Noel Edmonds: BBC has shown ‘sheer incompetence’ over Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Deal or No Deal host says Top Gear presenter needed more support from management, adding that ‘the viewer is the casualty’

Former BBC presenter Noel Edmonds has criticised the corporation’s top executives for displaying “sheer incompetence” in managing Jeremy Clarkson.

The Deal or No Deal and former Top Gear host, who acrimoniously left the BBC after a 30-year career following a falling-out with management in the late 1990s, said the corporation needs to shoulder the lion’s share of the blame.

“The BBC have failed to manage one of the best talents on TV,” said Edmonds. “That is pointing the finger at [director of television] Danny Cohen, [director general] Tony Hall, whoever is in senior management has failed appallingly to give Clarkson the support that such a mercurial talent requires. One of the greatest errors of BBC management in the recent era has been inability to manage talent. Without talent, a very large part of BBC is worthless.”

Edmonds – who fronted a string of hit BBC shows including Noel’s House Party, as well as two seasons presenting Top Gear in the 1980s – said the hit BBC2 motoring show should not have been pulled from TV schedules.

“You have to laugh at the sheer incompetence of BBC management,” he said. “Here is a hugely popular production, arguably one of the BBC’s most valuable productions, which is apparently being pulled from the schedule because of one of the presenters [being] involved in an incident. Top Gear has multiple hosts and it is not as if the whole show is live and the content is created on a single day. So why not just re-edit what they have got and let the other two presenters continue? I find BBC’s position extraordinary in that on the one hand they say that Clarkson is not bigger than the BBC but on other hand they pull the show which rather suggests he is”.

Edmonds said that if the BBC did not air the show, it would be a decision that is “punishing the viewer”.

Noel Edmonds presented two seasons of Top Gear in the early 1980s

“Over the last 20 years of appalling BBC management, viewers have come second in the BBC agenda,” he said. “We have seen this in executive pay, decisions on expansion of the organisation and the recent discussion about closing some parts of the BBC … There used to be an old saying that if you are employed by the BBC, you are never bigger than smallest part of the corporation. Now it appears to be the case that you are no bigger than the smallest part of the management. The viewer is yet again losing out. The viewer is the casualty.”

In March, Edmonds revealed that he and a group of investors wanted to buy the corporation and run it as a private enterprise, saying that a renewal of the licence fee agreement would be “as futile as giving medicine to a corpse”.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Mark Sweney, for theguardian.com on Thursday 12th March 2015 13.17 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010