Richard Hammond and James May are expected to turn down a £4 million BBC offer to return to Top Gear and instead launch a new show on Netflix with axed host Jeremy Clarkson.
A source claims that the trio, along with executive producer Andy Wilman are “very close” to signing a big-money deal with the on-demand service and no amount would persuade them to return to the BBC2 show without Clarkson.
Speaking to the Mirror, the insider said:
Flattering though it is to be offered huge sums there’ll be no going back. It wouldn’t feel right and their heart wouldn’t be in it. They’ve always said they come as a team and that hasn’t changed. They are all very excited at the prospect of having total editorial control over their new show, to make it and get it distributed. It would be groundbreaking and also incredibly lucrative. They would stand to earn much, much more than they would with the BBC.
A BBC source denied earlier claims Hammond and May were offered £9.1million to return, saying it was nearer £4million for a two-year deal.
But fans of the terrible trio will be delighted with the news that Clarkson, Hammond and May would rather reunite on a new show than go their separate ways.
The source added:
Clarkson had his faults but his importance to the show cannot be understated. He wrote it, came up with ideas and was its heart. It will need about three or four good operators to replace him. The amount of work required to get Top Gear back on the road again is just sinking in amongst executives. It is a huge task.
Richard and James could make it work as a duo – but the idea of different guest presenters every week is seen as a non-starter. They’ve been sounded out to return – but if, as expected Richard and James turn the offer down, then Top Gear will have to be re-invented – undergoing a total re-boot and re-branding.
This week, Hammond and May shot studio scenes for two Top Gear films, made before Clarkson’s contract was not renewed after that infamous “fracas” with producer Oisin Tymon. The episodes will be screened within the next few weeks.
Let’s hope the three presenters can get the deal with Netflix signed because we’d love to see them back on our screens!