Last Friday, the BBC was flooded with more than 21,000 complaints over leading provocateur Jeremy Clarkson’s latest comments.
His remarks about the public sector workers on strike that day were typically blunt. “Frankly, I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families,” he asserted on The One Show. “I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?”
It was the latest in the Top Gear presenter’s long history of controversial asides; last September, he angered LGBT activists by ‘demand[ing] the right not to be bummed.’ Trade union UNISON’s deputy general secretary Karen Jennings called for the BBC to sack Clarkson, but has now dropped the matter after the latter declared he is “happy to apologise” for any offense caused. One Show presenter Matt Baker had also made an apology during the programme.
In light of the storm, MM took to the streets of Manchester to gauge how the people felt about the latest clash between Jeremy Clarkson and BBC viewers:
Considering Clarkson is paid to be provocative, are we being over-sensitive about his recent comments
Lucy Smith, 24, area manager, city centre: “That was all taken out of context. If you watched it, he also said the strikes were good as it meant less busy roads. But he balanced it out to be impartial, so there’s no need to be offended by what are arguably not his own views.”
Leslie Thompson, 35, company assistant, city centre: ” I don’t like Clarkson, but he is far too irrelevant to get up-in-arms about.”
Jane Gleaves, 60, market research interviewer, Sale: “Should Clarkson be shot in front of his own family? Oh, I wouldn’t go that far, but maybe with water pistols, yes.”
Jeff Arson, 32, unemployed, Oldham: “It’s just a joke, a mean one, but there are other things we should be more worried about.”
Michael Smith, 19, part-time student and Sainsbury’s assistant, city centre: “No. Clarkson is also being a hypocrite, saying he speaks for those who have to work for a living. He’s overpaid.”
Colin Firth, 34, designer, city centre: “Some are being over-sensitive, but at the same time, its family TV and so it’s still his [Clarkson’s] responsibility to not offend anyone. The media has overblown the whole issue now.”
Stephan Hoffman, 27, businessman, city centre: “Yes, but I don’t see why he singled out strikers, it’s just the unions who are the problem. If they ask for too high wage rises, then their employers will have to fire them. I don’t think strikers should be shot, of course, but Clarkson’s general sentiment is correct.”
John Gray, 50, Salford Quays but works in Manchester: ” I don’t watch Top Gear, but from what I read in the news, it was clearly a jocular statement and it shouldn’t have caused such a fuss. But I don’t like the idea of someone being paid to be provocative either. I just don’t like him.”