James May ‘wouldn’t rule out’ new shows with Clarkson and Hammond

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By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

TV presenter James May has said he is open to filming new projects with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.

Reports earlier this year suggested the trio had filmed their final edition of the Grand Tour for Amazon Prime Video.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, which he was guest editing, May said: “We’ve filmed the last one, for now.”

Asked if they could be reunited, he said: “I wouldn’t rule it out, but you do have to bear in mind that we’re all getting on a bit.”

He explained: “We’ve got two [episodes of the Grand Tour] in the bag, there’s one coming out very soon, and another coming out a bit after that, but what happens between now and then we’ll have to wait and see.”

“I suppose that makes me technically unemployed,” he joked, “I can hear the cheers rolling around the country.”

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Asked if there may be new projects in the future for the trio, who first worked together on the BBC’s Top Gear from 2003 to 2015, he said: “I can’t reveal that because the brutal truth is I don’t know yet. But I do still speak to them.”

When Today presenter Justin Webb asked if he would like to continue working with them on a new show, May replied: “It depends what it was.

“Part of our conversation has always been how we land it with grace rather than fly it into a cliff.”

He continued: “I do think that despite us obviously coming to the end of our time doing this and the cancellation of Top Gear, there has never been a better time [for there to be a motoring programme].

“Things like the future of autonomous cars, new means of powering cars, a change of general attitudes towards cars and driving, there’s never been a better time for a car show. And the car show itself needs reinvention.”

‘Behaving like hooligans’

Top Gear is currently on pause after current host Freddie Flintoff was injured during filming. Hammond was also previously involved in a serious crash when he, May and Clarkson were on the show.

Asked about health and safety on motoring programmes, May said: “I think we did used to take it very seriously, and continue to. There’s our own safety, which is one thing, but also safe driving.

“People say, ‘you encourage bad driving you’re responsible for a culture of yobbery on the road, but I don’t think so, because people were having crashes long before Top Gear or the Grand Tour existed.

“And also, we used to behave like hooligans on things like race circuits, our own test track, off-road, you never saw us driving stupidly on the roads.

He added: “I’ve always maintained, and I think the other two would agree with me, that my remaining ambition in motoring is not to own a Bugatti, it’s to get to the end of my life without running over anybody, because that’s the most laudable one.”

May, Clarkson and Hammond hosted Top Gear until 2015, when the trio left the BBC after Clarkson punched a producer.

They were then snapped up by Amazon and launched The Grand Tour, which started as a similar studio-based format before transitioning into a string of one-off specials filmed around the world.

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May hosted what many see as Top Gear’s golden era

May also used his edition of Today to discuss the increasing popularity of cycling – which has led to the construction of more cycle lanes in recent years, to the annoyance of some drivers.

He said: “Despite what everybody says about segregating bicycles and pedestrians and cars, I don’t see why in an idealised world, all those things shouldn’t be able to co-exist in the same space in perfect harmony, because the roads are a shared space, like parks, they’re equally open to anybody.

“And it’s the mark of a stylish cyclist or driver to be able to accommodate everybody else who’s out there, I don’t see why it should be a problem and I don’t see why we have to go to all these enormous efforts to try and circumvent a problem that could be cured by a change of attitude.”

Another item on May’s programme saw him explore the progress of autonomous cars and when they might be adopted in the UK.

“I don’t want to come across as a luddite or being anti-progress or anything, because I sincerely hope I’m not, but I think the myth of the driverless car has gone a bit out of control,” he said.

“In the popular imagination this totally autonomous, robotic car that you can send off by itself to collect your wayward children from the pub, or whatever, is just around the corner, and I don’t actually believe it is – that is a very long way off.”

May’s edition of the Today programme featured segments on the importance of hobbies, whether coffee culture is eroding the UK’s love of tea and his appreciation of poetry.

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