Jeremy Clarkson has made a bold new claim today that he was offered the chance to return to Top Gear – just days after the BBC announced that the next series will be fronted by Chris Evans.
Clarkson told The Sun that he met an unnamed BBC executive last week before Evans, 49, was unveiled as the new host. But he said that he turned the offer down because of what had happened since his departure, including being compared to paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile.
“I had a meeting with a BBC executive last week and they asked if I’d come back to Top Gear. But it was never an option, even with the one million people signing the Bring Back Clarkson petition – for which I was extremely humbled. Too much has gone on. After I’d been compared to Jimmy Savile by someone from the BBC and it was splashed all over a Sunday newspaper, how could I go back? The spotlight would have been on me and the show would end up being neutered. It would be difficult to do anything without interference. It would have been impossible to make the show I’d want to make.”
Later in the day, as he presented his breakfast show, Chris Evans dismissed the claim as a product of Clarkson’s imagination. He told his millions of Radio 2 listeners: “Well, as to whether Jeremy was offered his old job back or not, either outside or inside his own head, he still said no to the voices.”
A BBC spokesman said: “We haven’t offered another Top Gear contract and the BBC had placed on record its thanks to Jeremy for his broadcasting on the programme and wish him well for the future.”
Jeremy to announce new show “within weeks”
Jeremy Clarkson also went on to confirm that he’ll front a new show with Richard Hammond and James May – and that an announcement will be made “within weeks”. There is no information regarding which broadcaster they will sign with, however Netflix, ITV and Channel 4 are thought to be frontrunners.
Jeremy also mentioned that James May is currently working on his own motoring show, which will be aired on BBC2 next year. The show will be titled “Building Cars Live” and will air in two 90-minute episodes.
James May will be joined by Kate Humble of Springwatch, Volcano and Airport Live fame, and will focus on the MINI production plant in Oxford, with James May declaring that he “can’t wait to build a car. Live.”
We’ll post more news on both shows as it comes to hand.