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Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson was one third of the presenter triumvirate of BBC's Top Gear which was a fine show if you like watching road tests of high performance automobiles where an $80,000 list price is considered a bargain. Extolling the virtures of fantastic cars that virtually no one can afford brought in a few wry comments, and so Jeremy announced at the start of one show "We'll kick off tonight with the cheapest Ferrari of them all!" Still, the show is popular enough in the UK - comedian Rob Brydon claims that there is no time you can't turn on the telly and watch Top Gear - and would certainly find a big audience in the US where NASCAR racing has long achieved the status of high culture.

Over the years Jeremy has acquired a reputation for voraciously voicing his various views on and off the air; views it must be said, which are not restricted to affaires des voitures. Although some have said Jeremy simply has the courage of his convictions and does not follow his forceful comments with a wheedling, sniveling apology because some special interest group found the remarks were "offensive", yet others find he goes beyond being the iconoclast and instead is spouting views that belong to the Victorian and Edwardian philosophy when when men ruled supreme. You can find a few of Jeremy's more quotable quotes if you click here.

Alas, finally Jeremy went too far when he found that a BBC producer had not provided him with a thick juicy steak following the day's shooting. After the producer sought treatment at a local hospital, Jeremy was banished from Top Gear. His co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond decided to leave was well. Whether Top Gear will last the regime change remains to be seen.

Jeremy has been frequent panelist on Stephen Fry's quite interesting quiz/comedy show Qi. Ironcially, as a QI panelist Jeremy comes off far from fractious and is actually quite mild mannered and easy going. Still he doesn't hide his opinions, such the time Stephen mentioned that in America there weren't many people named Jeremy. "No," said Jeremy, "it has three syllables."

Although Qi is in many ways an admirable and educational show, alas, there interesting does not always mean accurate. The name "Jeremy" is in fact reasonably popular in the US, although its frequency of bestowment seems to have peaked in the early 1980's where in one year which saw 2,500,000 new Jeremys. That was about 1 % of the population. But in recent years the number of Jeremys has fallen as have English proficiency scores. And so perhaps Jer'my is correct after all.

(As a source for some innocent merriment - at least for Americans - is that when Jeremy appeared as host of the British panel show Have I Got News for You he flubbed the three-syllable word "attributes" and in the retake he substituted "says".)

A US version of Top Gear began in November, 2010, and the last episode broadcast was in 2014. Whether the US version (apparently) petering out is because in the US you only get 67 - 75 % of the air time that you get in England is not known. The BBC - which in many ways has more freedom of speech than what we see in US broadcasts - is a government service, and the cost is largely funded through the television license fee. As a result in England there is no need for commercials to increase executive bonuses and an hour show - shock of all shocks - does indeed last an hour. In the US, nowadays you're lucky to get 40 minutes of actual showtime with the other 20 minutes being commercials. In the US if you see a BBC program it is likely to be considerably - and lamentably - edited.