Future of BBC’s “Top Gear” Uncertain After Host Suspension

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An off-set altercation has imperiled car show "Top Gear" one of the BBC's most lucrative productions.

BBC News said Wednesday that the broadcaster has postponed the three remaining episodes after suspending host Jeremy Clarkson over a reported "fracas" with a producer.

Co-host James May characterized the incident between Clarkson and the producer as "a bit of a dustup."

"But I don't think it's that serious," he added.

"Top Gear'''s blend of car humor and blokey banter has won it legions of fans. The current series was launched simultaneously in more than 50 countries and the BBC has sold the format for locally produced versions in the U.S., China, Russia, Australia and South Korea.

It has also attracted controversy, much of it attached to Clarkson, the best-known of the three main presenters.

In October, the "Top Gear" crew was forced to flee Argentina after facing violent protests for allegedly referencing the 1982 Falkland Islands war on a license plate.

Last year Clarkson asked for forgiveness following allegations that he used the racist n-word during filming for the show. He said at the time had been given a "final warning" by producers.

In 2011, the BBC apologized to Mexico after Clarkson and his co-hosts characterized Mexicans as lazy and oafish.

Will Wyatt, a former director of BBC television, said the broadcaster could try to continue "Top Gear" without Clarkson, but "it would be a bit like the Musketeers without D'Artagnan."

"He is certainly the major personality in it and a huge part of its appeal," Wyatt said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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