Entertainment & Arts

Top Gear: Producer Andy Wilman not quitting the show

Andy Wilman
Image caption Andy Wilman relaunched Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson in 2002

Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman has said he is not quitting the show.

A leaked email from Wilman to staff of the show had seemed to suggest he was resigning, but he said it was a private "note of thanks" marking the end of an era.

Wilman, an old school friend of former presenter Jeremy Clarkson, helped relaunch the show with him in 2002.

Clarkson was dropped by the BBC earlier this month following a "fracas" with a Top Gear producer.

Image caption For scores of fans, Clarkson was the main reason to watch Top Gear

Wilman has issued a statement about the email, saying: "The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption".

A spokeswoman for the BBC said his email "was intended as a heartfelt message to people who had worked with him and Jeremy, to recognise the fact that with Jeremy leaving it was the end of an era".

"It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure," she added.

In the leaked email Wilman started with: "Well, at least we left 'em wanting more.

"And that alone, when you think about it, is quite an achievement for a show that started 13 years ago."

As well as thanking staff, he assured them that the show will continue.

"For those of you who still rely on it for work, don't worry, because the BBC will make sure the show continues.

"Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show's history, not the whole of it. Those two words are bigger than us."

BBC director general Tony Hall announced on 25 March that the corporation would not be renewing Clarkson's contract.

Andy Wilman's statement in full

"The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption.

"It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years, but clearly one of those 113 is a bit of a tit, because they shared it with a website.

"I don't get this modern obsession with sharing, linking, forwarding, retweeting; whatever happened to a private moment?

"And if I were to resign, I wouldn't do it publicly, I'd do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR.

"I work behind the camera and I wouldn't presume for one moment to think people are interested in what I do. Now, everyone back to work."

Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, following what was called a "fracas" with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon.

Image caption Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May have a global fanbase

The row, which took place in a Yorkshire hotel, was said to have occurred because no hot food was provided following a day's filming.

An internal inquiry found that Mr Tymon took himself to hospital after he was subject to an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" by Clarkson.

In his statement about dropping Clarkson, the director general admitted that looking to renew Top Gear for 2016 was "a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise".

He has asked Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, to look at how to do this and to look at how they can broadcast the last programmes in the current series.

There is no news yet as to whether fellow presenters James May and Richard Hammond will return to the show.

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