Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson lives on

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LONDON – Although BBC has dismissed Jeremy Clarkson, the controversial and popular presenter of motoring
show Top Gear, Clarkson and his two co-presenters on Top Gear, James May and Richard Hammond, would continue
with Top Gear Live Tour, as scheduled for the year around the world. BBC Worldwide was quick to add that the live events would “not however feature any BBC Top Gear branding or content”.

The announcement comes after millions of Clarkson followers and fans of Top Gear aired their disappointment with BBC’s decision to sack the presenter and cancel the Top Gear Live Tour. Millions of fans had already bought tickets for events that take place across the four continents this year, including South Africa, Australia, India, Norway and Ireland. BBC Worldwide, which is in charge of the BBC’s commercial business around the world, said instead of the event being called Top Gear Live, the
show will now be known as Clarkson, Hammond and May Live. The future of the tour was in the balance after the BBC last month sacked the star controversial host Clarkson after he verbally abused and physically attacked one of the show’s producers.

It has also emerged that May and Richard Hammond will not be renewing their contracts with the BBC and are working with Clarkson on a new motoring show for a rival broadcaster. The two had earlier hinted about quitting Top Gear, moments after Clarskon was dismissed. Top Gear Live Tour features a Johannesburg leg from June 12 to 14. “So as not to disappoint the thousands of people around the world who have already purchased tickets‚ BBC Worldwide has agreed with our joint venture partner Brand Events that the remainder of the tour can continue‚” the BBC’s statement said. “We believe this is a sensible
approach in the circumstances.” Meanwhile, earlier on Russia’s Zvezda television, a channel run by the defence ministry, unexpectedly revealed that it had offered a job to Clarkson immediately after the BBC dropped him.

The state-owned channel, which promotes the armed forces but also airs general entertainment shows, published a letter to Clarkson on its website asking him to host a new motoring show and inviting him to visit Moscow to discuss the offer.
“He will reply. I cannot reply on his behalf,” a spokesman for Clarkson named by the channel as Daniel Rix told the channel by telephone.

Zvezda also published on its website an excerpt from an e-mail written by Rix late Wednesday.

It said: “I can only imagine what an episode of Russian vyshaya peredacha (a literal translation of Top Gear into Russian) would look like.”

“It could feature a Tzar in a reasonably priced car!” Rix added jokingly, referring to a celebrity feature on the show called “a star in a reasonably priced car”. “Possibly he’ll learn a lot of new things about our car industry and will change his mind after becoming a presenter on Zvezda,” it said optimistically. Top Gear draws more than 350 million viewers around the world and is popular in Russia, where the show airs on state television. A licensed Russian local version ran for a while but did not prove a hit. Clarkson has visited Russia to film the programme and present road shows for fans.

– Compiled from BBC & AFP

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