Controversial Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is on the verge of signing a new £12million deal with the BBC.
Clarkson, the centre of a racism row earlier this month when he was forced to apologise for allegedly using a racist word, is in the final stages of negotiations for another mega-bucks, three-year contract.
The mouth-watering deal will keep him at the BBC until 2018 – even though bosses warned him after the latest uproar that he is “drinking in the last chance saloon”, reports the Sunday People.
A BBC source said: “There is no question of Jeremy’s deal not being renewed.
“It is being worked on right now. The top executives want him signed up as soon as possible.
“We are all very excited that Top Gear as we know it will be with us for three more years from 2015.”
The 54-year-old host’s lucrative new contract comes despite being officially reprimanded by Director Danny Cohen and forced to apologise after he appeared to the use the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during a Top Gear out-take. The news that Clarkson has such a long future at the BBC will surprise his critics after the racism row.
Three weeks ago, unseen Top Gear footage emerged of him chanting: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…” He then appears to mumble: “Catch a n***** by his toe”.
It also apparently shows him swinging his finger between two cars as he recites the racist version of the children’s counting rhyme. The clip was later edited out of the show.
Clarkson was ordered to make an apology by the Corporation following his remarks and he appeared on video “begging forgiveness” as he admitted he had appeared to “mumble” the offensive word despite attempting not to.
Insisting he had done everything in his power to ensure the scene was not broadcast, he added that he “loathed” the word and had not actually said it.
Days later, in bizarre outburst, he went on to mock the BBC in his newspaper column.
Dad-of-three Clarkson wrote: “I think most people now realise that I didn’t say the n-word but as a result of the lurid headlines, I must realise I must turn over a new leaf.
“I’ve been told by BBC chiefs that I’m drinking at the last chance saloon so from now on I will arrive at work on a bicycle with a copy of the Guardian under my arm, and at lunchtime instead of moaning about how everything on the menu is vegetarian, I shall cheerily ask for extra lentils in my nuclear-free peace soup.”
There were several calls for him to be sacked but he was saved by Director General Tony Hall.
Despite the debacle, Clarkson is in final talks that will see him paid a £1million fee per year, as well as a sum of around £3million annually from BBC Worldwide for Top Gear merchandise that is sold across the globe.
Clarkson’s current deal runs out next April but bosses are keen to get everything signed within the next few weeks.
His BBC2 show is one of their biggest hits, regularly pulling in six million viewers and rising to 11 million when repeats and iPlayer numbers are added.
The source added: “Jeremy is loved by Top Gear viewers, not just in Britain but across the world.
“There is absolutely no way that there are any plans for the show to go on without him so the BBC got in early to make sure he stays.
“Everything is pressing ahead as it should be and is running very smoothly. The BBC don’t want Jeremy to go anywhere else.
“He loves Top Gear so everyone is looking forward to putting pen to paper on this one.”
A new series of Top Gear will air on BBC2 later this year.