Steerpike Steerpike

Jeremy Clarkson’s half-hearted apology to Gordon Brown

Although Jeremy Clarkson had to leave the Beeb last year following a ‘fracas’ with a producer over a cold meat platter, in his time there he had already developed a reputation for getting himself into tight scrapes. In one such incident, the former Top Gear presenter caused a furore after he called the then prime minister Gordon Brown a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’ — among other things — at a press conference in Australia.

Recalling the fallout at the time, Mark Thompson, then BBC director-general, says he received a call from Clarkson before he even heard about the row. ‘Jeremy Clarkson phoned up out of the blue when I was on a day off,’ the former BBC director-general tells the Sunday Times. ‘His first words were, “I won’t apologise. I don’t care what you say, I won’t.”

Clarkson then explained the range of insults he had used — including calling the prime minister a ‘c—‘:

‘He told me that he’d just called Gordon Brown, who was then prime minister, ‘a one-eyed Scottish idiot’ and a ‘c—‘.

Happily the pair did manage to come to an arrangement in the end; ‘We agreed that he would apologise for calling him “one-eyed”.’

Despite the incident, Thompson says that the Beeb made a mistake giving Clarkson the axe. With Top Gear‘s presenter chair empty once more — after Chris Evans resigned — perhaps it’s time Auntie gave Clarkson a call?

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles


Written by

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this article


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in