Image: BBC Worldwide Ltd/Ellis O'Brien
Image: BBC Worldwide Ltd/Ellis O’Brien
Like millions of fans around the world, I’m disappointed that Jeremy Clarkson will no longer be part of Top Gear, that the BBC have sacked him and that he made it necessary for them to do so.

On the basis of Ken MacQuarrie’s findings, it’s clear Clarkson’s behaviour went far beyond that reported in recent weeks and that BBC bosses had no realistic alternative but to drop him from the show.

I don’t believe in simple, black and white opinions so I’m not in the least contorted or troubled by simultaneously condemning Clarkson’s actions while also being disappointed that he’ll no longer be part of Top Gear.

But I’m clear that the person responsible isn’t Oisin Tymon or Tony Hall, but Clarkson himself.

Sadly not all of the show’s fans seem able to comprehend this and have spent the hours since Clarkson’s sacking filling social media with threatening comments towards Tymon and Hall.

At the other end of the spectrum are Clarkson’s most devoted detractors, many of whom are wetting themselves in glee at his departure.

The first group are reprehensible. The second seem unaware that axing Clarkson, necessary as it was, places at risk tens of millions of pounds raised from the sale of the show and tie-in merchandise which is then fed into the BBC’s wider programming budget.

Not only does Top Gear cover its own production costs, it covers the entire annual cost of BBC Four or those of a couple of high-end drama series.

Unless the BBC can hit on a winning formula for the show’s post-Clarkson years the decision some are celebrating today could easily see the axing of one or more shows that they enjoy.

None of which, because it seems this can’t be said enough times, makes it OK for Clarkson to have hit one of his team.

But it does mean the BBC, which is under huge pressure to raise as much money as possible from commercial activities, has some hard decisions ahead.

The worst thing it could do is re-hire Clarkson’s co-stars Richard Hammond and James May and ask them to carry on the banter with a new third host.

Their era of the show needs to end with their colleague’s departure if Top Gear is to have any chance of a future and Licence Fee payers are to be spared the loss of a vital cash cow.

Top Gear went off the air in 2001 and came back a year later with a radically different format and this is what needs to happen now.

The very earliest the BBC should considering airing the show is Christmas 2016 when audiences are bored of the usual festive fare and may consider giving it a go.

And they should spend the time between now and then working on a wholly new format for a line-up of presenters who aren’t being asked to present someone else’s show.

Everything associated with the Clarkson era – stars in reasonably priced cars, Gambon corner and even the Stig – needs to be consigned to the bin.

In fact the BBC should probably allow the masked racer to join his colleagues in whatever new endeavour they pursue because as long as he remains on screen he’ll serve as a constant reminder of what used to be and its ignominious death.

Those of us who like Clarkson, Hammond and May’s routine may not like whatever replaces them but chances are the trio will be popping up on a rival network, Netflix, Amazon Prime or DVD pretty soon.