LOVE or loathe him, Jeremy Clarkson’s irreverence, humour and political incorrectness have won him a legion of fans.

Nothing could highlight his popularity more than the hundreds of thousands who signed an online petition calling for him not to be sacked following a fracas with a producer.

The BBC is investigating the alleged incident, which Mr Clarkson denies.

Putting this aside for one moment, I’d like to look at Mr Clarkson’s style.

He and his able team, James May and Richard Hammond, have turned Top Gear into one of the most successful television programmes in the world. It sells in more than 200 countries, bringing in about £50 million a year. A major attraction of the programme is the wonderful play between its three stars.

They are all perfect foils for each other, but it’s Mr Clarkson who holds the show together.

I met him once at Baroness Thatcher’s funeral and what you see on the screen is pretty much what you get in the flesh. He’s taller than you think and just as amusing.

Sadly, success has its detractors, and always will do. And one wonders what motivates whoever it was within the BBC to compare Mr Clarkson to paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Outside the organisation, those who I would term as the anti-offence-brigade are always waiting to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Events are blown out of all proportion and apologies demanded.

Nowhere is this more evident than in politics. It’s far too easy to be ‘offended’ today.

“Get used to it,” as one comedian shouted at his audience recently.

Mr Clarkson may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but has every right to present a programme in his style.

Finally, if he did assault a producer, he must face the music.

But that’s not the point I’m making here.