TV

May & Hammond ‘offered £1m by BBC to come back’

We never thought we'd ever compare Jeremy Clarkson to Angus Deayton, but it turns out that the former may be replaced in the same manner as the latter.

A 'top BBC source' told The Independent that the corporation is planning to copy the format of Have I Got News For You, which responded to the sacking of Deayton after a drugs and prostitutes scandal in 2002 by never actually replacing him - instead relying on a revolving door of guest hosts which changed for each episode. The corporation believe that if it worked for HIGNFU and the recently axed Never Mind the Buzzcocks, it can work for Top Gear. 

Of course, in order to create this scenario, the Beeb will need to keep hold of the remaining two presenters: Richard Hammond and James May. Both men have stated their desire not to return in solidarity with Clarkson, and both saw their contracts expire at the end of March - at the same time as Clarkson.

And how will they do this? Seemingly with the age-old solution: money. Both presenters will be offered a huge £1m a year deal to come back - an amount that the Beeb can justify on account of the huge amount of money the show makes for the corporation from syndication abroad.

Just a few days ago the BBC Trust cleared Top Gear of any foul play over the use of a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL during their trip to Argentina, ruling that, “no evidence had been presented which demonstrated that the use of the number plate, was a deliberate reference to the Falklands war”. This clears the remaining Top Gear two of anything that could be help against their return.

However, it remains to be seen whether they'd want to return without their third amigo - May has previously said that it would be "lame" to make the programme with a "surrogate Jeremy", while Hammond is thought to feel the same way. They are all currently taking their Clarkson, Hammond and May tour on the road - the original Top Gear branding was dropped after Clarkson's attack on producer Oisin Tymon. In addition, it's previously been reported that they've all been speaking to ITV about taking the show there.

We'll be sure to report back with further news as the story develops.

(Images: Rex)