Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Jeremy Clarkson is the star of Amazon Prime series Clarkson’s Farm and hosts Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? for ITV
Comments made by Jeremy Clarkson about the Duchess of Sussex in a column for the Sun have been described as “awful” by ITV’s media and entertainment boss.
Kevin Lygo said there were no plans “at the moment” to replace him as host of gameshow Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
He said Mr Clarkson’s comments did not represent ITV’s values.
More than 20,000 complaints have been made to the press regulator after Clarkson wrote on Friday that he “hated [Meghan] on a cellular level”.
The column has now been removed from the Sun’s website, at Clarkson’s request, and replaced with a tweet in which he says he is “horrified” after “causing so much hurt”.
In his message to followers, posted on Monday, he described a reference he made to a scene in Game of Thrones as “clumsy”.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London on Tuesday, Mr Lygo said he had “no control” over what Mr Clarkson wrote in his newspaper columns.
“We hire him as a consummate broadcaster of the most famous quiz on television, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” he said.
“So it’s not quite in our wheelhouse but I don’t know what he was thinking when he wrote that. It was awful.”
Calls for apology
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes has written to Sun editor Victoria Newton calling for action to be taken against Mr Clarkson, and for an “unreserved apology” to be issued to the duchess.
The letter has been signed by more than 60 MPs.
SNP MP John Nicolson, who sits on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has written to chief executive of ITV Dame Carolyn McCall asking for Mr Clarkson to be removed as a host of the quiz show.
Mr Nicolson said he had also written to Amazon, which broadcasts Clarkson’s Farm and The Grand Tour, where the presenter appears alongside James May and Richard Hammond.
In a call to Shelagh Fogarty’s Monday show on LBC, the mother of late television presenter Caroline Flack condemned the comments.
Responding to Mr Clarkson saying he would like to see the duchess humiliated, Christine Flack said it had “upset her so much that Jeremy Clarkson was not only allowed to think that but to put it in print”.
Caroline Flack’s death in February 2020 was ruled a suicide by the coroner.
An inquest in August 2020 heard “her trauma was played out in the national press” and that was “incredibly distressing for her.”
Writing in his original column, Clarkson said: “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she [Meghan] is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.
“Everyone who’s my age thinks the same way,” he added. “But what makes me despair is that younger people, especially girls, think she’s pretty cool. They think she was a prisoner of Buckingham Palace, forced to talk about nothing but embroidery and kittens.”
His column followed the release of the last three episodes of Netflix’s docuseries Harry & Meghan on Thursday.