So we were all robbed of Top Gear this weekend because that dinosaur of broadcasting - the BBC - doesn't understand the very show it produces. Yes, Jeremy Clarkson shouted and swore at a producer. Maybe he hit him - that bit is still unclear. If I'd worked all day in the cold and rain, with the expectation of a hot meal at the end of it, I think I would have had the same reaction if the person who's job it was to arrange that meal had (for whatever reason) not done so. But for the BBC to react the way it has is symptomatic of a larger problem - they've had it in for Clarkson for a year or so now and they're looking at this as the golden opportunity to get rid of him.
The BBC demonstrably don't understand Top Gear. They said this weekend that it would survive without Clarkson. They indicated that Dancing With The Stars survived a change of host, and that was proof enough. The difference is - people don't watch a dancing show for the presenters - they watch it for the dancing. Top Gear's success hinges on the presenters as well as the cars. Proof of that can be seen in the failed Japanese, American and Australian versions of the show. Despite the same format and the same filming and editing quality, the 'talent' was just not there.
So what to do? The obvious choice would be for Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to abandon The Olde Worlde and offer their services to Sky or Netflix. The show wouldn't be called Top Gear but those of us who understand the show would follow them to wherever they end up. For sure, both of those companies would give an arm and a leg to have the hosts come to their networks, to the point where they stated this weekend that they would pay Hammond and May out of their contracts with the Beeb. The BBC claim that the three of them wouldn't have the freedom to do what they do now if they were beholden to a commercial TV station with advertisers to satisfy. Again - the BBC don't understand the power of Top Gear. Despite the idiocy of the show, manufacturers are clamouring to get their products on there. They know that any publicity is good publicity, even if three middle-aged farts hate the car.
The worst outcome could be that Top Gear is cancelled, and Clarkson, Hammond and May go their own ways never to do another motoring show. If that happens, we can all look back on this week as the week that the BBC demonstrated that they had no idea how to handle their single biggest intellectual propery. 350M viewers, 170 countres, magazines, DVDs, specials and all the other ancilliaries. Financially speaking, if Top Gear goes away, the BBC will have to shut down at least one of its other TV stations (likely BBC4) and at least one of its radio stations as it simply doesn't have the cashflow with TG out of the picture.