Jeremy Clarkson has been seen at tonight’s Bahrain Grand Prix to watch his ‘first Formula 1 race in years’ as questions continue over his future as host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
The TV presenter denied he had been sacked last week after reports ITV were lining up people to replace him as host of the popular quiz show, with names including Warwick Davis, Victoria Coren Mitchell and Sandi Toksvig being tipped.
And while the network also denied this, ITV boss Carolyn McCall said that it has ‘no future commitments’ to Clarkson following this season of the programme.
It came after the furore over the outspoken host’s comments about Meghan Markle in a column in December, during which he said he dreamed of her being paraded ‘naked through the streets’ while people throw ‘lumps of excrement at her’.
But these troubles seemed far from his mind as he appeared in a good mood at the Formula 1 in the Middle East today, where he said he was excited to be back.
Jeremy Clarkson, pictured here with members of the Alpine F1 team, appeared in a good mood at the Bahrain Grand Prix today
The TV presenter told Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle it was the ‘first Formula 1 race I’ve been to for years’ and he was excited to be back
Speaking to Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle, Clarkson said it was the ‘first Formula 1 race I’ve been to for years’.
He said: ‘It’s just so fantastic to be back. I adore Formula 1. It was infuriating for years and years and now it’s back because they can follow one another and the aerodynamics are so much better.
‘My daughter is now a really big fan so I can talk to her about it. I can’t believe how big [the cars] have got! I’m just fizzing with excitement over it all.’
The 62-year-old was reluctant to play favourites though when asked who he was rooting for to win the race.
He said: ‘It’s not like football, you don’t have a team. I like Alfa Romeos, always have done. Alpine are my local team in Chipping Norton so I root for them a little bit.
‘I’m friends with a bunch of people at Red Bull and I’m here with Salman [the crown prince of Bahrain]. I don’t know. But Max [Verstappen] is going to win the race. Who will be second? That’s the question.’
His public appearance comes days after reports ITV was eyeing up celebrities to replace him as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? with bookies William Hill listing odds for more than 10 television personalities.
But Clarkson took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to deny the claims, writing: ‘I have not been sacked as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’
Jeremy Clarkson with Charles Gordon-Lennox, Duke of Richmond on the grid in Bahrain
The Clarkson’s Farm presenter suffered a backlash after a column he wrote in which he said he ‘hated’ Meghan Markle (pictured here with her husband Prince Harry)
Jonathan Wheatley of Great Britain and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Jeremy Clarkson talk before the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain
The former Top Gear host sparked a backlash after fantasising in a newspaper column about the Duchess of Sussex being paraded through the streets naked while people threw ‘excrement’ at her, in an apparent reference to a public shaming scene from the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.
It prompted the Press watchdog IPSO to investigate the column and sparked speculation that Clarkson’s hit shows on Amazon Prime had been pulled after bosses at the streaming service were reportedly left ‘incandescent’.
His fans then feared he was being ‘cancelled’ after ITV failed to confirm whether or not he would continue as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
ITV boss Carolyn McCall – whom Piers Morgan previously claimed forced him out of Good Morning Britain – seemed to confirm that Clarkson will not continue in his post beyond the next series, which has already been recorded.
‘We have a contract. We’re contracted to this [season], so we will do that,’ said Ms McCall to Variety magazine, adding: ‘And then we have no future commitments.’
Speaking of Clarkson’s column about Meghan, she added: ‘We don’t endorse that in any way… there’s no place for that on ITV.’
Last week an ITV spokesperson said: ‘As we have said for several weeks, ITV is contractually committed to a further series of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (which has now been recorded.)
‘There are no further commissioning commitments beyond that currently as is typical with such shows where we make commissioning decisions on a series by series basis.
‘Therefore for the avoidance of doubt neither Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? nor Jeremy Clarkson have been cancelled.’
Clarkson tweeted shortly afterwards: ‘So many kind messages about today’s reports. But relax. Lisa and I have not split up and I have not been sacked as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’