Every so often you read a quote that appears to be about a current issue, but then turns out to have been written four hundred years ago. Anyone who has seen the latest kerfuffle involving Jeremy Clarkson (BBC fracas pulls Top Gear from Sunday night schedule etc) might think the lynch mobs out to get him are a recent phenomenon, but no… The knee-jerk reaction is painfully familiar and was going on ten years ago when I wrote the following article for The Rockall Times, an online spoof newspaper, in 2005. What goes around comes around.
UK SOCIETY MOBILISES AGAINST JEREMY CLARKSON
Co-ordinated campaign to suppress Top Gear presenter
by Bob Wallet
An alliance of Greens, Environmentalists, Road Safety Campaigners and Public Decency advocates are to lobby the next government to have BBC’s Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson banned. The alliance also includes the Campaign for Rural England, the Berkshire Soroptomist Chapter, the British Vauxhall Owners Club, Men Who Like Motorbikes, the Caravan Club, Kill Your Speed, the UK Woolie Pullie Confederation, UKIP and Christian Voice. Transport 2000, Sustrans, the Environment Agency, the Scottish Tourist Board, the Welsh Tourist Board, Plaid Cymru, the Vegan Society, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Women’s Institute, the Women’s Guild, Women’s Own Magazine, British Waterways, the Civil Aviation Authority and the EU also backed the plans to have Clarkson — real name Jeremiah Dibnah Clarkson Jnr, 47 — removed from his post at BBC2’s flagship motoring programme.
“His antics are yobbish and thuggish,” said Primrose Spectacle, President of Nice People who use Buses and Trains (NPBT). “He’s just a jeans-wearing lunatic who advocates killing pedestrians every week in his hateful programme. And he is discriminatory against short people. Look at the way he treats Richard Hammond, his little co-presenter.” Spectacle’s group successfully persuaded her local authority in Blib, Cambridgeshire, to ban vehicles with more than three wheels. An action which provoked fury amongst local farmers who found themselves forced to use trikes instead of tractors and specially-adapted two-wheeled combine harvesters.
“Instead of driving Ferraris, Mr Clarkson should have a TV programme in which he rides bicycles and drives buses. He’d find driving a bus a lot more fun than driving a Ferrari,” said Steve Hounsham of Transport 2000. However, The Rockall Times conducted a poll amongst 127,500 bus drivers and found 99.8 per cent preferred driving Ferraris.
Richard Brainstorm, Chief Constable of North Wales, who gained notoriety after his force booked 28 drivers in the RAC British Rally for speeding, added his support to the Ban Clarkson is a Thug campaign. “The man is a public menace and seems to revel in it,” thundered Brainstorm. He denied rumours that North Wales traffic police had special detectors waiting for Mr Clarkson to drive into the region. “We don’t single out individuals like that, but I’m sure he would be an easy driver to catch when he comes along in his Subaru Mondeo. We’ll ‘av ‘im.”
In addition to the Federation of Chief Constables, the British Bus and Train Drivers Union, the Keep Britain Tidy Group, Greenpeace and the Pedestrian Crossing Manufacturers, the Health and Safety Executive have also joined the campaign. “He is openly defiant of essential Health and Safety advice,” said Rod Barnet, speaking from inside a sterile PVC bubble in the H&E headquarters in Rat Street, Bootle. “He never wears a hard hat in the television studio, he surrounds himself with members of the public who haven’t been vaccinated and he wears jeans which can cause infertility in men, and pregnancy in women.”
Recent Top Gear pieces which have enraged campaigners include Clarkson chasing a Lotus with an attack helicopter. The Ministry of Defence had no idea that their £5bn helicopter was being flown round a television studio, but thought instead it was in Iraq. “We will be holding a full investigation into this affair,” said Air Flight Marshall Bernard “Chopper” Stubbs-fforbes KMGIC. Another Top Gear feature involving the British Armed Forces, saw regular tester “The Stig” (whose real identity was revealed in a News of the World sting to be Bob Willis) drive off the end of HMS Voluptuous into the Bristol Channel.
But Mr Clarkson does have his supporters. Celebrity pundit and keen knitter, Paul Morley told The Rockall Times: “Clarkson is an icon of a bygone age; a punk auteur who has that ‘do anything’ mentality. There are shades of Saul Bellow, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway; you get a real sense that there’s dirt under his fingernails and that he’s not just another pressure-packed 21st Century TV celeb chosen by focus groups.” Morley appeared in the programme’s “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” slot, and completed his lap in one minute fifty eight seconds, placing him between David Hasselhoff and Jasper Carrot.
As news arrived that the campaign had been joined by the Soil Association, Keep Sunday Special, the RSPB, Barnardos, the Humphrey Lyttleton Trust, the National Trust, the Medieval Re-enactment Society, Which!, the British Pagan Foundation, OUTrage, and Oxfam one commentator noted that this was becoming the biggest organised vendetta against one man since the Chinese government went after Chiang Kai-shek. MAFF, the BPI, the BNP, the Anti-Nazi League, the Royal Society and the Fresh Milk Coalition were also considering their position.
However, as The Rockall Times was about to go to press we received information that a shadowy group called the KCB (Keep Clarkson Badd) had been formed and was ready to launch pre-emptive strikes. A sinister press release stated: “We have 20,000 life-size cardboard cutouts which we’ll be placing outside the headquarters of the road safety campaigners and Richard Brainstorm’s holiday home in Bangor. The figure shows Jeremy smoking two Gauloise and holding a cyclist in a headlock. Top Gear will go on; baiting the Germans will continue; and family saloons made by volume car makers will be linguistically trashed using a range of idiosyncratic metaphors. The Cult of Clarkson will not be stopped. He is the biggest cult on television and we should be grateful for that.”
Richard Hammond is away in North Korea and was unavailable for comment. Other Top Gear co-presenter James May is believed to be on a skittles sabbatical on Lindisfarne.
(First published in The Rockall Times, 18th April 2005)
And if you’re wondering, Bob Wallet is the father of Toten Herzen publicist Rob Wallet.
(Oh and for legal reasons, thumbnail photo CC license, Ed Perchick at Wikipedia)