According to BBC sources, Hammond’s contract – along with those of his co-hosts Clarkson and May – expired at the end of March.
Yesterday saw executive producer Andy Wilman announce he was leaving the show, following May’s decision not to do Top Gear without Clarkson, meaning the BBC2 series will have an entirely new presenting team and creative controller when it returns.
Speaking at a BBC2 preview event in London this week, Shillinglaw – who was previously the BBC’s commissioning editor for science and natural history – declined to rule out a female host to front the new-look format.
“I am not really thinking about it in terms of gender,” she said. ”I have done a lot with female presenters when I used to work in science. That was something across the piece that I really wanted to tackle. It’s a really open book on that.
“We will definitely look at women but it is not the driving priority. I have never approached an individual show thinking that is the way you cast it.”
Outside of Top Gear, Hammond’s other BBC shows have included Wild Weather and Invisible Worlds, both on BBC1. He also fronted BBC1’s Saturday teatime gameshow, Total Wipeout.