The BBC is looking to keep Jeremy Clarkson’s former Top Gear co-hosts on the show despite his departure, it has been reported.
James May and Richard Hammond have been offered deals in the region of £1 million a year to stay with the hit motoring show, according to The Times.
James May and Richard Hammond (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Such a deal would make the pair among the corporation’s highest earners.
It comes amid speculation the BBC will not directly replace Jeremy, but instead have a guest host on each show.
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.
Richard’s spokesman declined to comment, while James’s representative could not be reached.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on speculation.”
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (Liam McBurney/PA)
All three men’s contracts ran out earlier this year and the BBC refused to renew Jeremy’s after his attack on producer Oisin Tymon.
Top Gear’s former executive producer – and Jeremy’s old school friend – Andy Wilman 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 show it.
BBC Two controller Kim Shillinglaw, the woman tasked with putting the programme back together after Jeremy’s exit, has previously refused to rule out a return to the show for the other two presenters.
Speaking in April, she said conversations were ‘ongoing’ with the pair and confirmed scenes filmed before Jeremy was suspended were likely to air this summer.
Dermot O’Leary has ruled himself out of the Top Gear job (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
Several names have been put forward as Jeremy’s possible replacements, 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.