Richard Hammond is sticking by his Top Gear colleagues Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
Hammond has taken to Twitter to clarify his position, saying: “To be clear amidst all this talk of us ‘quitting’ or not: there’s nothing for me to ‘quit’. Not about to quit my mates anyway”.
May is certain that when the Clarkson “incident” blows over BBC bosses will eventually invite him back and revive Top Gear or create another car show.
“The BBC haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return,” May said. “They’ve not banned him or fired him, only just not renewed his contract for the moment.
“It’s a subtle difference but an important one … (it’s just a) light kicking … not excluding him from the club.”
The broadcaster dismissed the hugely popular but controversial Clarkson in March, after a BBC investigation found him guilty of an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on producer Oisin Tymon that was “halted by the intervention of a witness”.
Speaking to The Guardian, May said: “Me and (Richard) Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it just wouldn’t work. That would be lame, or ‘awks’ as young people say.”
There was further fallout this week after the executive producer of the top-rating motoring show also quit.
Andy Wilman had previously denied he was leaving when a leaked email suggested he was, but BBC confirmed his departure on Friday.
“Wilman, who was an old school friend of Clarkson, helped reinvent the show and oversaw its growth into a globally successful program,” it said.
The makers of the program, which draws more than 250 million viewers around the world, would not confirm if Wilman’s exit was related to Clarkson’s sacking.
Clarkson, who had generated both controversy and profits for Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster, had been on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show.
Last October the show sparked a diplomatic incident between Britain and Argentina, which went to war in 1982 over the Falkland Islands.
A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands.