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Top Gear trio were 'on the brink' of signing new contracts

JEREMY Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were "on the brink" of renewing their contracts for Top Gear when Clarkson's infamous "fracas" with a producer put an end to the premature celebrations.

May confirmed the scuppered plans in his Sunday Times column, revealing that he had ordered a Ferrari costing more than £200,000 before Clarkson indirectly lost him his job.

"There we were, all three of us, on the brink of a new three-year contract to make Top Gear, after which we would definitely chuck it in with dignity and hand the reins to a new generation, assuming we were still alive," the 52-year-old presenter wrote.

James May rules out Top Gear return without Clarkson


"There were a few details to resolve about time frames and other mundane stuff, but the groaning  draft version of this document was actually sitting on my desk. This was a great privilege and a once-in-a-lifetime event; an invitation to continue presenting the world's biggest TV show for - let's not be shy - a handsome salary."

Tony Hall, BBC director general, decided against renewing Clarkson's contract after an investigation into the incident confirmed that "a line had been crossed" and "there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another". Oisin Tymon had gone to A&E with a split lip following his altercation with Clarkson over the lack of hot food in a hotel.

Both May and Hammond have hinted that they will not be continuing Top Gear with a "surrogate Jeremy", leaving the future of the hit motoring series in doubt.

"Everything in the future shattered like the mishandled Christmas bauble that the future turns out to be," May continued. "It had all gone. All, that is, except the order for a 458 Speciale lodged in Ferrari's factory system, with only the final details to be confirmed. Oh c**k, as I used to say when I was on telly."

May, Clarkson and Hammond were spotted at the pub with Top Gear's former executive producer Andy Wilman last week but May insists that nothing has been settled upon yet.

"The three of us may be reunited on screen, we may go our separate ways, or we may disappear from the television altogether and each assume a place, alone, in the corner of a pub where any unsuspecting passing drinker who strays into an exclusion zone studiously avoided by the locals will be subjected to a predictable 'I used to be on TV' routine," he said, tongue-in-cheek tone evidently still intact.