‘Jeremy Clarkson is returning to the BBC’ has been a common headline since news broke that the former Top Gear presenter is to film an episode of Have I Got News For You, but in truth he’s been a constant presence in the BBC schedules despite the broadcaster letting his contract lapse in March following his “fracas” with a producer.
Since then Top Gear has aired consistently on BBC Three and even BBC Two is currently showing a run of Best of Top Gear episodes – BBC bosses who found his behaviour unacceptable are apparently happy enough to use his past work to plug gaps in the schedules.
In doing so they’re re-running many the “controversial” jokes and jibes that many of them have been keen to distance themselves from these past few months and which they promise Chris Evans’ new version of the show will avoid.
Meanwhile the BBC’s commercial arm is still happy to keep selling DVDs, downloads and streaming rights for the same episodes.
It’s all a far cry from the BBC’s outright ban on the final two regular episodes of Judge John Deed – a FICTIONAL series – which prompted complaints about its portrayal of MMR jabs.
Instead of an on-screen warning, or even relying on the viewer understand that it’s FICTION, the BBC has forbidden the final two episodes, which wrap up a long-running story arc, from being repeated on any channel and even prevents them from being included on DVD releases of the show.
Meanwhile the cash from Top Gear keeps on rolling in despite the apparent disapproval at Clarkson’s behaviour and past antics.
It’s hardly surprising that many talk of the BBC’s “hypocrisy” over Clarkson.
Clarkson and Co are of course heading back to our screens sometime next year courtesy of Amazon which has ordered 36 episodes of a brand new show and seemingly showered it with a simply eye-watering budget.
By the way, if you missed it, last week a colleague and I uncovered evidence which suggests the new show might be called Gear Knobs – you can read our full story over on Buzzfeed.
In the meantime the BBC continues its mixed-message of disapproving of Clarkson so much that it refused to make any more Top Gear with him or even allow him appear on the series finale but finding him acceptable enough to remain on our screens when they’ve got nothing else to fill a slot.