BBC puts brakes on ‘Top Gear’ presenter Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson was suspended earlier this month after he was involved in a "fracas".

FILE: Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The BBC on Wednesday confirmed that it's given Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson his marching orders.

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, said in a statement, "It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and [producer] Oisin Tymon."

Clarkson has changed his twitter bio to - quote "I used to be a presenter on the BBC 2 show, Top Gear."

Clarkson was found guilty of punching a producer, reportedly because he had wanted steak, but was given cold meat instead.

He was suspended earlier this month after he was involved in a "fracas" with the producer.

Clarkson, who has generated both controversy and profits for Britain's publicly funded broadcaster, was already on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.

A friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, Clarkson became the popular face of Top Gear by mixing a passion for cars with blunt banter and swagger that offended, among others, environmental groups, mental health charities and cyclists.

Clarkson was called before BBC bosses last year after a British newspaper reported he had been heard using the "N"-word as he recited an old version of the rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe to choose between cars in filming two years earlier.

The 54-year old presenter later apologised for any offence caused by the reports about the use of the word.

He wrote in his Sun newspaper column in May that he had been told by the BBC that if he made "one more offensive remark, anywhere at any time, I will be sacked".

But he was back in hot water in October when the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina, two countries which went to war in 1982.

A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL - which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict.

Despite or even because of years of controversy, however, Top Gear has become one of the BBC's most successful and lucrative programmes. It was even recognised by Guinness World Records as the most-watched factual television show of all time.

The BBC said it would say nothing further on the matter and Clarkson could not be reached for comment. His manager and his assistant did not immediately return calls requesting comment.

Additional reporting by Reuters