On the 25th of March, 2015 the BBC's director-general Tony Hall announced that the corporation would not be renewing presenter Jeremy Clarkson's contract when it expired at the end of that month, effectively dismissing him from Top Gear. The announcement came after an internal investigation in to what the BBC labelled as a 'fracas' between the presenter and Oisin Tymon, a producer on the show. The dismissal has had a huge impact on the show, as the BBC lost the show's executive producer and entire presenting line-up when Andy Wilman, Richard Hammond, and James May quit Top Gear shortly after.
On the 4th of March, 2015, while shooting an episode of the show, Jeremy Clarkson and fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May arrived at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in North Yorkshire. Clarkson was allegedly irritated by the lack of hot food at the hotel, as the kitchen had closed and the chef had gone home, and found fault with Oisin Tymon for this fact. According to Ken MacQuarrie's investigation findings, Clarkson then subjected Tymon to 'sustained' verbal abuse, followed by a physical attack which lasted thirty seconds. After the attack, Tymon was admitted to a nearby hospital and treated for a swelled and cut lip.
The incident was reported to the BBC by Clarkson himself on the 10th of March, 2015 and the BBC decided, controversially, to take action immediately, suspending the presenter and putting Top Gear on hiatus after Clarkson's co-presenters Hammond and May refused to film without him. Clarkson attempted to apologise to Tymon several times in the following days, even knocking on his door, to no avail. The incident came shortly after several high-profile controversies with Clarkson at the centre, including his use of racists remarks in the Burma Special and in unaired footage from the nineteenth series and outrage over a number plate that was used in the Patagonia Special.
After a fifteen day long investigation, the BBC concluded, on the 25th of March, 2015, that Clarkson had launched an 'unprovoked' attack on Oisin Tymon and, as such, made the decision to refuse to renew Clarkson's Top Gear contract. The decision was handed down by BBC's director-general Tony Hall in a video statement.
Following the BBC's announcement doubts were immediately cast on whether or not Clarkson's co-presenters, Hammond and May, would continue without him. It was alleged that Top Gear producer Andy Wilman and James May met with Clarkson in private the day after his dismissal. It was also alleged in the media that Tony Hall had received death threats because of his decision and was now being guarded by police.
Yorkshire Police also began to investigate Clarkson's fracas in the days following the BBC's announcement. It was revealed soon after that Oisin Tymon did not intend to press charges against Clarkson for the assault he had admitted to.
On the 30th of March, 2015 a leaked email, sent by executive producer Andy Wilman to other staff members who were working on the show, was leaked to the public. The email, entitled 'au revoir', suggested that Wilman, Hammond, and May were set to quit their roles on the show following Clarkson's dismissal. Wilman combated these claims in a statement released shortly after. Later, images of Hammond and May were removed from the Top Gear website. About a month later, on the 24th of April, 2015, Wilman officially resigned from the BBC and he was photographed meeting in public with Clarkson, Hammond, and May.
On the 31st of March, 2015 it was also announced that Top Gear Live would be re-branded Clarkson, Hammond, and May Live so as to allow Clarkson to continue to headline the performances.
Later that same day, Hammond and May's Top Gear contracts officially lapsed. Reportedly, the duo refused to renew these contracts leaving them, from then onwards, off the team of Top Gear presenters. Both May and Hammond have publicly stated that they will not continue with the show without Clarkson. As a result, they will be replaced by the BBC.
Clarkson officially acknowledged the incident in his Sunday Times' column on the 19th of April, 2015, in which he vowed to create another show.
On the 22nd of April, 2015 the controller of BBC Two, Kim Shillinglaw, confirmed that Jeremy Clarkson's final Top Gear footage would be screened later in the year, likely sometime over the summer.
In early May, 2015 the Sunday Express revealed that a source had claimed to overhear ex-producer Andy Wilman discussing Top Gear's new lineup over lunch. The Sunday Express reported that Wilman had claimed that Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister, and Guy Martin were in line to replace Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May as presenters of the show when it returned to television later in the year or early next year.
Clarkson's Future on TV
In a column Jeremy Clarkson wrote in April, 2015 he vowed to create a new TV show following his dismissal from Top Gear. Initially believed to be headed to ITV or Netflix, the trio announced on the 30th of July, 2015 that they would present a new show for Amazon Prime which would air its first series in 2016. Andy Wilman, Top Gear's executive producer since 2002, also joined the trio in their move to Amazon Prime. Clarkson, May, Hammond, and Wilman have signed on for three series of the new show, the name of which was later revealed to be The Grand Tour. The show premiered on the streaming service on the 18th of November, 2016.
New Presenting Team
The BBC was quick to confirm that Top Gear would not be ending as a result of Clarkson's dismissal and that the corporation would be looking to renew the show for the 2016 season, for a twenty-third series.
In early June, 2015 it was reported that the BBC had offered Hammond and May upwards of four million pounds to continue presenting the show in Clarkson's absence, an offer which both men later rejected.
Following the loss of all three current presenters of the show the BBC was forced to hire a completely new presenting team. Clarkson's replacement was a hot topic for months following his departure from the show with the media suggesting that Jodie Kidd, Phillip Glenister, and Guy Martin were all in contention for the role. Finally, after months of speculation, on the 17th of June, 2015 the BBC confirmed that Chris Evans would be taking the reigns as lead presenter alongside a team of co-presenters.
On the 6th of October, 2015 Evans revealed a few more details about the new show saying that he wouldn't try to imitate what Clarkson, Hammond, and May had done with the show and was going to change the series' long-running studio format. Evans also revealed that he wants to get remove the show's well established three-presenter format too, saying that he's contemplating whether he should "form a band" or stay a "solo-artist".
Finally, in early 2016, Chris Evans' co-presenters were announced; Friends star Matt LeBlanc was announced first, with Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz, and Rory Reid being announced a week later.
Evans quit the show following the premiere of the series finale of Top Gear's twenty-third series following an intense backlash from fans over his performance on the show.