James May won't return to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson

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James May has revealed that he is not prepared to return to Top Gear without his axed co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy was dropped from the BBC Two motoring show last month, following a "fracas" with Oisin Tymon in which he physically and verbally attacked the producer.

Ever since, the rumour mill has been going into overdrive, with fans speculating who will step in to replace Jeremy – and whether his co-hosts James and Richard Hammond would also return.

"It would be a tough call to do Top Gear without Jeremy, that would be a bit of a daft idea," James, 52, told The Guardian.

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James May said it would be "lame" to return to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson

"I don't think you could carry on with two people and put someone in as the new Jeremy because they are not going to be the new Jeremy. That would be short sighted and I don't think it would work. Virtually impossible."

James, who has presented the original Top Gear series and the 2003 revival, added: "That would be lame, or 'awks' as young people say. It has to be the three of us. You can't just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don't believe they would be stupid enough to try that."

It is understood that James and Richard, whose contracts expired last month, are currently not in talks, yet, about renewing their Top Gear roles. James, however, did want to make clear that he wasn't leaving the popular show for good.

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"It has to be the three of us," said James May

"It doesn't mean I won't go back," he said. "We may all go back in the future. It might just be we have a break from it. I don't know."

The Bristol-born journalist also clarified that he wasn't shunning the corporation either. "I have not quit the BBC, just so you know," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

The news comes after Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, spoke about Jeremy's current position – and said that the 55-year-old would make some kind of a return.

"Jeremy will be back on the BBC," she said. "It's serious and unfortunate what happened but there is no ban on Jeremy being on the BBC. It's a big deal what happened and Jeremy, as any human being would, needs some time."

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