James May has ruled out a return to Top Gear without sacked former co-host Jeremy Clarkson, saying the BBC1 motoring show with a “surrogate” presenter would be “virtually impossible.”
But May, 52, also hinted that he, Richard Hammond and Clarkson could all return to Top Gear “when all this has blown over.”
“Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it just wouldn’t work… it has to be the three of us,” May told MediaGuardian, adding: “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. That would be short sighted and I don’t think it would work. Virtually impossible.”
“It doesn’t mean I won’t go back, we may all go back in the future,” he said. “It might just be we have a break from it. I don’t know.”
May went on to suggest that Clarkson could be welcomed back to the BBC at some point down the line, despite the fallout from his now notorious “fracas” with producer Oisin Tymon.
“In the future when all this has blown over 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,” said May. “The BBC haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return. 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.”
BBC director-general Tony Hall announced on 25th March that the Corporation would not be renewing Clarkson’s Top Gear contract, saying “a line had been crossed.”
The BBC have since revealed plans to continue Top Gear without him in 2016, though nothing has been said about James May or Richard Hammond.
Meanwhile, Clarkson recently stated that he has plans to make a different series, writing in his Sunday Times column last weekend: “I just know I’m going to do another car show.”