With his multi-million-pound job hanging in the balance, it might have been wise to maintain a dignified silence. But Jeremy Clarkson isn't one for pulling his punches.

The Top Gear presenter launched an extraordinary foul-mouthed rant at BBC bosses during a charity gala, two weeks after being suspended over claims that he'd punched Oisin Tymon, a 36-year-old Top Gear producer.

Clarkson told the audience he wanted to do one more lap of the show's racetrack "before the f****** b******* sack me".

Clarkson seemed sure he'd already lost his job, telling guests that the driving series "was a great show and they've f***** it up".

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Before auctioning off the chance for someone to drive "one last lap" for an astonishing £100,000 ($197,000), Clarkson said: "I'll be a bit tearful when I do it, but f*** it, let's do it. And I'll drive somebody in whatever I can get hold of.

"BBC are f****** b******* but I want one more Top Gear lap. I'm sacked, so it's probably an Austin Maestro. There was an 18-year waiting list to be in the audience of Top Gear, but the BBC has f***** themselves."

Regardless of Clarkson's outburst, his future on the BBC is likely to be decided in the next few days when the corporation's internal probe into his "fracas" with Tymon is given to Director-General Tony Hall.

Despite his bloody-minded chutzpah at the gala, Clarkson appeared strained and far older than his 54 years.

After leaving the party alone, he met his girlfriend, Phillipa Sage. The couple were pictured together for the first time in years, underscoring how much the presenter has come to rely on her.

Indeed, with the booze, the blonde and increased levels of bolshiness, it might appear Clarkson is suffering the classic holy trinity of symptoms of a male mid-life crisis.

The Daily Mail reported this week he is poised to take legal action over an extraordinary smear campaign in which his behaviour was compared by someone described as "one of the most senior corporation executives" with the paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Even so, Clarkson is desperately loyal to the BBC and wants Top Gear to remain with the corporation.

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He tried to talk to Tymon but it seems the producer wouldn't open the door.

One senior BBC figure told the Daily Mail there is a growing belief that Clarkson will indeed come back, but a new producer will be hired to prevent some of his "excesses".

However, even if his suspension is lifted, Clarkson's woes will not be over. His relationship with his estranged wife, Francie, is complicated.

Francie still lives at the former marital home in the Oxfordshire town of Chipping Norton. He visits the house to see Francie and their three children, aged 15-21.

What's more, there are concerns about his health. He has never kicked his 40-a-day smoking habit, and has a thirst for rose wine. Friends say he'll happily drink two bottles over lunchtime when not working. He also admits he never exercises and is very unfit, as well as greatly overweight.

- Daily Mail