000 complaints were made about the article to IPSO, the UK's press regulator, ITV Content Boss Kevin Lygo was questioned on whether the broadcaster's relationship with Clarkson would continue.
Speaking to members of the Broadcasting Press Guild (via Deadline), the executive first condemned Clarkson's comments, explaining they "did not represent our values," and adding: “It was awful and he has acknowledged that. I don’t know what he was thinking.”
However, he went on to say that the controversial presenter would continue as the face of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which he took over from original host Chris Tarrant in 2018.
"What [Clarkson] writes in a newspaper column is really more for [the press] to talk about than us,” continued Lygo. “We have no control over what he says and hire him as a consummate broadcaster of the most famous quiz on TV.”
Lygo played down any connection between Clarkson's behaviour and other recent ITV host controversies, such as Piers Morgan storming off Good Morning Britain.
“There are 30 presenters on ITV every day and occasionally one steps over the mark," he added. "Jeremy’s incident didn’t happen on ITV and Piers’s was two years ago – and he resigned amicably rather than being fired.
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"We don’t want people ranting and raving and so forth but on live TV people, occasionally, slightly lose the plot."
After fierce backlash, Clarkson issued a response on Twitter about his comments on Markle.
His statement read: "Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people.
"I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future."