Entertainment & Arts

Twitter users divided over Clarkson departure

Jeremy Clarkson leaves his home in west London on a bike, followed by photographers Image copyright Reuters
Image caption One French paper said the dropping of Jeremy Clarkson has had 'the effect of a bomb on Twitter'

The decision by the BBC to drop Jeremy Clarkson, the host of Top Gear, for carrying out a verbal and physical attack on one of the show's producers, has been met with both condemnation and approval by social media users worldwide.

Reactions range from the "BBC has killed Top Gear", to praise for a "brave BBC".

The story was also news for media in areas as far apart as Latin America and Europe, with the Russian Defence Ministry even offering Clarkson a job at its own TV station.

French daily Figaro said the announcement had had "the effect of a bomb on Twitter".

It added that "the sense of disappointment can be read in messages posted on the social network across the Channel and even in France".

Italian journalist Federico Garimberti recalled on Twitter: "Like it or not, a BBC that shows Clarkson the door demonstrates that it doesn't give a damn about its audience. Top Gear is watched by 350 million people in 212 countries."

"This is the end of Top Gear as we know it," Jan Micka exclaimed on the Czech website Auto.cz.

In Iran, a disappointed Twitter user tried to start a trend in defence of the British TV presenter.

"We are all Jeremy Clarkson," declared @CmpiChism, arguing that "no one can present like him".

Other Iranians seemed to agree. Saman Vatanshenasan wrote on Facebook that it was "meaningless to imagine the Top Gear without Jeremy... I need to say this in support of him that I am Jeremy Clarkson".

"Now that the BBC has sacked Clarkson does anyone watch Top Gear anymore? They are crazy," @sellar said on Twitter.

'Principles over profit'

But not everyone in Iran on social media was pro-Clarkson.

Facebook user Mohammad E. Amini pointed out that it was "important to know the red line between fame and extremism".

"BBC saved its name by making this decision," he added.

"BBC decision to stop its cooperation with Clarkson was a very brave and respectable move. Even if you have 30 million viewers there is still no reason for assault," argued @jaavid on Twitter.

Image copyright Zvezda
Image caption Russian TV Channel Zvezda published a letter offering to employ the presenter

In the Czech Republic, the move to drop the Top Gear presenter was welcomed by journalist Ivan Kytka.

"For the BBC, principles are clearly more important than profit. Money is not the most important thing for a public service broadcaster," he said on the Czech TV website.

The BBC's decision not to renew Clarkson's contract was greeted with approval by internet users in Argentina.

Last September, the Top Gear crew had to abandon filming in the country amid angry protests over a car number plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War.

"Thanks Jeremy… we don't need you around here… when you do come back it'll be to cover the story of when your delinquent countrymen give back the Malvinas [Falklands]," said a reader in the online forum of Clarin newspaper.

"The best TV channel in the world can't have this type of employee," was another opinion in the same forum.

Russian job?

Many social media users were amused the BBC's announcement coincided with news of singer Zayn Malik leaving the successful British boy band One Direction.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Zayn Malik and Jeremy Clarkson: News of their respective departures came almost simultaneously

"Jeremy Clarkson and Zayn Malik could team up to form a new boy band - Top Direction," ‏@sicfallacy suggested on Twitter.

But for Italian user Mauro Scarpoloni, Clarkson was obviously the more popular brand. "So the real drama is not One Direction, it's that the BBC has killed @BBC_TopGear #BringBackClarkson," he tweeted.

In Russia, the story seemed to acquire a political dimension.

Interfax news agency quoted St Petersburg councillor Vitaliy Milonov as saying: "Clarkson will be able to find a great job in our country, where he will not be told how to host a TV programme."

Zvezda, the TV channel controlled by the Russian Defence Ministry, announced on its website that it had officially offered to employ the former Top Gear presenter. It published a letter to Clarkson in English:

"Dear Jeremy, the Russian Armed Forces Broadcasting Company 'Zvezda' expresses deep honour to you and kindly asks for cooperation.

"We would like to invite you to be a presenter of motoring show on our TV Channel in Moscow."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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