Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson has thanked the hundreds of thousands of fans who have backed him after his suspension from the show.
More than 800,000 people signed a petition demanding he keep his job after he was suspended following the fracas with producer Oisin Tymon, which was sparked when Clarkson was told he could not have a £21.95 hot steak.
Clarkson told the BBC News: “I am very grateful to everybody.”
Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC (Philip Toscano/PA)
He is expected to comment on the incident in his column in The Sun tomorrow, but it could be weeks until his fate is decided by an internal disciplinary inquiry. It is understood not all the potential witnesses to the row have yet been contacted ahead of the hearing.
Top Gear’s stars – Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond – are still scheduled to appear at four live shows in Norway on March 27 and 28 and a decision on whether to go ahead is expected early next week.
All three men’s contracts expire three days after the Norway gigs, which could render any disciplinary hearings redundant.
Clarkson presents Top Gear with James May and Richard Hammond (BBC)
The last three episodes of the series have currently been put on hold.
Star of BBC satire W1A Hugh Bonneville paid Clarkson a back-handed compliment by suggesting he would be welcome on the show, which pokes fun at the corporation.
Speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) awards, the actor said: “He’s at the centre of British culture. He’s the storyline that keeps on giving.”
Hugh Bonneville (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
The BBC has apologised to viewers who complained about the postponed Top Gear episodes.
It said it had ‘received a wide range of feedback about this and some people have expressed their disappointment or have asked for more information’.
It went on: “We do hope you’ll understand that we value this reaction, but the investigation is still under way. Until more is known, we’re therefore unable to say anything further in response and will not yet be making further statements about the issue.
“We realise you’ll be disappointed that we can’t respond to you in any more detail but thank you for contacting us.”