Jeremy Clarkson's controversial departure from Top Gear was "very, very sad", controller of BBC Two Kim Shillinglaw has said.
But the TV chief said she is "really excited" about the next series of the hit car show with new host Chris Evans, adding that it will be "really different".
In an interview in front of an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, she said she will always be "fond" of Clarkson and his former Top Gear co-stars Richard Hammond and James May.
Clarkson's BBC contract was not renewed after he punched a member of the show's staff during a "fracas", prompting the trio to seek new ventures.
They have since tied up a big money deal to front a Top Gear-style motoring show for Amazon Prime customers.
Ms Shillinglaw said: "For me, I think it was a very sad episode in lots of ways and, for me, the biggest reminder is that you know for all this is telly, for all this is business, for all this is a competitive industry, at the end of the day it's about human beings.
"And I think it was just a very, very human situation.
"I am, and always will be, fond of Jeremy, James and Richard. Great respect for their craft skills.
"And I think it was just very, very sad, the way in which, you know human frailties, that I think you have to just as a sort of person be respectful and understanding of, became part of the story."
Ms Shillinglaw said what happened was not something that was "acceptable", adding that she does not think any other organisation would find it as such.
She said it showed that sometimes "human beings are bigger than telly".
Looking ahead to the next series, Ms Shillinglaw said she is "so excited" but also "terrified".
She said she cannot think of a better person than Evans to front the show due to his passion for cars.
"That's so important to Top Gear," she said, adding: "It's going to be different. There will be continuity but it will be really different.
"So there will be some changes to the show. And it's scary, but it's really exciting."
There has been much speculation about who will join Evans on the show, with big names such as Formula One star Jenson Button mentioned in reports.
Amazon refused to comment on speculation over reports saying Clarkson is set to earn £10 million a year for his new car show.
According to a report in The Mirror, the new deal means he would earn around £800,000 an episode, making him Britain's highest-paid TV host.
Amazon said: "We don't disclose specific details of our deals and we don't comment on speculation."
At the end of July, Amazon announced it had signed Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to make a new car show.
The show is set to be produced by Andy Wilman, who worked with the trio on Top Gear.
The former Top Gear trio, along with Wilman, have signed on to do three seasons of their new show.