James May tells Top Gear viewers who trolled Sue Perkins on Twitter to 'kill themselves'
James May has criticised Top Gear viewers who sent threatening tweets to Sue Perkins after reports she was going to replace Jeremy Clarkson, saying he did not want them as fans.
The presenter, who is getting ready to tour a Top Gear spin-off around the UK alongside Clarkson and Richard Hammond, suggested online trolls who sent Perkins death threats should go "kill themselves".
He said: "If you're one of the people sending death threats to Sue Perkins, could you please do the world a much bigger favour by killing yourself."
The presenter quickly clarified: "Obviously I don't actually want people to kill themselves but, really, we don't want them as fans."
Perkins, who became a favourite to replace the ousted Clarkson after a flurry of bets, announced she was leaving Twitter yesterday as a result of the abuse.
She said: "Guys, post the utterly fabricated story about me and Top Gear, my timeline has been full of blokes wishing me dead. This morning, someone suggested they'd like to see me burn to death.
"All of which goes to say that I am off Twitter for a bit. Love and peace x."
The Great British Bake Off host was said to be the front-runner for the job according to bookmakers Coral, with Dermot O'Leary second favourite at 2-1. Actor Philip Glenister, famed for his role as the detective in Life On Mars, has also been rumoured to replace the ousted Clarkson.
The Bake Off star denied the rumours, resulting in a torrent of abuse from Top Gear fans. Perkins said on Twitter last week: "Just back from night shoot in Kolkata sewers to find my timeline busy with middle-aged man-trolls. General gist: Man do cars, woman do cake."
Clarkson was the subject of an internal BBC investigation after he attacked Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him in a 30-second assault on March 4.
He was suspended by the broadcaster on March 10 before it announced his contract would not be renewed.
The star received widespread public support - including from his friend Prime Minister David Cameron - in the aftermath of the fracas, and one million people signed a petition calling for the BBC to reinstate him.
But director-general Tony Hall said ''a line has been crossed'' and ''there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another''.