James May is set to return to UK screens this Sunday, for a new series of Cars of the People, where he takes a historical look at the cars that have transformed the world we live in.
May will also be back on our screens, tablets and mobile devices later in the year when he reunites with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond for their new online seriess for Amazon Prime. But will we see him reprise the role of Captain Slow, complete with floral shirts and bad jokes? Perhaps, but there’s a lot more to James May then that. Here’s what you should know:
1. You will never catch him on Strictly Come Dancing
James admits that while he likes the idea of joining the tv show Strictly Come Dancing, then taking the money and leaving quickly after one week, he fears the public humiliation that may result. The other big problem is that he requires lots of drink before he’s willing to shake his booty.
“I can’t dance, unless I’m really outrageously drunk. Then I quite like hardcore clubbing music and I get on the table and jump up and down. I love it, but I must look like a total arse.”
2. He had a surprising upbringing
James May is the son of a priest and was a choirboy at his local church when he was young. But as he later found out it wasn’t to be, after an incident where he punched a boy called Kenneth Ingram in choir practice when he was 9 years old.
“We had an argument over who would be head boy. It was a brutal arena, the village church choir,” joked May.
3. James May’s Got Talent
James May is musically inclined, having studied music at Lancaster University. His musical skills include playing the piano and also the flute.
4. TV presenting didn’t come naturally
Before joining Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond on Top Gear, James was actually involved in the original version of the show which aired in the 1990’s.
He joined at a time when the show was dropping figures fast, before it was eventually cancelled. “It was a total failure, and got axed and everyone lost their jobs,” he said.
Luckily for him, he got his second chance on new Top Gear and he felt a lot more comfortable on screen the second time around.
“I think I’m a bit better now,” he said. “I’d tell my old self to relax, stop trying to emulate other presenters and just talk about the stuff you really know. There’s no secret formula; no one really knows what will work.”
5. What are James’s dodgy shirts all about?
James often gets asked whether he’s a metrosexual due to his odd fashion sense, but he finds the tag confusing. “Am I a metrosexual? I still don’t know what that means. Does metrosexual mean I drink beer and fart but I have an appreciation of cushions? Is that it? I must be one then,” May said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Explaining his fascination with brightly coloured clothing, he added: “The shirt thing just started one day when I bought one with a really interesting pattern and people laughed at it, so I thought, “I’ll keep buying daft shirts with flowers on them.”
6. He’s not actually slow
Despite his nickname ‘Captain Slow’, James May is actually a very good driver and has clocked some impressive speeds whilst working on Top Gear.
Most famously he reached 259.2 mph whilst driving a Bugatti Veyron Super Sports in Germany during Series 15. He also drove the original Veyron in Series 9, where he clocked 253 mph.
7. James has his pilot’s license
James’ passion for machinery extends beyond cars. In 2006 he earned himself a pilot’s license at White Waltham Airfield. May even owns his own plane with a personalised number plate on the wings, which matched his “oh cock” catchphrase.
8. James was fired from Autocar magazine
While working for Autocar, May slipped a hidden message into their annual Road Test Year Book magazine, due to boredom. When pieced together, the phrase read: “So you think it’s really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up; it’s a real pain in the arse.”
The joke was missed by the publishers, but picked up on by readers and ultimately cost him his job.