So how's bachelor pad life, Jeremy? Bleary-eyed and unshaven Top Gear host celebrates his 18th wedding anniversary


  • Clarkson defends super injunctions as his marriage comes under more strain

For a man celebrating his 18th wedding anniversary, Jeremy Clarkson did not look in the most ebullient of moods yesterday morning.

Indeed, pulling up at the gates of his sprawling £2million estate deep in the Oxfordshire countryside near Chipping Norton in his £70,000 Range Rover Vogue, he looked unshaven and red-faced and was a little bleary eyed.

What on earth, you might ask, could account for such a world-weary expression on such a special occasion?

Back on the road: Clarkson was seen this morning leaving his home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire in a green Skoda

Back on the road: Clarkson was seen this morning leaving his home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire in a green Skoda

The presenter flashed a smile as he pulled away from his Oxfrodshire country home today

The presenter flashed a smile as he pulled away from his Oxfrodshire country home today

Dishevelled: Clarkson outside his country home

Dishevelled: Clarkson outside his country home

Surely it couldn’t be the strain of having to fend for himself – and do his own laundry – at his new bachelor pad in London?

Yes, barely a month after being accused of having an affair with an attractive blonde colleague while taking part in the lucrative Top Gear Live tour – and just days after more (false) Twitter allegations about a fling with Jemima Khan – Clarkson, 50, has got a place on his own in Bayswater, West London.

He used his regular newspaper column at the weekend to describe, in suitably hangdog tones, the tribulations of life without Mrs Clarkson.

The Top Gear presenter bemoaned his difficulties as an undomesticated male, with no mention of his loyal wife, Francie, 49, who also happens to be her husband’s manager and mentor.

‘When I moved recently into an unfurnished flat I spent the first evening sitting on the floor, wondering what is essential and what, really is not,’ he wrote. ‘Obviously I’d need a fridge and a cooker. But what about a dishwasher? Could I not wash the pots myself? I decided that I could.

Affair claims: Jeremy Clarkson with Phillipa Sage

Affair claims: Jeremy Clarkson with Phillipa Sage

‘I also decided that I could do without a washing machine. Though this is mostly because I’ve never used one. I don’t understand them. They seem to make no sense.

‘So no. I’d take my clothes to the launderette and let someone in a nylon overall wash them for me.’

Increasingly woebegone, he went on to describe how while he could do without a dishwasher and a washing machine, he would need a coffee machine, a television and a Playstation console, as well as internet access to avail himself of ‘some pornography’.

Not, it seems, that he succeeds. His column ends with his new coffee machine failing to deliver and no internet connection on his computer.

‘So if you do lose your job and you end up living in a barn with just a fire to keep you warm and nothing to eat but what you can find in a hedge, be happy,’ he wrote. ‘Because you’ll be having a much better life than me.’

18-year marriage: Pictured at a fundraiser with wife Frances

18-year marriage: Pictured at a fundraiser with wife Frances

All very curious. What could have driven the perennially bombastic star to such self-pitying reflections?

And where is Francie in this bachelor scene?

To be fair, Clarkson has long been known to spend time living alone in London during the week when juggling Top Gear’s hectic production schedule.

But according to a source close to the presenter, of late he has been spending more time away from home for ‘personal’ as well as professional reasons.

If this is, indeed, the case,  it would hardly be a surprise. Whatever the truth of the allegations about an extra-marital liaison, such revelations, coming as they did at the start of a family holiday to Barbados, would put the most resilient of marriages under pressure.

Last night, a friend told the Daily Mail: ‘The truth is, it is pretty strained.

Allegations: Claims that Clarkson had been having an affair with events organiser Phillipa Sage emerged just as the presenter and his wife settled under the Barbadian palm trees for their family holiday
Relaxing: After allegations of an extra-marital affair, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson and wife Frances were pictured on holiday in the Caribbean

Relaxing: Claims that Clarkson had been having an affair with Phillipa Sage emerged just as the presenter and his wife settled under the Barbadian palm trees for their family holiday

‘He has not moved out [from the family home] as far as I am aware and he is always at home Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. But I wouldn’t assume it’s great. He stays in his flat an awful lot.’

Clarkson and his wife are said to have mutually agreed on the arrangement that sees him spend parts of the week at the Bayswater flat, and weekends with Francie and their three children – two daughters aged 16 and 12, and a son aged 15 – in the Cotswolds.

Claims that Clarkson had been having an affair with events organiser Phillipa Sage, a 42-year-old single mother, first emerged early last month, just as the presenter and his wife settled under the Barbadian palm trees for their family holiday in the sun.

He was alleged to have spent several nights with Miss Sage as he and his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May toured Australia, South Africa and Norway earlier this year.

It was claimed that on one occasion in the small hours Clarkson was seen kissing Miss Sage on the lips in full view of observers, as well, on another occasion, as ‘feeding Phillipa lettuce with his fingers’ as they reclined by the pool.

Clarkson – who has found  himself batting off allegations  of extramarital encounters before – shrugged off the claims, insisting that he and Miss Sage  had been simply ‘colleagues fooling around’.

Nightmare: Jemima Khan said false internet claims about her and Clarkson were 'a bloody nightmare'
Nightmare: Jemima Khan said false internet claims about her and Clarkson, pictured with wife Frances, were 'a bloody nightmare'

Nightmare: Jemima Khan, left, said false internet claims about her and Clarkson, right with wife Frances, were 'a bloody nightmare'

Miss Sage, meanwhile, professed that she often spent the night with colleagues.

