The BBC asked Jeremy Clarkson to return as Top Gear host but he turned it down because someone at the corporation had compared him to Jimmy Savile, it emerged last night.
he 55-year-old former presenter said he had been asked by a senior executive to return to the motoring show but he declined the offer, saying “too much has gone on”.
Clarkson, who was sacked by the BBC earlier this year after assaulting a Top Gear producer, said: “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.”
He told The Sun: “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.
“I think they knew this so that’s why they gave the job to Chris so soon after I met them.”
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.”
Radio 2 breakfast DJ and TFI Friday host Chris Evans will replace Jeremy Clarkson as the lead presenter of a revamped Top Gear, the BBC announced earlier this week.
Evans, a known car enthusiast and friend of Clarkson, signed a three-year deal to head up the BBC Two show, calling it his "favourite programme of all time".
Richard Hammond and James May have confirmed they will not be returning to the show despite the BBC’s best efforts to keep them. But they, and Clarkson, have wished Evans well.