A flurry of bets has seen The Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins installed as favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson in hit motoring show Top Gear, even though she denies she’s got the job.
The star, who also presents an afternoon chat show on ITV with Bake Off co-star Mel Giedroyc, is the front-runner for the job according to bookmakers Coral.
They make her evens to take the job, ahead of Dermot O’Leary who is 2-1, with Jodie Kidd third favourite at 5-2.
When it was suggested she already had the job, Sue tweeted this afternoon:
— Sue Perkins (@sueperkins) April 9, 2015
Jeremy Clarkson hosted Top Gear with James May and Richard Hammond (BBC)
The firm’s spokeswoman Nicola McGeady said: “This latest gamble suggests that Sue Perkins is being lined up to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. When betting first opened on Clarkson’s successor, it was one-way traffic for Jodie Kidd and now today’s flutter has convinced us that a female is in the driving seat”.
Clarkson’s broadcasting future remains uncertain, but he will be back on the BBC later this month hosting the satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You.
He was the subject of an internal BBC investigation after he attacked Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him in a 30-second assault on March 4.
Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, the man allegedly punched by Clarkson (BBC Worldwide/PA)
He was suspended by the broadcaster on March 10 before it announced his contract would not be renewed.
The star received widespread public support – including from his friend Prime Minister David Cameron – in the aftermath of the fracas, and one million people signed a petition calling for the BBC to reinstate him.
But director-general Tony Hall said ‘a line has been crossed’ and ‘there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another’.
Jeremy Clarkson with his Top Gear co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond (Ellis O’Brien/BBC Worldwide)
It emerged last week that Clarkson will appear on stage with his former Top Gear colleagues, Richard Hammond and James May, later this year to fulfil a series of shows planned before he left the BBC.
The gigs will be stripped of all BBC branding and content, and billed as Clarkson, Hammond and May Live.
That means the shows, which will take in venues in Australia, Norway, South Africa and the UK, will not be able to use clips from the show or feature The Stig.
The move has sparked rumours the three men intend to team up to continue their careers together after Clarkson’s exit from the corporation, but sources close to the tour say it is just a matter of fulfilling commitments to the fans.
Top Gear presenters James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The future of the show’s other two presenters – Hammond and May – is unclear, with both men’s Top Gear contracts having expired.
Police are still investigating threats to kill Mr Hall, reportedly linked to his decision to axe Clarkson.
Mr Hall, former chief executive of the Royal Opera House, took over the £450,000 BBC post in April 2013 to replace George Entwistle, who left the corporation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.