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Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson suspended by BBC over 'fracas'
Jeremy Clarkson's BBC career is hanging in the balance after he was suspended from Top Gear for allegedly throwing a punch at a producer.
Clarkson, 54, was put on a final warning by BBC bosses last year following a racism row in which he appeared to use the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during the show's filming.
However, the BBC confirmed he has been suspended pending an investigation following a "fracas" with a male producer.
The BBC also confirmed that Top Gear would not air on Sunday in the UK and doubt hangs over whether the further two remaining episodes of this year's season will go ahead.
A BBC spokesman said: "Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation.
s (from left) Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May. Photo / supplied
"No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time."
The delay won't affect New Zealand's Top Gear schedule, TV3 says, as they are approximately a month behind the UK.
The identity of the BBC producer is not yet known although theRadio Times reports that Clarkson "aimed a punch at a male producer".
The magazine claims the alleged incident took place last week but was only reported to the BBC yesterday.
Fans have already launched a petition to bring Clarkson back to Top Gear. It has 14,000 signatures.
Clarkson, and his co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, joked about the suspension on Twitter.
In recent years 54-year-old Clarkson has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code by watchdog Ofcom after comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces.
He previously faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as 'selfish'.
And he had to apologise for telling BBC1's The One Show that striking workers should be shot.
Clarkson has been the centre of multiple scandals in recent years. Photo / AP
Last year, the show was censored by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a "racial" term during the programme's Burma special, which had aired in March last year.
The year ended with the motoring show's crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.
But each episode in the two-part Christmas special attracted more than seven million viewers last year, with a further three million for each episode on iPlayer.
The latest episode was set to feature the trio - Clarkson with Richard Hammond and James May - getting to grips with classic cars such as a Fiat 124 Spider, an MGB GT and a Peugeot 304 Cabriolet.
They were set to take to the road and end up at a classic track day, while Gary Lineker was the "star in a reasonably priced car".
Top Gear's executive producer Andy Wilman described last year as "an annus horribilis" for the show after the claims of racism and the near-riot in Argentina.
Clarkson has so far remained silent about the suspension on his Twitter feed.
His last tweets were on Sunday, when he wrote: "It's an old skool Top Gear tonight. Nobody falls over and no-one is fired by canon into a hospital. I'd watch something else frankly."
And he added: "God. Crufts is good."
Clarkson's controversies over the years:
2003: Jeremy Clarkson drives a pick-up into a horse chestnut tree in a car park in Somerset, to test the strength of a Toyota. The BBC apologised to the parish council.
2008: Clarkson makes a joke during an episode about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, which attracts more than 1000 complaints to the BBC.
2010: Jokes made during the show about Mexicans, which included them being branded "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent", spark controversy and prompt an apology from the BBC to the Mexican ambassador.
2011: During a 90-minute India special a car fitted with a toilet in the boot is described by Clarkson as "perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots".
2012: Clarkson is found to have breached BBC guidelines by comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces.
2014: Clarkson was embroiled in controversy when it was claimed he used the N-word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during filming.
2014: Top Gear is ruled to have breached broadcasting rules after Clarkson used the word "slope" to describe an Asian man.
2014: Top Gear crew is forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982.