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Friday, 22 January, 1999, 02:57 GMT
Clarkson slips out of Top Gear
Top Gear logo
Jeremy Clarkson, the high priest of laddishness, is to quit Top Gear after nine years.

The presenter, famous for his love of speed machines, has decided to give up presenting the BBC Two show and will devote his time to new projects.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson says he will be sad to leave Top Gear
Clarkson, 38, helped the programme to raise viewing figures from several hundred thousand to more than six million.

No shrinking violet

His outspoken and opinionated manner makes him the sort of presenter the public either loves or hates but finds it hard to ignore.

Clarkson's vicious tongue has produced several gems:

  • On the ugliness of the Ford Scorpio: "We spent most of the time filming it from the back so as not to frighten viewers."

  • On the Vauxhall Vectra: "I have to fill seven minutes with a car that doesn't merit seven seconds."

  • When he described the Toyota Corolla as "dull" the company banned him from test driving their cars.

    Since reaching prominence he has branched out, writing a newspaper column and presenting documentaries about boats and planes - and hosting a chat show.

    Other irons in the fire

    He has also been holding talks with BBC bosses about making other programmes.

    The BBC said Clarkson might still return to Top Gear occasionally but the show will be seeking to replace him as principal presenter.

    Clarkson told The Sun: "It has been my life and I'm very sad but I decided it was time for a change.

    "I've been lying awake thinking about it ever since I made the decision. It's a very big move to take. But I'd taken Top Gear as far as I could."

    Wheels make wealth

    He said his favourite memory was of spending a week in Italy test driving Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis.

    "I remember thinking life doesn't get much better than this for someone who loves cars," he said.

    Clarkson, a father-of-three, began his career as a local newspaper reporter but switched to car magazines before being chosen to present Top Gear in 1991.

    He now owns a home in Fulham, west London, as well as a mansion in the Cotswolds.

  • See also:

    26 Oct 98 | Entertainment
    Clarkson in the doghouse
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