Alastair Campbell finally meets his match as he is roundly booed by Top Gear audience

By Nicola Boden
Last updated at 3:52 AM on 6th July 2010


As Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell made a name for himself dishing the dirt on his political foes and rounding on any critics of New Labour. 

Even in 'retirement', he managed to enrage Sky News Political Editor Adam Boulton on live TV and apparently scare the new Government into pulling out of Question Time.

But on Top Gear last night, Campbell appeared to meet his match - and not in the form of outspoken host Jeremy Clarkson who is known for his Right-wing views.

Appearing in the 'star in a reasonably priced car' slot, the ex-spin doctor was roundly booed as he walked through the studio audience.

Looking uncomfortable, the top Labour figure - who also advised Gordon Brown in the last election - turned on the hecklers saying: 'Come on then, come on then'.

Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell

Uncomfortable: Alastair Campbell purses his lips as he is quizzed by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. He was booed by the audience when he walked in

Light grilling: Campbell and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson chat

Light grilling: Campbell and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson chat

Clarkson joked he had walked into a 'den of lions' before admitting he had been concerned about the interview because of their clashing political views.

Campbell worked for Mr Blair from 1994 until 2003, and was at the heart of the New Labour project. 

TV star Clarkson, meanwhile, is known for his strong views on everything from motorway bus lanes to global warming and writes a column in The Sun.


Media watchdog Ofcom today rejected complaints over a live TV clash between Alastair Campbell and Sky News political editor Adam Boulton.

More than 1,100 people complained about the pair's row on May 10, as they discussed coalition options days after the general election.

Boulton became furious when Campbell accused him of wanting David Cameron to become PM and angrily rejected the suggestion he had been biased.

Ofcom dismissed the complaints and appeared to side with the journalist. 'We noted that this was a heated exchange by two well-known figures who would have been used to the cut and thrust of political debate,' the watchdog said.

'First, given that Alastair Campbell had effectively accused Sky News's political editor of wanting a Conservative prime minister, we consider that it was not unreasonable, and within the requirements of due impartiality, for Adam Boulton to defend his position.

'Adam Boulton did become visibly angry - but that does not, in itself, impact on the due impartiality of the content.'

Campbell, 53, was on the hit BBC show to promote the updated version of his diaries Prelude to Power about the rise of New Labour in the 90s.

Initially, Clarkson tried to put him at his ease - asking him about his favourite colour (answer - claret and blue) and star sign (gemini).

Although the chat inevitably steered onto politics, the host steered clear of an all-out row with Campbell and mostly kept it lightweight. 

Earlier last week, the ex-spin doctor had asked people on Twitter how to handle Clarkson and was told to ask him who he voted for.

The presenter refused to be drawn - although Campbell guessed Tory - and the two promptly argued about the election result.

Campbell insisted David Cameron had not won. 'He's the Prime Minister but he needs little Cleggo', he said in a jibe at the coalition.

On this at least, Clarkson agreed - saying: 'He needs the Teaboy, I agree'.

Later, during his lap, Campbell made another dig at the Deputy Prime Minister. 'Nick Clegg should do this because he hasn't got an awful lot to do,' he said.

He ended up completing the route in 1.47 - making him the second fastest driver of the series so far behind Dragons Den panellist Peter Jones.

Campbell was delighted to beat BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, who did it in 1.49.9 in the first episode last week.

At speed: Campbell on the track, which he completed in 1 minute 47

At speed: Campbell on the track, which he completed in 1 minute 47 seconds

In his blog today, he admitted he had only gone on the show to try to sell his book to 'middle England petrolheads' and said much of the interview had been cut.

The exchange had covered global warming, gay rights and his live TV row with Sky political editor Adam Boulton but this was all edited out, he revealed.

The pair also touched on Gordon Brown and the 'Bigotgage' row and Clarkson was asked if he voted BNP - to which he gave no answer, Campbell said.

He called on the public to push the BBC to release the interview in full - although he admitted it had been edited 'perfectly fairly'.

And he even seemed to have become a reluctant fan of the show's host, admitting the audience loved him and that he was was a master at the 'banter' required.

'Top Gear is a phenomenon. I am glad I went on it. I think Clarkson has many obnoxious views but he has a charm that takes him a long way,' he said.

The BBC has previously come under fire for the amount of publicity it gives to Campbell.

He appeared on Question Time two months ago as Labour's spokesman despite not being an elected representative of the party.

And in 2008, there was anger at the level of coverage he was given when publicising the earlier version of his diaries.

The corporation was accused of pandering to him by spending £300,000 televising the books.



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Who does this lowlife think he is?

Click to rate     Rating   1049

I look forward to ambling past the book in my local pound store in the not too distant future.

Anyone who buys it and enriches this psycho/sociopath needs their head looking at.

Mind you, he might burst into tears, hold his breath and stamp his feet if we don't buy it.

Then we'll be sorry.

Click to rate     Rating   784

Well the BBC would love the man, wouldn't they?
Sooner they are privatised the better.

Click to rate     Rating   670

Clarkson was asked if he voted BNP - to which he gave no answer, Campbell said.

Typical smear tactics from Campbell - why is the BBC fixated with this unpleasant individual?

Click to rate     Rating   862

"'Top Gear is a phenomenon. I am glad I went on it. I think Clarkson has many obnoxious views but he has a charm that takes him a long way,' he said."

Campbell has obnoxious views but lacks Clarkson's charm and additionally tells lies for disgusting ZaNuLieBor politicians!

Click to rate     Rating   700

How on earth Clive Woodward could have recruited Blair's pet weasel to join the England Rugby Union party which toured New Zealand in 2005 and attempt to use him as "motivator" is totally beyond me. I don't think I'll ever forgive Woodward for that.

Click to rate     Rating   549

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Your name and location will appear next to your comment.
You have 1000 characters left.
We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our House Rules.
For information about privacy and cookies please read our Privacy Policy.