Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear row: Did it start over a steak?
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Jeremy Clarkson has given his biggest hint that he is ready to walk out on the BBC as witnesses revealed he was suspended after a ridiculous row over a steak.
The presenter is being threatened with the sack after an apparent "dust-up" with one of his producers, Oisin Tymon, over being offered only a "cold platter" for dinner at a luxury hotel.
According to a witness, Clarkson demanded a £21.95 sirloin steak from the restaurant menu after a long day of filming and became irate when he was told that the hotel's chef had gone home.
One said: "It was suggested he could have a cheese platter, a meat platter, soup, or another bar snack, but he was not having it."
The millionaire changed his Twitter profile to read "I am probably a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show Top Gear".
He was asked last night if he feared the sack and said: "Well it's coming, isn't it?"
Twenty-four hours ago his biography said: "I am a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show, Top Gear."
More than 700,000 fans have signed an online petition demanding the presenter be reinstated, and Prime Minister David Cameron has waded into the row, saying he hoped it could be 'sorted out' without the BBC sacking him.
Last night Mr Clarkson was seen venting his frustration at Chelsea's Champions League match and is likely to be hauled before the BBC's disciplinary panel by the end of the week.
The BBC launched an investigation into the incident on Tuesday, five days after the "fracas", and pulled the last three episodes of this series of Top Gear off air.
Stars including Gary Lineker, Keanu Reeves and Superman actor Henry Cavill were all due to film the "Star in a reasonably priced car" segment in the coming weeks but have been told these have been "postponed indefinitely".
The BBC could face a huge bill from the foreign broadcasters it sells the show to for failing to deliver a full series.
Last night sources at the BBC suggested that its director of TV, Danny Cohen, has seized on the incident as the reason he needs to oust the controversial figure.
Insiders have said that Mr Cohen, who will help decide Clarkson's fate, is "out to get" the star.
rector General Tony Hall has refused to speculate on Jeremy Clarkson's future and said the BBC's internal investigation would "get the people who are impacted by this together".
He said: "There is a lot of speculation, we have got to establish the facts and I intend to do that before we come to a final decision. That is what we are about to do."
The star has admitted there was "handbags and pushing" over the incident, which took place at Simonstone Hall Hotel in North Yorkshire, but denies claims that he punched Mr Tymon.
The production team had been scheduled to take a helicopter to their next location after filming, and return to the hotel at 8pm last Wednesday.
However, Clarkson kept the helicopter waiting for three hours while he sat in a pub drinking rose wine, Channel 4 reported.
Co-star James May said: "I have said many times before the man is a knob, but I quite like him. It's all getting a bit ridiculous."
Asked what he could remember about the row, May said: "Not very much, I was blind drunk."
Dinner service was cancelled by kitchen staff because the crew were two hours late. Clarkson is then understood to have become embroiled in a row about the dinner with Mr Tymon, whom he blamed for the mix-up.
One witness said Clarkson had wanted a sirloin steak with fondant potatoes, pan-fried wild mushrooms, grilled cherry tomatoes and pink peppercorn sauce for £21.95.
Instead he and the other BBC staff were offered a pre-prepared cold platter or something from the bar menu like soup of the day, which led to the presenter ranting: "So there's no food?," one onlooker said.
He told the Daily Mirror: "When they arrived after 10pm Clarkson got angry.
"We were surprised at his reaction because we were all thinking 'surely soup is food'."
"It was more like a scuffle. But he did swear using every bad word you could think of."
In the end the general manager cooked the Top Gear star a steak himself, which he ate in a private dining room.
The BBC had taken all 18 rooms at the hotel for a week, costing £5600, with Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond being given the suites and production crew getting the rest.
One worker told The Times: "When Jeremy Clarkson left he thanked us for a nice stay, and said, 'It's been really pleasant, apart from the obvious'. I would describe his behaviour as a child's tantrum rather than anything violent."
Director general Lord Hall said that he will have personal oversight of the investigation, and will decide what to do with Clarkson "based on the facts".
He said: "I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson but this is a serious thing that is alleged to have taken place."
Mr Cameron said yesterday: "He's a huge talent. Because he is such a huge talent and he amuses and entertains so many people, including my children, who'd be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air, I hope this can be sorted out."