It is hard to resist the suspicion that Clarkson’s real crime is to be too noisily male. Top Gear was apparently about cars. But the secret of the programme’s success wasn’t the internal combustion engine. It could have been a fishing club or a bunch of blokes restoring steam locomotives. But it was as male as the Tranmere Rovers dressing room and you wanted to be part of their gang. But then came The Incident and out he had to go. Hammond and May walked out with him and now the three of them, producer Andy Wilman and a crowd of people with slightly less creaky joints are preparing another testosterone-fest to be aired by Amazon Prime next autumn. Four middle-aged blokes have crossed from Old Telly to New Telly.
It is, Clarkson said, too early to judge how different it will be to make a show about cars for an American corporation than it was to do something similar for the BBC. One can be fairly confident that the persistent suggestion that Mary Beard would be the perfect guest will stop. Contrary to caricature, he is rather affectionate about the BBC and spoke warmly of numerous figures in its senior management. But he’s enjoying freedom from the diktats of the corporation’s editorial policy department. (“Amazon’s on the internet, and people fuck horses on the internet, so anything less than that is bound to be all right.”)