"Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it just wouldn't work. That would be lame, or 'awks' as young people say."
And with that, James May put the final nail in Top Gear as we know it. The former host was speaking to The Guardian when he ruled out a return to the BBC's famed motoring program, saying, "It has to be the three of us. You can't just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don't believe they would be stupid enough to try that."
May's statements come on the back of those by BBC Controller Kim Shillinglaw, who said the unaired footage from the show's 22nd season would air before the end of the year. In her comments, Shillinglaw said the show would return in a "new form," although it was unclear whether May, Hammond or Executive Producer Andy Wilman would be involved. The 52-year-old did, however, say he'd be willing to return to film new links and studio segments to complete the remainder of season 22, although no official invitation has been issued.
As for the more distant future, May didn't rule out the idea of the trio eventually returning to the BBC, pointing out that technically, Clarkson wasn't fired.
"In the future when all this has blown over there might be an opportunity for three of us to get back together on the BBC to do Top Gear or a car show of some sort," May told The Guardian. "The BBC haven't completely closed the door on Jeremy's return. They've not banned him or fired him, only just not renewed his contract for the moment. It's a subtle difference but an important one."
Finally, May addressed rumors that the team would jump ship to a rival broadcaster (or a certain streaming service), saying there was "nothing to rule out," although he also added that non-compete clauses may be an issue for at least one presenter, The Guardian reports.
Meanwhile, May made no comment about his cooking endeavors.