As if all that were not enough, last week Clarkson was the subject of yet more speculation – this time on Twitter, where he was named as one of the stars who had taken out super-injunctions to prevent publication of details about their private lives.

The message on Twitter wrongly claimed that intimate photographs existed of Clarkson  with none other than Jemima Khan. Even though the gossip was false, it was yet more unwelcome time in the spotlight for Clarkson, not to mention his wife and Mrs Khan.

Bizarre, then, that he should use another newspaper column yesterday to argue in favour of super-injunctions that protect cheating husbands.

Referring to the Khan Twitter allegation, he wrote: ‘Had I known about this story before midnight, would I have taken out an  injunction to stop it appearing? To protect my children? Yes. In  a heartbeat...

He added: 'It is said only the rich and famous can afford a gagging order. But only the rich and famous ever need one.'

‘I am not a saint,’ he continues later in the article. ‘And as I’m in the pay of the BBC – a publicly funded body – it might seem reasonable for newspapers to question some of my lifestyle choices.

‘But they wouldn’t question. They’d demand that I be sacked. They’d say I’d sparked fury and work themselves in to a frothing rage. That would alarm my family and that’s why I try to keep my private life private. It’s why I’m pro-injunction.’

Country pile and city bolthole: The Clarkson's Chipping Norton manor house (left) and Bayswater flat (right)
Country pile and city bolthole: The Clarkson's Chipping Norton manor house (left) and Bayswater flat (right)

From this ... to this: Clarkson's Chipping Norton manor house (left) and the Bayswater flat (right)

So how is Mrs Clarkson, a former recruitment consultant credited with encouraging her Doncaster-born husband to cultivate his aggressive on-screen persona, coping in the wake of such  lurid allegations?

On their recent Caribbean jaunt she appeared to spend much time alone. Back in Oxfordshire yesterday, Mrs Clarkson maintained a dignified silence as she left the gated estate in a sleek Aston Martin convertible, a male friend at her side, before returning to join her husband for lunch.

The couple were married in 1993, a year after Clarkson’s divorce from his first wife, Alexandra James, who has been conspicuously quiet throughout this whole sorry saga.

As for the man himself, despite his jaded appearance, Clarkson seemed on his usual bullish form.

‘It’s hysterical,’ he said sarcastically, returning to the house from taking one of his children out. ‘I live here. When Top Gear is in production for the last ten years, I tend to spend time in London. That’s the story.

‘Not in a boastful way, I own several properties in London and have done so for years. This has all been sparked from what I wrote in my column. I have never described it as a bachelor pad.

‘Where I live is nobody’s business, but to be absolutely clear I was here yesterday and the day before. It’s extremely important that you get it straight that I live with my wife.’

As for Miss Sage, he joked: ‘They said I fed a girl lettuce while I was in South Africa. They said I was drinking chardonnay. Do me a favour.’

Before driving off he said: ‘I’m going to go now, it’s my  wedding anniversary.’

Just 24 hours earlier Clarkson had spoken of going out for dinner with Francie and friends, adding boastfully: ‘And tomorrow we’ve got 25 people coming round for lunch. Life goes on.’

Yet curiously lunchtime came and went yesterday, with no sign of a flurry of guests – or indeed any, apart from Francie’s male friend – to the house at all.

Additional reporting: Ryan Kisiel and Paul Revoir

'PRETTY STRAINED': AFFAIR CLAIMS PUT MASSIVE PRESSURE ON CLARKSON'S MARRIAGE AS HE SPENDS TIME AT UNFURNISHED FLAT

Jeremy Clarkson’s marriage is said to be ‘strained’ after it was revealed that he is spending time during the week at an unfurnished flat.

The Top Gear presenter wrote a newspaper column on Saturday which provoked speculation that he had moved out of the family home. In it he spoke about recently moving into a flat and wondering what appliances he would need.

His comments were made only weeks after news came out of an alleged infidelity with Phillipa Sage, who worked with him on the Top Gear Live tour.

Denial: Clarkson, and sources close to him, denied he had left the family home in Oxfordshire

Denial: Clarkson, and sources close to him, denied he had left the family home in Oxfordshire

Yesterday Clarkson, 50 a father of three, and sources close to him denied he had quit the family home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

Friends said he has a flat in London which he uses when he is editing Top Gear. However, one suggested Clarkson is spending more time at the flat since the allegations of the affair with Miss Sage.

The source admitted the claims about an affair were still putting massive pressure on his marriage to wife Frances.

They said: ‘I wouldn’t assume it’s great. He stays in his flat an awful lot, especially when he is editing… It is pretty strained.’ But they added: ‘He is always at home Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and some of the early part of the week.’

Speaking outside the family home yesterday, Clarkson said he and his wife were preparing for a party to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary.

He added: ‘I live here. When Top Gear is in production ... I tend to spend time in London. That’s the story.’

He laughed off the allegations of an affair with Miss Sage but he refused to reveal whether the blonde single mother was still working on the upcoming series of Top Gear. ‘That’s nobody’s business and it doesn’t matter,’ he said.

Earlier, Mrs Clarkson had refused to comment on her marriage as she left the gated estate with a male friend in her Aston Martin convertible sports car.

But she told a Sunday newspaper: ‘Jeremy has bought a flat in London. He will spend a few nights a week there, as Top Gear is filmed in London.’

She added: ‘We are still together. He will be coming back here.’

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