A new documentary on Jeremy Clarkson and the various controversies he’s been embroiled in throughout his career has taken viewers behind the scenes of the moment he got into a fight with Piers Morgan.
In recent weeks, the Clarkson’s Farm presenter has received heavy backlash over a vile column he wrote about Meghan Markle, which became the most complained-about article in history at Ipso (Independent Press Standards Organisation).
Having said that he ‘hated’ the Duchess of Sussex ‘on a cellular level’ and that he ‘dreamt’ of her being ‘made to parade naked through the streets’, he later issued an apology, saying that he was ‘mortified’ – but the duke and duchess lambasted his ‘pattern of spreading hate rhetoric’ in response.
The 62-year-old has found himself in hot water at several different points over the years, and made headlines in 2004 when he confronted Morgan, now 57, at the British Press Awards in London.
As detailed in the new Channel 5 documentary, titled Jeremy Clarkson: King Of Controversy, the pair’s feud seemingly began in 2003, when Clarkson poured a glass of water over Morgan’s head, who was the editor of the Daily Mirror at the time.
In the programme, Ken Gibson, former motoring editor at The Sun, recalled being at the award ceremony with Clarkson.
‘It was the British Press Awards, so the Oscars of the British media in London. Everyone was there, every editor, every top journalist, every top photographer,’ Gibson said.
‘Jeremy and I had been nominated for the – shortlisted for motoring journalist of the year, so we were sitting on The Sun table. Piers was there as editor of The Mirror.’
Broadcaster Jeremy Vine also appeared in the documentary, describing Clarkson and Morgan as being like ‘matter and antimatter’.
‘They’re both very, very big personalities, and when they collide, it’s going to go off,’ he said.
Gibson explained that The Daily Mirror had published some stories ‘which had clearly caused a great deal of anguish among the Clarkson family’.
‘Jeremy went off to go to the loo, and I was walking just behind him, and then he bumped into Piers,’ he recollected.
‘Jeremy told Piers not to write about his family. He didn’t mind being criticised about work, or anything else. Piers more or less said that comes with the territory. They then followed a little session of finger prodding of each other’s chests, where they were asking, “What are you going to do about it?”’
Archival footage of an interview between Clarkson and Michael Parkinson was then shown, in which the former outlined how he’d punched Morgan, saying that it was the first time he’d ‘ever hit anybody ever’, with the former Top Gear presenter also displaying his ‘busted’ finger.
A clip was also shown of Morgan at an Oxford Union Society talk in 2015, where he said: ‘My exact words when the third blow crunched into my head were, “Is that it? My three-year-old hits me harder than that.”’
Gibson said that in the moment, he tried to calm the situation, telling the rivals: ‘I actually just said to them, “See how many cameras there are? See how many journalists? You’re going to end up on the front pages for all of the reasons. You need to grow up and just go back to your seats now and sit down.”’
After 10 years of feuding, Clarkson and Morgan came to a peaceful resolution, with the latter saying in footage that he’d ‘made up’ with Clarkson by going to his local pub and getting ‘absolutely wrecked’.
In 2020, Morgan spoke out about their truce on Good Morning Britain after he was punched ‘three times in the head’ years earlier at the media awards ceremony, saying: ‘We had a big night out at my local pub where we drank ourselves into oblivion and declared peace after a 10-year feud.’
Jeremy Clarkson: King Of Controversy airs tonight on Channel 5 and My5 at 9pm.
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