Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We'd Have Been Sacked 100 Times ... Clarkson Steps into Sexism Row

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We'd Have Been Sacked 100 Times ... Clarkson Steps into Sexism Row

Article excerpt

Byline: Alistair Foster Showbusiness Correspondent

THE ousting of Andy Gray and Richard Keys from Sky Sports was compared with Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch as top stars leapt to the former presenters' defence.

Bruce Forsyth said the pair -- attacked for their lewd, sexist comments -- were merely engaging in the "banter" that is part of everyday life on TV.

And Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond told of their fears other presenters could be sacked for voicing an opinion off-air.

Clarkson, 50, said: "If that's the new benchmark, the three of us would have been sacked probably 100 times for the things we've said. So would everyone.

"It's baffling. It's a very baffling, worrying time if I'm not allowed to say to Richard or James something on my mind for fear I could be sacked for it."

He went on: "In the Spanish Inquisition sketch, the joke was that someone could be charged with heresy by word, heresy by deed and heresy by thought.

"And you think, how funny -- you could be done for heresy by thought. But I think we've arrived at the stage now where you actually can be busted for heresy by thought, which is terrifying.

You could think a thought and someone could sack you for it.

"While we try very hard on Top Gear not to be sexist, if a man wants to think that, then that's fine. You should be allowed to think what you want to."

Clarkson was speaking backstage with his two colleagues at the National Television Awards in the O2 last night, where their show won Most Popular Factual Programme.

May also joked about Gray's comment regarding his microphone to Sky Sports' Charlotte Jackson, when he said, "Can you tuck that down there?" as he prepared to go on air.

The Top Gear presenter said he "wanted to thank the young lady who stuffed the microphone down my trousers". As the audience laughed, Clarkson said May would soon be out of a job.

May added: "I dislike Jeremy intensely but I'd die for the right for him to continue to be as objectionable as he is." Hammond said: "It's a case of who says it, and who do they say it to. …

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