JEREMY Clarkson is alleged to have lashed out at a Top Gear producer because he was told he could not order a sirloin steak after a day of filming.
The 54-year-old was ravenous after arriving at his hotel at around 10pm last Wednesday night but lost his temper out after being told there was no hot food.
Clarkson told producer Oisin Tymon he fancied an 8oz sirloin with fondant potatoes, pan-fried wild mushrooms, grilled cherry tomatoes and peppercorn sauce.
But a "fracas" erupted when Tymon, 36, told him the kitchen was closed and suggested a platter of cold meats and cheeses instead.
Witnesses at Simonstone Hall Hotel in Hawes, North Yorkshire, near where the show was filming on location, told The Sun: "The staff knew the BBC crew were arriving late so they organised meat and cheese platters. The chef had already gone home.
"Clarkson didn't like the idea. He wanted his own way.
"The producer was being blamed. Clarkson didn't hit him - but he did use every possible swear word you can imagine. He had to be held back."
Another source, who said Clarkson had been drinking rosé wine, added: "It was more like a scuffle. The producer stood looking quiet and embarrassed.
"He was being blamed for not arranging hot food. The general manager ended up cooking for the presenters."
'Handbags and pushing'
Clarkson's co-stars were said to have looked on in shock as someone tried to calm the star, who eventually got his own way and tucked into a £21.95 ($42) 8oz cut in a private room.
The host has admitted there was "handbags and pushing" over the incident but denies claims that he punched Mr Tymon.
According to Channel 4, the production team had been scheduled to take a helicopter to the hotel at 8pm but Clarkson kept it waiting for hours while he sat in a pub.
The dinner service was cancelled by kitchen staff because the crew were two hours late.
The subsequent 'dust up' was not reported at first and the 15 crew members, Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond continued filming the following day.
On Wednesday, it emerged that Clarkson could quit the BBC even if he is cleared of wrongdoing.
His relationship with key BBC executives, including head of television Danny Cohen, was already at breaking point before he was suspended over the latest controversy, and Clarkson may simply decide to walk away rather than try to patch things up yet again.
One senior executive reportedly said: "Everyone is convinced he will now go. Clarkson is widely despised and there are a lot of people who would be thrilled."
The presenter has been courted for years by Sky, which has the budget to launch a rival to Top Gear, and friends suggested he might decide it is time to move on.
The last three episodes of the current series of Top Gear have been pulled. And as the fallout from the fracas gathered pace, Lord Hall, director general of the BBC, disclosed that he would personally oversee the investigation and will decide what to do with Clarkson "based on the facts".
He said: "I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson but this is a serious thing that is alleged to have taken place."
Even the UK prime minister, a friend of Clarkson, waded into the row, saying: "Because he is such a huge talent and he amuses and entertains so many people, including my children, who'd be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air, I hope this can be sorted out."
- with The Telegraph, London