Jeremy Clarkson Should Never Have Been Sacked, Says Former BBC Boss

"Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend"

It was one of most polarising cultural debates in recent British memory: Clarkson, should he stay or should he go?

Most people found it a bit out of order that the face of Top Gear assaulted a co-worker over a steak and chips that never materialised, but - according to his former BBC boss - letting him go was a mistake.

"Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend," Mark Thompson - former BBC Director-General - told The Sunday Times.  "I don't think people should punch their colleagues. It's hard to keep them if they do. But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose.

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"He spoke to people who didn't find much else in the BBC. The fact no-one could ever quite believe the BBC allowed Top Gear to go out was a precious thing to hang on to. As a fan, I regret its passing."

Clarkson was, as you know, then replaced by the unequivocally unpopular Chris Evans, a move which caused the iconic series to erupt into a flaming wreck of weak gags and tepid challenges. 

Thompson also discussed other times he had to deal with Clarkson's transgressions: "Clarkson phoned up out of the blue when I was on a day off. His first words were, 'I won't apologise, I don't care what you say, I won't'.

"I said, 'Er, why would I want you to apologise?' He told me that he'd just called Gordon Brown, who was then prime minister, a 'one-eyed Scottish idiot' and a 'c**t'. We agreed that he would apologise for calling him 'one-eyed'."

But while the BBC are scrambling to salvage the show, Clarkson is living it up over at Amazon Prime, with his new series The Grand Tour set to arrive soon.