Thursday 22 March 2018

Filming ends on delayed Top Gear

Richard Hammond and James May have reportedly been offered £1 million per year each to stay on as hosts of the top-rated show
Richard Hammond and James May have reportedly been offered £1 million per year each to stay on as hosts of the top-rated show

James May and Richard Hammond have finally finished filming the Top Gear episodes that were put on hold in the wake of Jeremy Clarkson's controversial departure from the show.

The pair filmed a series of links, at the show's test track a t Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, earlier this week.

The episodes, which were left unfinished when Clarkson was suspended after assaulting producer Oisin Tymon, will be shown later this year.

It is still unclear if it is the last time fans will see Hammond and May on Top Gear after it was reported the pair were offered deals in the region of £1 million a year to stay with the hit motoring show.

That deal, which would make the pair among the corporation's highest earners, is said to be part of a plan to include a different guest host on each show rather than d irectly replacing Clarkson.

The corporation used a similar tactic when another of its best-known faces - Have I Got News For You host Angus Deayton - was fired after reports emerged of drug use and encounters with prostitutes.

A BBC spokeswoman and representatives of the two men declined to comment, but bookmakers have slashed the odds on the pair returning.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: "Just a week ago we were offering 5/1 for them to return for another series of Top Gear, but following news of the sums that have been offered to the pair, we have slashed the odds to 5/4."

All three men's contracts ran out earlier this year and the BBC refused to renew Clarkson's after his much-publicised attack on Mr Tymon.

Andy Wilman, Top Gear's former executive producer - and an old school friend of Clarkson - has left the show, which sparked rumours he was joining up with all three men to make an alternative programme, with Netflix and ITV among the broadcasters rumoured to be in the running to screen it.

BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw, the woman tasked with putting the programme back together after Clarkson's exit, has previously refused to rule out a return to the show for May and Hammond.

Speaking in April, she said conversations were "ongoing" with the pair and confirmed scenes filmed before Clarkson was suspended were likely to air this summer.

Several names have been put forward as possible replacements for Clarkson, including Guy Martin and Jodie Kidd, but another contender - Dermot O'Leary - has ruled himself out.

The former X Factor host told the Daily Mirror he had not been approached about the job.

Press Association

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