Entertainment & Arts

James May 'will not return to Top Gear' without Clarkson

James May
Image caption May changed his Twitter account to say 'former Top Gear presenter' last month

Top Gear presenter James May has said he will not return to the BBC show without co-host Jeremy Clarkson, who was dropped from the show last month.

"Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter. It has to be the three of us," he told the Guardian.

May, who first appeared on Top Gear in 1999, said the show without Clarkson would be a "a bit of a daft idea".

According to May's agent, however, the presenter is still in talks with the BBC about his role on the show.

"Conversations regarding the future of BBC's Top Gear are ongoing," May's representative told the Press Association.

"James continues to be involved in those conversations, however no plans have been 100% confirmed."

'The new Jeremy'

Clarkson was suspended and then later axed from the show after he attacked producer Mr Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him.

Clarkson was removed from presenting duties on the motoring show after assaulting producer Oisin Tymon.

"I don't think you could carry on with two people and put someone in as the new Jeremy because they are not going to be the new Jeremy," May said.

"That would be short-sighted and I don't think it would work. Virtually impossible."

May changed his Twitter account to say "former Top Gear presenter" on 25 March, the day it was announced Clarkson's contract would not be renewed.

May's own contract, and that of his co-presenter Richard Hammond, expired last month.

It raises the possibility of an entirely new presenting line-up for the hit BBC Two show.

Image caption Shillinglaw has said the challenge of reinventing Top Gear without Clarkson was "creatively exciting"

Channel controller Kim Shillinglaw has been given the job of finding a replacement for Clarkson, with former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary and Jodie Kidd rumoured to be in the running.

But May has said there "might be an opportunity for three of us to get back together on the BBC to do Top Gear or a car show of some sort".

'Subtle difference'

"The BBC haven't completely closed the door on Jeremy's return," he told the Guardian.

"They've not banned him or fired him, only just not renewed his contract for the moment. It's a subtle difference, but an important one."

Earlier this week, Shillinglaw stressed there was no ban on Clarkson returning to the BBC, despite director general Tony Hall's decision to fire him last month, saying "a line has been crossed".

"It's serious and unfortunate what happened but there is no ban on Jeremy being on the BBC," said Shillinglaw.

"It's a big deal what happened and Jeremy, as any human being would, needs some time."

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