Jeremy Clarkson called BBC bosses to apologise over the fracas which led to his suspension in an attempt to draw a line under the matter, a friend of the star has said.
AA Gill, a “mate” and colleague of the Top Gear presenter, labelled the BBC’s investigation into the row “preposterous and ponderous” and praised the 54-year-old as hard-working.
Meanwhile, Clarkson, whose alleged row with producer Oisin Tymon was reportedly over a £21.95 steak, described himself as a “not very interesting fat man” and joked about retirement while he awaits a disciplinary hearing.
In a newspaper column, he hinted that the time may have come for him to leave Top Gear, likening himself to a dinosaur that nature had made a mistake in inventing.
Gill, writing in the Sunday Times, said: “Jeremy reported the incident. It was over the absence of hot food at the end of a long and frustrating day with the prospect of another early start in the morning.
“The producer, Oisin Tymon, had not made a complaint. Jeremy called Danny Cohen, the director of BBC television, directly and explained he had lost his rag. Sources close to Top Gear say the reasons were that he wanted to apologise and make an amend, not least for the sake of the hundreds of people standing by to carry on with the rest of the show. Cohen had a choice: to do the right thing or the bureaucratic thing, but at the BBC no good intention goes unquestioned.”
Defending Clarkson, he said: “People work long hours with a great deal of stress, and small things – almost invariably food – are tetchy trip-wires. Whatever did happen, in mitigation to Jeremy, nobody works harder or under more stress than he.”
In his column, Clarkson wrote: “We read often about active and busy people who die the day after they retire because they simply can’t cope with the concept of relaxation. So as I seem to have a bit of time on my hands at the moment, I thought it would be a good idea to take up some kind of hobby.
“I began by watching daytime television, and soon felt myself starting to slip away. So I turned over to the news and it was all about a not very interesting fat man who had been suspended from his not very important job. But watching the fat man made me hungry and that’s when the penny dropped: I’d take up cooking.”
It does not go well though, the star admitted, and he concluded: “So my new hobby is called ‘going out to restaurants and letting people who know what they’re doing cook my food’.”
Shortly after news of the suspension broke last week, the presenter’s daughter Em Clarkson tweeted: “Oh God, BBC please take him back… He’s started cooking…”
It comes after reports suggested the row erupted because no hot food was laid on at a hotel in North Yorkshire, where the crew were staying after filming.
It could be weeks until Clarkson’s fate is decided and it is understood not all the potential witnesses to the row have yet been contacted ahead of the hearing will be led by Ken MacQuarrie, head of BBC Scotland.
He is scheduled to appear alongside co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond at four live shows in Norway this month and a decision on whether to go ahead is expected early next week.
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