Jeremy Clarkson dropped from BBC's Top Gear
British broadcaster decided not to renew popular presenter's contract
The BBC said on Wednesday it would not renew the contract of Jeremy Clarkson, the lead presenter of its popular motoring program Top Gear who was suspended after a "fracas" with a producer.
Clarkson, 54, who has generated both controversy and profits for Britain's publicly funded broadcaster, was already on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.
"It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract," Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, said in a statement.
Clarkson was suspended from the show last month while the BBC launched an investigation into a dispute that was said to have started over a meal. Clarkson reportedly launched into a verbal tirade against producer Oisin Tymon, before physically assaulting him.
"For me a line has been crossed," Hall continued. "There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations."
Despite Clarkson's absence, Hall indicated that the show would continue in 2016, but no mention was made of a possible replacement.
More than 1-million fans from around the world have backed a petition calling for Clarkson to be reinstated.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called Clarkson a friend and a "huge talent." Will Wyatt, a former director of BBC television, said Top Gear without Clarkson would be "a bit like the Musketeers without D'Artagnan."
History of controversy
Top Gear, which is aired in more than 200 countries, is one of the BBC's most profitable shows but its lead host, a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, has offended, among others, environmental groups, mental health charities and cyclists with his forthright manner.
Last October, the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina, two countries that went to war in 1982 over the Falkland islands.
A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL — which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict.
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press