Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson Headshot

Broadcaster • Journalist • Host • Writer

Birth Date: April 11, 1960

Age: 63 years old

Birth Place: Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, UK

Admired and loathed in equal measure, motoring enthusiast Jeremy Clarkson may have been one of the most divisive personalities in British TV history, but his no-nonsense, politically incorrect style was undeniably the driving force behind the unexpected world domination of "Top Gear" (BBC2, 1977- ). Following several years in local journalism, Clarkson joined the landmark show in 1988 where his near-the-knuckle humor and outspoken views helped attract a much wider audience, and by the end of the '90s he had established himself as the BBC's senior authority on all things vehicle-related. But it was the 2002 studio-based reboot of the show that turned him into an icon for petrolheads across the globe, with audiences in over 100 countries tuning in for its mix of novelty challenges, factual information and middle-aged banter. However, Clarkson soon became just as renowned for his tabloid-baiting behavior, and regularly came under fire thanks to derogatory comments on everyone from lorry drivers, to former Prime Minster Gordon Brown, to the entire population of India. A physical attack on one of the show's producers eventually cost him his job in 2015, but the millions of fans who protested at his dismissal only highlighted just how much of an impact he'd made on the cultural landscape.

Born in Doncaster, Yorkshire in 1960, Clarkson first exhibited his anti-establishment tendencies when he got expelled from his Derbyshire boarding school for "making a nuisance of himself." His first job was as a traveling salesman for his parents' Paddington Bear toy business, and he later trained as journalist at the Rotherham Advertiser, going onto write for several other local newspapers including the Shropshire Star, where he made his debut as a motoring columnist. In 1984, Clarkson and fellow motoring enthusiast Jonathan Gill formed the Motoring Press Agency in which they conducted road tests for various publications, which led to a job offer at Performance Car magazine. Clarkson would go on to land columnist positions at national newspapers The Sun and The Sunday Times, publish over a dozen best-selling books in which he not only discussed his love of cars but also commented, typically with a large dose of cynicism, on the wider world, and of course, write for Top Gear magazine. But it was his 1988 appointment on the TV version of the latter which would establish his credentials as the world's most famous petrolhead.

Motoring series "Top Gear" (BBC2, 1977-) was already over a decade old when Clarkson was appointed as one of several new faces for its twelfth season, but his humorous and highly critical style of presenting helped to give it a new lease of life, and by the end of his first year, it had become the channel's highest-rated show. Clarkson remained a regular fixture there for the next 12 years, and his increasing popularity also led to him fronting several other ratings successes during that period, including "Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld" (BBC2, 1995-96), "Jeremy Clarkson's Extreme Machines" (BBC2, 1997) and his own chat show, "Clarkson" (BBC2, 1998-2000), as well as the first season of technological game show "Robot Wars" (BBC2, 1998-2003). In 1998, Clarkson found himself at the center of his first media storm after reportedly making bigoted comments about the staff of South Korean company Hyundai at a motor show. But it didn't affect his career, and while taking a break from "Top Gear" (BBC2, 1977-), he went onto land several further eponymous shows including "Jeremy Clarkson's Car Years" (BBC2, 2000) and "Jeremy Clarkson's Speed" (BBC1, 2001).

Clarkson returned to his signature show for its 2002 studio-based reboot, when the focus shifted from the more practical elements of buying a car to a more unconventional array of novelty challenges, celebrity interviews and politically-incorrect banter. Joined by Richard Hammond and James May, Clarkson's provocative side was allowed to shine in this new format, and although he attracted just as many detractors as he did admirers, it was a style which helped propel the show from niche programming to global phenomenon. By the end of the decade, "Top Gear" (BBC2, 1977-) was the world's most watched factual show, with an estimated 350 million viewers across 170 countries, and had spawned a whole host of spin-off DVDs, books and music compilations. Clarkson also continued to diversify into other areas, presenting travel series "Jeremy Clarkson Meets the Neighbours" (BBC2, 2002), historical documentary The "Victoria Cross: For Valour" (BBC1, 2003) and paying tribute to various technological pioneers on "Inventions That Changed The World" (BBC1, 2004), as well as becoming a regular guest host of topical panel show "Have I Got News For You" (BBC1, 1990-) and contributor to "Grumpy Old Men" (BBC2, 2003-06).

However, Clarkson's penchant for speaking his mind began to overshadow his talents as the '00s drew to a close. In 2008, he made a misguided quip about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes. A year later, he was criticised for making a mean-spirited comment about then Prime Minister Gordon Brown's eyesight, and in 2011, the BBC received 31,000 complaints after Clarkson joked on "The One Show" (BBC1, 2006-) that public sector strikers should be executed in front of their families. Clarkson also managed to offend the gay community, a facial disfigurement charity and the people of Mexico, Thailand Argentina, Wales and India, just to name a few, during what appeared to be a one-man politically-incorrect crusade. In 2014, Clarkson was perhaps belatedly given a final warning by BBC executives when he was discovered to have used a racial slur in a clip filmed, but never broadcast, several years previously. Clarkson was then suspended from "Top Gear" (1977-) in March 2015 following a dispute over catering in which he punched producer Oisin Tymon, and despite over a million signatures protesting against the decision, the show severed their ties with him for good just two weeks later.

Credits

Jeremy Clarkson: King of Controversy

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2023

Clarkson's FarmStream

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2021

It's Clarkson on TV

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2021

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Celebrity Specials

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2020

It's Clarkson on TV

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2020

It's Clarkson on TV

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2020

The Grand Tour Presents: A Massive Hunt

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2020

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: The Million Pound Question

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2020

The Grand Tour Presents: Seamen

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2019

Top Gear: Winter Blunderland

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2019

Top Gear: The Best of the Specials

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2018

Top Gear: The Best of the Specials

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2018

The Grand TourStream

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2016
69%

Top Gear: Greatest Hits

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2016

Top Gear: From A-Z

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2015

Top Gear: Best of Series 22

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2015

Top Gear: Patagonia Special

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2014

Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip 2

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2014

Top Gear: Ambitious but Rubbish

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2014

Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip

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2014

PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster

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2014

Top Gear Sydney Special

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2013

Top Gear: Worst Car

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2013

Stephen Fry: Best of Gadget Man

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2013

Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip

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2013

Top Gear: The Perfect Road Trip

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2013

Top Gear: The Worst Car in the History of the World

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2012

Sport Relief Goes Global

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2012

Top Gear India Special

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2012

The Jonathan Ross ShowStream

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2011

The Jonathan Ross ShowStream

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2011

QI XL

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2011

Top Gear: The Ashes

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2011

Have I Got a Bit More News for You

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2010

Top Gear: Bolivia Special

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2009

Love the Beast

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2009

Top Gear: Vietnam Special

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2008

Top Gear Botswana Special

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2007

Today With Kathie Lee & Hoda

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2007

Phineas and FerbStream

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2007

Top Gear: Polar Special

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2007

The Graham Norton ShowStream

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2007

8 Out of 10 Cats

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2005

Who Do You Think You Are?

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2004

Top Gear: Stars in Fast Cars

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2004

QIStream

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2003

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2003

The Best of Top Gear

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2003

The Best of Top Gear

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Top GearStream

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2002

Top GearStream

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2002

Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

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Friday Night with Jonathan Ross

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2001

Jeremy Clarkson At Full Throttle

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2000

Jeremy Clarkson At Full Throttle

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2000

Have I Got Old News for You

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1999

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

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1998

Robot Wars

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1998

Have I Got News for You

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1997

Room 101

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1994

The Mrs. Merton Show

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1993

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