This morning the news became official: Jeremy Clarkson won't be coming back to Top Gear after punching up a producer. If you read between the lines, it's easy to see that the show won't go on without him. And do you know what? That's OK with me.
Clarkson is the inappropriate uncle who brings the "best" out of your other relatives. And of course by "the best" I mean the absolute worst.
Sure, it's funny to watch all of them get together and make dirty jokes, be a bit racist, get drunk and fall over together because you know it's probably a one-time thing that's completely out of the norm. You're the fly on the wall watching an hilarious disaster unfold, and life will go back to normal in a matter of hours. That's the effect of an inappropriate uncle: you all have a cheeky time every so often when you all get together, but that doesn't mean it's something that needs to be celebrated endlessly.
In the same way, inappropriate Uncle Clarkson brings the stupidest shit out of those around him. His inappropriate, right-wing, racist, sexist nonsense was kind funny to watch every now and then, but its frequency became troubling, and harder to pass off as harmless fun.
Between abusing former UK PM Gordon Brown over his disability, making light of a woman's murder, causing an international incident between himself and the country of Mexico, being generally racist in India, allegedly using the N-word during filming, more racism and the Argentina thing (which they all claim was an accident), it's probably time Clarkson was on his way, isn't it?
Top Gear is at its best when it's less about causing offence and more about the cars themselves and the fun you can have behind the wheel. It always has been. Some of Top Gear's best segments, specials and films have centred around the core pursuit of motoring, presented by blokes you'd meet down the pub. It was approachable and very entertaining.
This one was great:
And even this:
You could always tell when the idea for a skit went further than that, however. You could always tell when someone in a Top Gear production meeting had uttered the words "this will piss a lot of people off, let's do it".
The best episodes of Top Gear came after the trio followed their mantra of being ambitious but rubbish. Stuff like building amphibious cars and sailing them across the English Channel, or driving to the North Pole, or through the spine of Africa. That was all good gear, simply because it didn't see them court any controversy for the sake of ratings. The inappropriate uncle that is Jeremy Clarkson kept most of his stupid shit to himself.
Top Gear was enjoyable to a point, but there's only so far you can push it. Or punch it, as it were.
On that bombshell, it's probably time to end.