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Jeremy Clarkson fired from Top Gear despite fan support

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(Read caption) Jeremy Clarkson leaves his home in London March 24, 2015. The BBC said Wednesday March 25, 2015 that it has decided not to renew the contract of the 'Top Gear' host.

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After years of controversial comments, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has finally reached the end of the road with the BBC. The network confirmed today that it will not renew Clarkson's contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month. That effectively brings an end to his BBC career and his stint as the host of the world's most popular car show.

BBC director general Tony Hall made the announcement, saying the decision was made after an investigation of the "fracas" involving Clarkson and a Top Gearproducer earlier this month. Clarkson was suspended after punching a producer while filming on location.

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In an investigation following the incident, BBC official Ken MacQuarrie confirmed that Clarkson hit producer Oisin Tymon and used "derogatory and abusive language." In his statement, Hall said that he took no pleasure in his decision, and considers himself a fan of Clarkson. He said the BBC needs "distinctive and different voices, but they cannot come at any price."

The final episodes of the current season of Top Gear were not aired while the investigation is ongoing. Since certain in-studio segments likely weren't filmed while Clarkson was suspended, it's unclear what will happen to them.

Clarkson's suspension sparked a massive outpouring of support from fans. A petition with over one million signatures was delivered to the BBC by a person dressed as The Stig riding an armored military vehicle. There was also the usual ugly spew of invectives at Clarkson's accusers online.

Clarkson has had many conflicts with network officials in the past, but two incidents last year are believed to have shortened their patience with him. During the Top Gear Burma Special, he appeared to use a derogatory term. An outtake video from another episode also showed him mumbling the "n-word" as part of the rhyme "Eenie, meeny, miny, mo." After that incident, Clarkson said the BBC would only allow him one more strike.

The BBC said it will continue Top Gear in 2016.

The contracts of co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May also expire at the end of this month. They were reportedly close to reaching a deal before Clarkson's suspension, but it's unclear whether they will return.