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BBC suspends TV motormouth following 'fracas'.

Byline: Robert Dex newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

THE BBC has suspended Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson "following a fracas" with a producer.

The presenter has lurched from controversy to controversy in recent months - offending foreign diplomats, viewers, MPs and his own bosses at the BBC.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No-one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time."

Later the Press Association reported that it "understood that all three remaining episodes of the series have been postponed by the BBC".

Sunday's episode was set to feature Clarkson with co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May getting to grips with classic cars such as a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 Cabriolet.

They were set to take to the road and end up at a classic track day, while Gary Lineker was the "star in a reasonably priced car".

Clarkson was put on what was called his final warning last year after a racism row after claims he used the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe during filming of the BBC2 programme.

In recent years he has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code by watchdog Ofcom after comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces and faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after branding people who throw themselves under trains as "selfish". He was also forced to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot, but it is the claims of racism that have really damaged his standing with the corporation. Top Gear is one of the BBC's biggest moneyspinners - pulling in millions of pounds from an devoted and international audience. Its latest series was given a global launch with a simultaneous broadcast in more than 50 countries. Its success - and Clarkson's vital part in it - saw BBC TV boss Danny Cohen compare him to a top-flight footballer, telling reporters last year that "no-one is bigger than the club".

Last year, the show was censored by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a "racial" term during the programme's Burma special, which had aired in March 2014.

The year ended with the show's crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.

Clarkson last night remained silent about the suspension on his Twitter feed.

His last tweets were on Sunday, when he wrote: "It's an old skool Top Gear tonight. Nobody falls over and no-one is fired by cannon into a hospital. I'd watch something else frankly."

He added: "God. Crufts is good."

TOP FACTS | Top Gear is the Guinness Book of Records holder for most watched factual programme in the world.

It has an estimated global audience of 350 million, and is sold to 214 countries.

The show has three million YouTube subscribers, 15 million Facebook fans, and 1.74 million Twitter followers.

Top Gear Magazine has a global circulation of 1.67 million, four million people use its website every month, and its live shows have attracted 1.5 million visitors.

It was first broadcast in its current format in 2002, and has run for 22 series.

Top Gear has always been presented by Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, and in 2003 presenter Jason Dawe was replaced by long-running co-host James May.

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Top Gear is one of the BBC's biggest moneyspinners, making Clarkson a multi-millionaire
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 11, 2015
Words:612
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