BBC apologises to viewers for pulling Top Gear episodes
THE BBC has apologised to viewers who have complained about Top Gear episodes being postponed following Jeremy Clarkson's suspension.
The future of the motoring show, co-presented by Richard Hammond and James May, remains in purgatory as Clarkson and the corporation await the results of an investigation into an alleged "fracas" between the presenter and producer Oisin Tymon.
Clarkson, who denies that he threw a punch at Oisin in a row reportedly about a lack of hot food after a day's filming, has not apologised to fans for the incident.
He is also said to be "intensely relaxed" about the inquiry and is reported to be considering leaving the BBC even if cleared.
The presenter has, however, thanked his supporters - more than 800,000 of whom have signed a petition calling for his reinstatement, and who include Prime Minister David Cameron - telling BBC News: "I am very grateful to everybody."
The remaining three episodes of the current series of Top Gear have been postponed indefinitely and filming has been suspended.
The BBC said it had "received a wide range of feedback about this and some people have expressed their disappointment or have asked for more information".
It went on: "We do hope you'll understand that we value this reaction, but the investigation is still under way. Until more is known, we're therefore unable to say anything further in response and will not yet be making further statements about the issue.
"We realise you'll be disappointed that we can't respond to you in any more detail but thank you for contacting us."
The apology comes as more details of the corporations' inquiry into the incident between Clarkson and Oisin have emerged.
The BBC has reportedly not asked any of the staff at the Simonstone Hall Hotel near Hawes in North Yorkshire to give testimony at the investigation which is being led by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie.
Restaurant manager Robert Scott - who was on duty when the "fracas" occurred - said there had been no contact from the BBC about the inquiry.
"I do not know the BBC's processes, but I can say that I haven't been asked to give any evidence or attend their inquiry, and neither have any of the staff here," he told the Guardian. "They probably just want to keep it among the cast and crew."
Both Clarkson and Oisin are expected to give their accounts of the events early next week.
It has emerged that it was Clarkson himself who first reported the incident to Danny Cohen, the director of television, on Monday.
The star had reportedly been unhappy at being unable to order a steak at the luxury hotel where the crew were staying after filming.
The Sun and Mirror reported the hotel's chef had gone home by the time they arrived and the stars were offered cold meat platters, although the presenter requested a £21.95 steak.
Clarkson reportedly blamed Mr Tymon for not arranging hot food and described the incident as a "scuffle". The hotel's general manager then cooked the meal for the star, sources claimed.
The TV personality denies throwing a punch but is understood to have told friends that that there had been some "handbags and pushing" over the incident.
Today a family who also stayed at the hotel reported they had witnessed the "fracas".
The Ward family from Leeds were excited to be staying at the same hotel as the Top Gear presenters and staff but told Sky News they were shocked when they witnessed the internationally recognisable figure launched into an expletive-ridden tirade.
"He said he hadn't done his job properly, it was ridiculous that there was nothing to eat, obviously there was lots of expletives in between all this, and that he would be losing his job, he would see to it that he would lose his job," Sue Ward, 54, told a Sky News reporter
The family's claims appear to directly contradict reports last night that Clarkson felt there was "no bad blood" between the presenter and producer.
Last night Clarkson, who previously made light of the incident to reporters, joking he was "off to the job centre", changed his Twitter bio to "I am probably a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show, Top Gear".
Clarkson, who joined Top Gear in 1988, has been embroiled in controversy after controversy and marked himself out as a challenger of political correctness.
Last year alone, he apologised for using the racial slur "n*****" in an un-aired Top Gear segment, and almost sparked a riot in Argentina after he drove a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL, which was regarded as a deliberate reference to the Falklands War of 1982.
However, his departure from the programme would pose huge challenges for the BBC. It is also not yet clear whether the presenter has any non-compete clauses in his contract, which would restrict him entering into agreements with other broadcasters.