'Top Gear' Suspension: BBC Scrambles to Supply "Alternative Content" to Global Licensees
The U.K. broadcaster could get a bill from overseas broadcasters after canceling two episodes of the motoring show following host Jeremy Clarkson's suspension.
The fallout from Jeremy Clarkson's suspension from the BBC's hit motoring show Top Gear continues to spread.
Following reports that the divisive host was suspended March 10 after allegedly punching a producer, it has emerged that the BBC is now being forced to make contingency arrangements with its international partners.
With the next two episodes canceled and the final episode of the current season currently under review, BBC Worldwide, the public broadcaster's commercial arm, could face a major bill from the 214 countries where the show is licensed.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide said that it was working on "supplying international broadcast partners with alternative content."
THR has learned that it will offer two pieces of Top Gear programming that have not aired before.
There is also the matter of the money-spinning Top Gear Live events, a joint-venture between BBC Worldwide and U.K.-based company Brand Events. The live shows, which have traveled to 22 countries and have upcoming dates in Australia, Ireland and South Africa, feature appearances from Clarkson and his fellow presenters, James May and Richard Hammond.
In a statement, BBC Worldwide said it would "update everyone on the status of the Top Gear Live tour as soon as we're able to."
Meanwhile, Top Gear co-presenter May confirmed to the BBC that Clarkson had been involved in a "dustup" and that it had, as reported, been over the issue of catering. BBC director-general Tony Hall said that the investigation would "gather the facts" about the incident.
"We do not have the facts at the moment," he told BBC News. "I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson, but this is a serious thing that is alleged to have taken place."
An online petition to reinstate Clarkson, who despite a series of earlier controversies over alleged racist slurs remains a hugely popular figure in the U.K. and internationally, is nearing 500,000 signatures.