Is You-Know-Who Your Favourite Motoring Journalist?

Photo credit: Ged Carroll

Here’s a quick question for you; who is the greatest footballer of all time? Eh, what was that you said – Pele? Sorry, he doesn’t count as people are always talking about him. I know that he scored over a thousand goals and that most people see him as the best player of all time but you still can’t vote for him. Maradona, Cruyff and Messi are out as well just in case you were thinking of boring me with any more of the usual old suspects.

That might sound silly, but it is more or less what happened recently when a car leasing firm asked people to vote for their favourite motoring journalist. The only problem was that you couldn’t vote for Jeremy Clarkson, as the boss of the firm said he was fed up with him.

If only it was as simple to ignore the facts in the rest of life. Maybe if we eliminate enough people from the candidate’s list then I will get voted as the best chef of 2012, the top long distance swimmer of the decade and the most exciting newcomer in Jazz.

Presumably Clarkson was deliberately left out of the competition because the organisers suspected that he would win. After all, most of us would probably name him as the top motoring journalist around, wouldn’t we?

A Wide Range of Work

To start off with, his work to date has covered a huge range of areas, from the BBC’s Top Gear to The Sunday Times and from his own eponymous TV programme to articles in The Toronto Star and The Sun, along with earlier stints in local newspapers as he started his career. How many other motor industry personalities can claim to be able to successfully engage such a wide audience on a regular basis?

Jeremy Clarkson is, of course, best known for his unique presenting and writing style. You will perhaps see him described as hard hitting, humorous, controversial and opinionated but you will almost certainly not see him described as boring. Perhaps this is his biggest claim to fame.

It is easy to forget what motoring programmes were like before he got involved in Top Gear in the late 1980s. You were certainly less likely to see something which interested you than you are now. Unless you were interested in boring car parts and mind numbing technical details that is. Clarkson’s master stroke was to bring his provocative and attention grabbing style to an industry which had never seen anything quite like him before.

A Popular Guest

His knowledge of public affairs and his wit have seen him appear regularly on Question Time, Have I Got News For You and many other top shows. If there has been a particularly outstanding year in his career then 2007 could fit the bill. That year he won a Special Recognition Award from the National Television Awards. Even more excitingly, he and James May became the first people to drive to the magnetic North Pole that same year.

On a more personal level, Clarkson has realised that his powerful public persona can be put to good use. He has spoken out on both motoring matters (such as the London congestion charge) and environmental and political issues. You might not always agree with his controversial ideas and cutting commentaries on things like global warming and Barack Obama, but you certainly can’t ignore him. In fact, this is possibly the greatest thing he brings to modern journalism. In this day and age we are so used to faceless presenters and writers trotting out the same old party line that it is a shock to come across someone like Jeremy Clarkson who tells us what he thinks whether we want to hear it or not.

Clearly he hasn’t restricted himself to just working on motoring issues but most of us still think of him as a motoring journalist at heart. He is known to be a keen driver and has owned models from some of the most famous and prestigious makers in the world. Even when he talks about the many other subjects he is passionate about it is still clear that the world of motoring is where many of us love to see him.

Now what were the names of those other motoring journalists again?

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