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BBC trying to woo back Richard Hammond and James May in 'multimillion pound deal'

Will all three men be back?

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE BBC HAS made a multimillion pound bid to keep Richard Hammond and James May on Top Gear after axing Jeremy Clarkson.

According to the Guardian, BBC 2 chiefs want the pair to remain on the show alongside a different guest presenter each week.

Back in March, Clarkson’s contract was not renewed after an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on producer Oisín Tymon.

The following month, BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw refused to rule out Hammond and May returning. She also said there was a possibility of Clarkson coming back too – on a different show after he has some “time out”.

“Conversations are ongoing with James and Richard about a whole variety of projects at the BBC. While those conversations are ongoing, they have to remain private,” Shillinglaw said.

The Guardian has suggested that by retaining Hammond and May and not replacing Clarkson outright, the controversial host could return to Top Gear in a future series.

May had previously said it would be “lame” to do the show with a “surrogate Jeremy”.

It doesn’t mean I won’t go back, we may all go back in the future. It might just be we have a break from it. I don’t know.

Top Gear attracted about 6 million viewers on BBC2 each week.

The programme generates around £50 million a year for the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and spawned a hugely popular live show.

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Órla Ryan

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