OPINION is divided in South Tyneside over the rights and wrongs of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking from the hit BBC2 show.
The future of the top-rated motoring programme is unclear after the controversial 54-year-old was dismissed following an incident at a North Yorkshire hotel involving a reported assault on producer Oisin Tymon.
I never liked him. His ego always went before him, as far as I’m concerned. I won’t miss him.John Thompson
The outspoken’s presenter’s future has gripped the nation over the last two weeks and even prompted a message of support from Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Tymon has said he is not pressing charges against Clarkson over the attack, but the Top Gear stalwart’s boss, Tony Hall, said he had no alternative but to axe him because his actions, which left his victim with a cut lip, “crossed the line”.
On King Street in South Shields, it was clear that Clarkson’s personality divided opinion sharply.
The presenter can do no wrong in the eyes of South Shields Asda worker Brenda Crutwell, 52.
She said: “I love him, and Top Gear just won’t be the same without him.
“I’ve got all the Top Gear dvds, and I’m devastated that he’s no longer going to be fronting the show.
“He’s so funny and quick-witted, and I can’t imagine anyone filling his shoes.
“My husband got me hooked on it. We’re both big fans now, and I never missed it.”
Less enamoured with Clarkson was retired painter and South Shields shopper John Thompson, 71.
He said: “I never liked him. His ego always went before him, as far as I’m concerned.
“The show itself was all about the presenters, not the cars. It was Clarkson driving fast in some far-flung location, and the cars were secondary.
“There was never enough information about the cars themselves.
“It was just an ego ride for the boys. I won’t miss him.”
Devout Christian Margaret Foster, 67, of Whiteleas, South Shields, believes Clarkson has set a bad example to young people.
She said: “He seems to think that everyone loves him and that he’s above the law.
“What he did was very un-Christian. There is enough violence in the world without adding to it.
“There is no excuse for abuse. My son, who lives in Leeds, is a big fan of the show, but I’m hoping he’ll explain to my four-year-old grandson Owen that what Clarkson did is not how you should behave.”
Ex-Stagecoach bus driver Robert Martin, 54, of Talbot Road, South Shields, disagreed with the sacking.
He said: “It was over the top. He should have been fined or suspended. He’s got a bit of history with getting into trouble, but I think this time, the BBC had it in for him. It wanted him out and used this as an excuse.
“The show is brilliant with Clarkson. It won’t be as good without him.”
Project manager Ryan Whittaker, 32, up from Nottingham to see family in South Shields, disagreed, saying: “I like the bloke, but if I’d done what he did in the workplace, I would have been sacked.”
Post Office insurance worker Jack Ingram, 18, of Chichester, South Shields, added: “He’s a unique character. Yes, it was assault, and you can’t excuse it, but there’s no denying his talent.”