Viewing figures will shoot up when this all blows over

COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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So it looks like Jeremy Clarkson is not untouchable after all.

But I’m wondering if the BBC really was shocked at the response to his suspension after it said he was involved in a ‘fracas’ with one of Top Gear’s producers, Oisin Tymon?

Love him or hate him, Clarkson is a national treasure to many

As the online petition to re-instate Clarkson gathers pace (more than 350,000 have added their names as I write this), the words ‘publicity stunt’ run through my mind.

Tweets from the three Top Gear presenters have bounced backwards and forwards, suggesting what shows are screened instead (because Top Gear will not be shown on Sunday, while it is understood the two final episodes in the series will also be dropped).

James May wants a black-and-white war film, while Richard Hammond seems to prefer Last Of The Summer Wine.

Captain Slow, as May is known, suggested we save empty cardboard boxes and pieces of string as they are more useful than Clarkson and less of a drain on the licence fee.

It has even been suggested that Chris Evans, a big car enthusiast, is being lined up to replace Clarkson.

As Clarkson’s daughter begs the BBC to change its mind and take him back because he has started cooking, the lighthearted nature of these tweets shows the lack of seriousness devoted to the whole situation.

Top Gear is a big earner for the Beeb and main presenter Clarkson is one of its most valuable commodities.

I suggested a couple of weeks ago the show was losing its edge and now maybe the BBC bosses agree.

Is ‘Clarksongate’ a way of keeping the show on everyone’s radar?

I’m wondering if the producers fancy bringing in guest presenters, similar to when Have I Got News For You host Angus Deayton was dropped amid allegations about his private life.

For me, one thing is for certain. Love him or hate him, Clarkson is a national treasure to many.

I do believe that, on Top Gear, he is irreplaceable. If he goes, the show goes.

But expect the audience to be huge when it returns after this has all blown over.