Two days before assaulting a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson was told by a doctor that he might have cancer. Speaking for the first time in detail about the incident that resulted in his sacking from the Top Gear show, 55-year-old Clarkson said being given the warning was one of the most stressful experiences of his life.
In an attempt to explain his state of mind at the time of the attack, he said: ‘Two days before the “fracas”, I had been told, sternly, by my doctor that the lump on my tongue was probably cancer and that I must get it checked out immediately. But I couldn’t do that. ‘We were in the middle of a Top Gear series. And Top Gear always came first.’
Clarkson said he had now been given the all-clear, but wrote in his column in The Sunday Times: ‘That was the most stressful day I have ever had in 27 years at the BBC. ‘It was beyond-belief stressful, everything was gong wrong, and then you know… there you go. But everyone has stressful days, and they manage to cope better than I had.’
Clarkson was sacked by the Corporation after an ‘unprovoked physical and verbal’ attack in Hawes, North Yorkshire that left his victim, Oisin Tymon, 36, in need of hospital treatment. The presenter said the show about cars had come to dominate his life after his divorce from wife Frances and the death of his mother Shirley, and he worried about all parts of the programme.
Clarkson’s contract was not renewed, with director-general Tony Hall saying at the time ‘a line has been crossed’ and ‘there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another’.
But the broadcasting veteran received widespread public support, including from friend Prime Minister David Cameron.
Clarkson said he even considered turning his back on presenting altogether in the immediate fall-out from the incident.
Earlier this month, North Yorkshire Police said that following an investigation Clarkson would face no further police action over his attack on the producer at a hotel.
Clarkson pulled out of his planned appearance hosting BBC satirical show Have I Got News For You, which was due to be filmed next week, and aired a day later. It would have been his first BBC appearance since the fracas which led to his exit.