With Jeremy Clarkson long gone since his now notorious punchgate 'fracas', the future of Top Gear has rarely been out of the headlines and today it's been hit with another blow from fellow presenter James May.
Speaking to The Guardian, earlier this week the foppish haired one said: "Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter. It has to be the three of us...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."
Which in the friendliest way possible is May ducking out of the motoring show. Followed several days later by Richard Hammond taking to twitter to state his departure from the series. Although in a slightly more diplomatic fashion, referencing the fact that all three of the presenters' contracts have in fact expired. All three are said to be looking at ambiguously described, 'other' ventures' for the Beeb.
To be clear amidst all this talk of us 'quitting' or not: there's nothing for me to 'quit'. Not about to quit my mates anyway.— Richard Hammond (@RichardHammond) April 24, 2015
In terms of actual replacements for the trio, the BBC have thus far been pretty tight lipped, but here are the four most unlikely team-ups we'd like to see on the show.
Stephen Fry, Jack Whitehall and Jay Kay
This week’s special – the latest off roaders. Jack Whitehall tumbles about in the back seat of a new Jeep having made a particularly roguish comment as to whether there would be enough room for ‘you know what’. “Oh do behave Jack, you rascal,” quips Fry, resplendent in a green Land Rover Defender. “Now, the Defender is actually a continuation of the original Land Rover series, first launched in 1948 – funnily enough, the year that I…” but the insightful anecdote is cut dead when Jay Kay blazes past in a G63 AMG. “[Sings with incandescent levels of funk] Now this is a car!” Cut to Stig.
Dermot O’Leary, Jack Dee and Paddy McGuinness
Imagine it now. TV favourite and constant optimist Dermot and his Velcro hair locking horns with the difficult and cynical Jack Dee. All while Paddy ‘Show-the-key-the-ignition’ McGuinness is floating around and spewing Dad jokes, offering no real input on the cars but against all odds stealing the show on a weekly basis. Each show would culminate in an awkward ‘after work’ pint where they summarise the show, Dermot’s getting the round in, Jack perpetually annoyed at the choice of bar snacks and Paddy hogging the Karaoke.
Ant & Dec, Chris Evans
We can see it now: a supercar thunders down the tarmac of an abandoned airfield, skidding around in light drizzle, Ant holding the wheel, Dec shifting the gears. A thing of televisual beauty, all right. Ok, luring the Geordie duo away from their golden handcuffs deal at ITV would be difficult for the BBC, but nonetheless a masterstroke which would ensure a smooth transition from the well-worked bantz of Clarkson and co. to the natural patter of two eternally likeable best pals. And for any fans worried about the pair’s motor knowledge, enter Chris Evans – the vintage Ferrari collector lives for the stuff. TFI Friday meets SMTV with fast cars - what more can you ask for?
Alan Partridge, Michael The Geordie and Sidekick Simon
ShortList readers are already keen on the idea of Partridge applying his extensive motoring knowledge to Top Gear, so why not bring in two of his trusty compadres to complete the line-up? North Norfolk Digital’s Sidekick Simon would be the perfect replacement for Hammond, bringing some ‘top banter’ to the studio and setting up gags about rebadged mini Metros which Alan could despatch into the back of the net. Meanwhile, Michael has extensive experience working in a BP garage, so would understand the modern motorist perfectly, while his army experience would be ideal for Top Gear challenges abroad (just make sure monkeys are kept away from his cigarettes). It almost makes too much sense.