When Jeremy Clarkson was told he was finished at Top Gear, everyone just sort of assumed that was that. The show was over, at least in its then-current incarnation, and we’d all have to find something new to watch on Sundays (Nurse Jackie, obvi). But co-host James May just said it might not be over for the trio.
Before we continue, I don’t want to oversell this. There’s no definitive statement that Clarkson, May, and Richard Hammond are returning to the BBC to host Top Gear. In fact, it’s fairly unlikely, and who knows, with our obscene tin foil hats on this might just be all part of a negotiating ploy for more money as the three look to re-boot the show somewhere else.
And in the grand scheme of things, Clarkson’s already said he’s working on a new show. And May said that he wouldn’t return to host Top Gear without Clarkson, as it would be totally “awks.” (James May actually said that, but there’s no word if a new Top Gear would be on fleek.)
BUT. In a lengthy interview with the Guardian, May sought to make explicit that Clarkson wasn’t technically fired, in the legal sense, and while he did rule out his own return to Top Gear without Clarkson, he didn’t rule out the (however-remote-it-is) possibility that all three wouldn’t be returning to host it together:
“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,” said May.
“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.”
May said he saw it as a “light kicking … not excluding him from the club”.
And as May does take the time to make the distinction between having one’s employment terminated, and having one’s contract not renewed, we should note that Clarkson himself has said he was “sacked.”
Here’s where things get really boring and dry, however, if you don’t like legal contract matters. May said that “one or more” of the presenters may have non-compete clauses in their existing contracts with the BBC, and may have to wait for those to expire before they take their ideas elsewhere. And furthermore, he still needs to finish up more episodes of Cars of the People for the BBC, as well as a bunch of other projects.
Of course, Clarkson returning to host Top Gear on the BBC would bring up a raft of horrible implications for the network, including whether or not the discipline it metes out to anyone really means anything.
But wHoOoOoOoOoOoOo knows, really? We’ll probably see all three somewhere, at some point, in the future. So none of this probably matters anyway.
(In any case, Andy Wilman probably knows.)