Jeremy Clarkson is set to remain the host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ‘for now’ despite his ‘terrible’ comments about the Duchess of Sussex, an ITV boss has said.
The former Top Gear presenter suffered a public backlash after writing in The Sun that she was ‘dreaming of the day when she (the Duchess) will be forced to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain as crowds sing’ Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.” She added, “Everyone my age feels the same way.”
The Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO) said the story had generated more complaints than any other, surpassing 20,800 by 5pm on Tuesday.
In response to the article, Kevin Lygo, chief executive of ITV Studios, said: ‘I’d say what he writes in a newspaper column… We have no control over what he says. We hire him as an expert host of television’s most famous quiz show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
“So it’s not really in our wheelhouse, but I don’t know what he was thinking when he wrote that. It was terrible.”
When asked whether ITV would retain Clarkson as presenter of the quiz show, Mr Lygo added: “Yes, at the moment we are.”
MPs call for ‘definitive action’
It comes after dozens of MPs called on The Sun to “take action” against Clarkson for his column.
As the backlash mounted, 65 MPs, led by Caroline Nokes, Tory chair of the Select Committee on Women and Equality, wrote an open letter to Victoria Newton, the editor of The Sun, in which they said: ” Enough is enough.”
The letter was signed by 54 female and 11 male MPs. Signatories included Harriet Harman, the former interim Labor leader, and Andrea Leadsom, a senior Conservative backbencher who has held a number of government jobs.
They wrote: “We are horrified by Jeremy Clarkson’s recent article in your publication. As MPs on all sides, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent misogynistic language directed against the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
“This kind of language has no place in our country and it is unacceptable that it has been allowed to appear in a mainstream newspaper.”
MPs said “hateful articles” such as Clarkson’s column “do not exist in a vacuum” and “directly contribute” to threats such as those previously received by the Duchess.
They concluded: “Enough. We can no longer allow this type of behavior to go unchecked. We welcome the withdrawal of the article by The Sun, we are now calling for action to be taken against Mr Clarkson and for an immediate and unqualified apology to be issued to Ms Markle.
“We also call for definitive action to be taken to ensure that no article like this is ever published again.”
The Duchess of Sussex is unlikely to act
Despite the protests, the Duchess is deemed unlikely to act on her own, having become all too familiar with hurtful personal comments.
In March 2021, he personally contacted ITV to warn that Piers Morgan’s dismissive attitude towards his Oprah Winfrey interview could prove harmful to others suffering from mental health issues. Morgan was subsequently sacked, but those close to the Duchess note that hasn’t stopped him from repeating such rhetoric in public.
Writing on Twitter, Ms Nokes said:
The Sun’s website was updated on Monday evening to say, “In light of Jeremy Clarkson’s tweet, he has asked us to delete last week’s column.”
Mr Clarkson wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified at causing so much pain”, saying:
When asked about the backlash during a visit to Riga, Latvia, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, said that “for everyone in public life, language matters”.