In a recent interview with Cole Moreton for Event Magazine, James May spoke of his regrets the way Top Gear ended – but not for the reasons you might think.
Speaking on the subject, May said “Even then it wasn’t a proper bar brawl, so we still failed at being proper blokes,’ he says of the infamous punch that finished off the classic line-up of the world’s favourite car show. It should have been a lot of bottles going through windows and some sword-fighting and stuff. That would have been great. But it wasn’t. It was just all a bit… yeah. Let’s not talk about that any more.”
Millions of fans around the world were shocked back in March when the Clarkson-Hammond-May version of Top Gear came to a sudden end. Jeremy Clarkson had ruined it all by punching a producer at the end of a long, hard day’s filming in the wet and cold – and all because he wasn’t going to get a hot meal.
“We get bad-tempered when we spend far too much time together,” May admits, who was arguably the calmest and most reasonable member of the trio, against grizzly Clarkson or the almost hyperactive Richard Hammond.
May also revealed for the first time that things did get a bit heated between he and Clarkson following the dramatic end to the show, not least because he was left wondering how on earth he was going to pay for the Ferrari 458 Speciale he had just ordered for nearly a quarter of a million pounds.
He must have been livid. “Well, to be honest, yes. Exactly. You daft t*****, have you seen the size of the bill coming my way?“, May said.
May purchased the new 458 Speciale after the trio signed a lucrative deal with the BBC to continue producing Top Gear for at least another 3 years.
May added, “Then it all fell apart, but by then I was sort of obliged to have it. The order books were closed but they had squeezed one more in for me, a 458 Speciale.”
New show won’t be called ‘Gear Knobs’
During the interview, May also confirmed that their new Amazon show won’t be called ‘Gear Knobs’, despite widespread reports that it’s been registered as a trademark.
“I don’t think we can actually call it that,’ he said with a grin. ‘That’s not possible. It was actually my idea. I think it’s funny, but I don’t think it’s appropriate. We haven’t got a name for it yet. We honestly haven’t.”
The former Top Gear trio have had to put together an office and production team from scratch, now that they do not have the power of the BBC behind them. According to James they haven’t gotten very far with things yet, although at the very least they’ve started filming and we should see the first episodes released around August / September next year.
Is May worried about the prospect of being beaten to the airwaves by Chris Evans and his rehashed version of Top Gear? Definitely not.
“The audience forget very quickly, but they can be reminded again as well. The result is quite good. You get a reinvented Top Gear with Chris Evans, who will rethink it quite vigorously – maybe it could have done with a rethink anyway – and you also get us three, who an established number of people like. A lot of people don’t like us, but there are a lot of people who do. We owe it to them to stick together and do it for a bit longer. I always said it was a privilege to end up on the television. It wasn’t my ambition, I fell into editing magazines and writing about cars and then I ended up on the telly.”
May also took a shot at some of Top Gear’s fans, who have been trolling Chris Evans, as they did Sue Perkins before him.
“I hated that, yes, I found that very depressing. People are saying, “This new Top Gear is going to be all political correctness and health and safety and I won’t be watching it. It might be brilliant. It might be naked dancing girls and fireworks. You just don’t know. So for God’s sake, give it a go. I genuinely can’t wait, because I know Chris a bit and he’s mad obviously, but in a constructive and driven and dynamic way. You’ve got two new fresh car shows where there used to be one and they will be egging each other on a bit, so who loses? No one, as far as I can see.”