The future, or lack thereof, for the Top Gear television juggernaut may now be slightly clearer, with presenter James May reportedly ruling out a return.
Speaking with The Guardian, May is said to have labelled the idea of a new presenter to replace sacked host Jeremy Clarkson as a “surrogate Jeremy”, adding that the idea to replace Clarkson was “lame”.
Comments from BBC2 Controller Kim Shillinglaw earlier this week suggested Top Gear would return to the small screen later this year, as episodes of the show’s 22nd season were suspended at the same time as Clarkson.
While no announcement has been made, rumours pointed to a return for May and co-presenter Richard Hammond, joined by a new face with the unenviable job of filling Clarkson’s hosting shoes.
But May reportedly poured cold water on this idea, declaring it a “non-starter” and suggesting himself, Clarkson and Hammond could once again host Top Gear at some stage.
“It has to be the three of us,” Mr May said. “You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that.”
“It doesn’t mean I won’t go back, we may all go back in the future. It might just be we have a break from it. I don’t know.”
May said Clarkson had not been banned or sacked from the BBC - saying the broadcaster merely refused to renew Clarkson’s contract and that Top Gear may return to the BBC in its former glory “when all this has blown over”.
Otherwise, May is scheduled to make three more episodes of James May’s Cars Of The People for the BBC, adding there was “nothing to rule out” a new motoring program featuring the three Top Gear stars on a rival network.
This latest chapter in the Top Gear saga will no doubt frustrate fans, who are no closer to learning when or if they will view the unseen footage from Season 22; nor the next career moves for Clarkson, Hammond and May.
A new format for Top Gear seems likely for 2016 - which may have included Hammond and May but Mr May’s comments now point to a new batch of hosts or a singular host for next year.
For now, Clarkson, Hammond And May Live is confirmed as the new name for Top Gear’s live shows, which are due to visit Melbourne and Sydney later this year.
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