Dishevelled Jeremy Clarkson returns to ITV after filming was thrown into chaos when stars refused to work with him following his controversial Meghan Markle column
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Jeremy Clarkson looked barely recognisable as he was seen for the first time since publishing his controversial column about the Duchess of Sussex.
It was claimed last week that a celebrity episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? had to be shelved after three female stars refused to work alongside him in the wake of the controversy.
Yet Clarkson, 62, looked in good spirits as he headed to film the regular version of the ITV quiz show in Manchester on Thursday.
The broadcaster flashed a smile as he stepped out of his vehicle and made his way into the studio.
He had grown out his grey curly locks and was sporting a beard while his shirt was left unbuttoned and untucked.
Out and about: Jeremy Clarkson looked unrecognisable in Manchester on Thursday – his first sighting since publishing his controversial column about the Duchess of Sussex
Moving on: It was claimed that a celebrity episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? had to be shelved after three female stars refused to work alongside him in the wake of the controversy
He paired the garment with a navy jacket and finished off the look with bootcut jeans, brown boots and a satchel.
His return to filming comes after he was left battling to save his career amid the fallout from his column, with both ITV and Amazon hinting at dropping the former Top Gear star.
In the article, published in The Sun, Clarkson wrote he dreamed of the Meghan Markle being forced to ‘parade naked’ through British towns, prompting a record-breaking 25,100 complaints to The Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The former Top Gear star, 62, later apologised admitting he had ‘put my foot in it’ and accepted his language was ‘disgraceful’ and that he was ‘profoundly sorry’. The Sun also apologised.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Sussex branded the article about his wife ‘horrific, hurtful and cruel’ and questions were raised about whether Clarkson would keep his lucrative deal with ITV.
It was claimed that three female stars refused to work alongside Clarkson during filming for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? throwing filming into chaos.
While the official line from ITV is that ‘scheduling issues’ delayed production of the highly anticipated special, The Mirror reports behind the scenes chaos prompted the decision.
A source said: ‘The feelings were made very loud, and very clear. Namely that they didn’t want to share a platform with Clarkson and, in doing so, risk being seen to legitimise his misogynistic comments.
New look: He had grown out his grey curly locks and was sporting a beard while his shirt was left unbuttoned and untucked
New look: Jeremy (pictured right in 2022) had grown out his hair and also grown a beard
‘They were appearing on the show to raise money for charity, and they were acutely aware that they didn’t want causes special to their heart to be caught up in any backlash. It was a no-brainer to be honest, they had to walk away.’
The women – all household names – reportedly hope to avoid being associated with the star.
The decision to delay filming of the special was first reported by the Daily Mail’s Alison Boshoff last month. Then, ITV had also put the decision down to scheduling conflicts.
Low-key: He donned a navy jacket and finished off the look with bootcut jeans, brown boots and a satchel
Struggle: His return to filming comes after he was left battling to save his career amid the fallout from his column, with both ITV and Amazon hinting at dropping the Top Gear star
The studio, crew and celebrities were all booked to attend the Dock 10 studio in Manchester and arrangements for the programmes – which would have raised money for charity – were finalised.
An email said: ‘Owing to some movement in the ITV schedules, we’re now unable to record the planned Celebrity specials until later this year.’
READ MORE: Sussexes’ reject Clarkson’s apology for column
Clarkson’s standard edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? will begin filming this month – a contractual obligation on behalf of the network.
But ITV bosses have said they have no ‘commitment’ to further editions beyond the upcoming already commissioned series.
Clarkson is thought to be paid about £3 million a year to present the hit quiz show, having taken over from Chris Tarrant in 2018.
Fans had feared he was being ‘cancelled’ after it was reported that Amazon Prime was set to stop producing the presenter’s shows – Clarkson’s Farm and The Grand Tour – next year, the latter of which earns him at least £10million annually.
After he received public backlash for his controversial column, wrote to the Sussexes to apologise on Christmas Day – although the couple later claimed his letter only addressed Harry directly.
He later shared a lengthy public apology on his Instagram account.
Critics at the time branded the presenter’s contrition insincere, accusing him of failing to address the offence caused by his column and of being motivated by his own lucrative career interests.
Opinions were just as divided online, with supporters of Clarkson blasting ‘woke’ TV executives for ‘cancelling’ the star. Several claimed they had ended their Amazon Prime subscriptions in protest.
Struggle: The decision to delay filming of the special was first reported by the Daily Mail’s Alison Boshoff last month. Then, ITV had also put the decision down to scheduling conflicts
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