CAR dealers in Portsmouth have argued Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson may be too big to axe, following his suspension over allegations he punched a producer.
BBC News has also reported it ‘understood’ the final three episodes of the series would not be broadcast in the wake of what the corporation has officially described as a ‘fracas’ between the pair.
Thom Cullen, marketing manager for Richmond Hyundai, in Fitzherbert Road, Portsmouth, said the 54-year-old presenter is too integral to Top Gear.
He said: ‘I don’t think they will get rid of him. He pretty much makes the show - he is bigger than the show.
‘It is his brand, even though the BBC owns it, he is the brand around the world.
‘Even if he did have a fracas, he would still have a job. Worst case scenario and they end his contract - they would try their best to carry on, but I don’t think it would be the same.’
Mark Battye, owner of Trojan Cars, in Francis Avenue, Southsea, agreed it would be hard to bin Clarkson.
‘Really, they should just carry on with it,’ he said. ‘But I guess it comes down to who is bigger - the BBC, or is he too big a part of the whole show.’
Mr Battye added that Clarkson may not have a defence, if the allegations are true.
He said: ‘If someone hits someone in the workplace, it is unacceptable. You can’t do that.
‘He hasn’t got a leg to stand on if he has hit him.’
An online petition calling for Clarkson’s reinstatement has already soared past 130,000 signatures.
Some readers took to The News’ Facebook page to post their messages of support for the motoring star.
Jim Morrison said: ‘Jeremy Clarkson is really cool and funny, leave Jezza alone! Top Gear is only good because Jezza, Hammond and May are the presenters.’
Debi Suffield added: ‘I personally think he brings a refreshing change to the TV, and at least he is honest, unlike many people on TV who sell their opinion for the highest bidder.’
However, other people on the Facebook page called for him to go, and said punching someone at work should be a sackable offence.
The producer involved in the alleged bust-up, said to have taken place after filming in Newcastle and over a lack of catering, has been named by the Daily Mirror as Oisin Tymon, 36.
Clarkson’s first public response to his suspension was a tweet issuing a mock apology to Ed Miliband, whose wife Justine gave an interview to the BBC.
He said: ‘Sorry Ed. It seems I knocked your ‘I’m a human’ piece down the news agenda.’
A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation.
‘No-one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.’