Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson could walk away from the BBC before it completes its investigation into his alleged involvement in a fracas with one of the show’s producers – as his contract runs out at the end of the month. Meanwhile, Chris Evans is favourite to replace him as host of Top Gear.
All three of the show’s hosts were understood to be days away from signing new contracts that would have kept them at the wheel of the motoring show for another three years when Jeremy was suspended.
The Top Gear presenters (Ellis O’Brien/BBC)
The BBC owns the rights to the Top Gear brand, which is valued at £50 million, and includes the show, DVD rights and live shows raising the prospect of Top Gear continuing on the BBC while the presenter takes a similar show to one of its rivals.
The final three episodes of this series have been postponed in the wake of what the BBC described as ‘a fracas’ between Jeremy and another man, named by the Daily Mirror as Oisin Tymon, 36.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he began working on Top Gear as an associate producer in March 2008 before being promoted to producer in March 2012.
Screen grab taken from topgear.com of Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon (BBC Worldwide)
Before joining the show he spent just over a year as a researcher and associate producer on daily magazine programme The One Show, and he has a recommendation from an employer which describes him as ‘personable, professional and efficient’.
The presenters and crew are believed to have been staying at the Simonstone Hall Hotel in Hawes, North Yorkshire, at the time of filming.
A spokesman for the 15th-century country house confirmed that Top Gear staff stayed in the 18-bedroom property from March 3 to March 5, but that the presenters only stayed for one night on March 4.
But the spokesman would not confirm whether the alleged fracas had taken place at the hotel, described on its website as the ‘ultimate tranquil retreat’ which ‘exudes comfort and finery in equal measures’.
Online bookmakers firm Betfair has installed Chris Evans as red hot favourite to replace Clarkson.
Betfair spokesman Cormac Dowling commented: “With the BBC seemingly adamant that Clarkson won’t return, and the man himself doing very little in the way of expressing remorse for his actions, we have seen some serious support for Chris Evans to replace him on Top Gear. Evans is now 6/4, with ex-British racing driver, Eddie Irvine 5/1 second favourite.”