Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson has said that the BBC should not have sacked Jeremy Clarkson, because he was someone they could not afford to lose. While Thompson admitted Clarkson often rubs people the wrong way, he said that the presenter attracted viewers to the BBC who didn't find anything else for them on the station.

Jeremy ClarksonMark Thompson thinks Jeremy Clarkson should never have been fired by the BBC

Speaking to The Sunday Times Thompson said: “Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend. I don’t think people should punch their colleagues. It’s hard to keep them if they do."

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"But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose. He spoke to people who didn’t find much else in the BBC. The fact no one ever quite believed the BBC allowed ‘Top Gear’ to go out was a precious thing to hang on to.”

Clarkson was fired as the host of motoring series ‘Top Gear’ last March after a “fracas” in which he hit one of the show’s producers in a hotel. He was later replaced by Chris Evans as the show’s host, but fans and critics didn’t take to the new presenter.

Thompson also recalled an incident in 2009 when Clarkson refused to apologise for calling then Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot”. He said that Clarkson had called him up unexpectedly to tell him: “‘I won’t apologise. I don’t care what you say, I won’t.”

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“I said, ‘Er, why would I want I want you to apologise?’” Thompson recalled. “He told me that he’d just called Gordon Brown, who was then prime minister, a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’ and a ‘c***’. We agreed that he would apologise for calling him ‘one-eyed’.”