In Defence Of Jeremy Clarkson

As Clarkson's Amazon series The Grand Tour begins, Jeremy Langmead discusses the polarising figure of Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson is grumpy, funny, unfashionable, likes cars, stirring up trouble and once hit Piers Morgan. Quite a lot to like there. He can also be a bit of a twat. He hit his producer while filming Top Gear because there wasn't a hot dinner waiting for him back at the hotel, and is friends with our very own Uncle Dysfunctional, AA Gill (always a concern).

He is also very, very successful. Top Gear, when he was at the helm, was one of the most successful shows in the world, his columns in The Sun and The Sunday Times are the reason many buy those newspapers, and whenever he collates his middle-aged mutterings into a hardback book it tops the best-seller lists. More often than not, Clarkson manages to be rude without being all-out offensive, politically incorrect without being abusive, and, annoyingly for his detractors, often makes a lot of sense: he's good at bursting the balloons of pomposity released by the wafflers of Westminster. Despite being worth millions, and living in Chipping Norton, he still manages to echo the views of the common man with a curmudgeonly charm and skill that has always evaded the likes of Richard Littlejohn or, more recently, Katie Hopkins.

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In fact, the 56-year-old is something of a hero: over the summer his yacht rescued four men off the coast of Mallorca who'd accidentally been blown a mile out to sea on their lilos.

Clarkson's greatest achievement, however, and the reason he is on our list of the twenty-five men who have shaped our country , is that here's a Genesis-loving petrolhead, with appalling taste in jeans, and a face that could freeze Medusa, who's convinced us all that he's just like us but funny and on the telly. The reality is far from that: he's a modern-day, multimedia mogul. And if you actually meet him, a rather charming one, too.