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BBC silent on reports Jeremy Clarkson heading to Australia for rebranded Top Gear Festival

The Top Gear Festival website today

The BBC and organisers of the Top Gear Festival have declined to comment on reports Jeremy Clarkson will front a renamed version of the event in Sydney next month, despite being fired by the British broadcaster.

The future of the two-day festival was thrown into doubt last week after the BBC said it would not be renewing the contract of the presenter following his verbal and physical attack on a Top Gear producer, with co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond signalling they would exit with Clarkson.

Brand Events Australia, the company organising the event for the BBC, said in a statement on Friday the future of the show would be decided no later than this week after fans took to social media demanding refunds.

But the saga has taken another twist after The Sunday Mirror reported Clarkson has a separate deal for the live shows and was intending to travel to Australia along with Hammond and May to front the event. Other reports suggested the BBC is anxious for the live events to proceed to avoid refunds that could top £10 million (A$19.2m).

If the Sydney festival on April 18 and 19 at Eastern Creek does go ahead, it will likely be renamed to Clarkson, May and Hammond Live or MPH Live, according to the Mirror.

A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports this morning, telling Mumbrella “there was still no update” on what format the show would take or whether it would take place at all.

Later a statement issued by Brand Events Australia on behalf of the BBC said: “We would like to thank our ticket holders and fans for their continued patience.  We are still working through the implications of Jeremy’s contract not being renewed by the BBC. We will provide an update on the Festival in Sydney later this week.”

Last week sponsors told Mumbrella they had been “in discussions” with organisers over the future of the festival.

Festival director Chris Secker said discussions are continuing to take place between BBC Worldwide and Brand Events in the UK with an announcement likely towards the end the week.  He added: “We’re in regular contact with our sponsors and will continue to be as things develop, currently no sponsors have withdrawn from the event.”

Images of the Top Gear trio proclaiming “Jeremy, James and Richard together for the first time” are still featured on the Festival’s web page, and on the Ticketek website, the agency handling tickets for the event.

Ticketek is also continuing to promote a competition to win a “meet and greet” with the trio.

Tickets range from $49 for a general admission pass to $399 for a ‘Superfan’ pass.

Steve Jones

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