Could Jeremy Clarkson Return to ‘Top Gear’?

BBC series could sure use those old guys back

Last Updated: August 24, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

Could Jeremy Clarkson return as host of BBC’s “Top Gear” just one year after he was fired for punching a producer? What had once seemed unthinkable now looks like a possibility.

Former BBC boss Mark Thompson this week told Britain’s Sunday Times Magazine said kicking Clarkson out at the curb was a mistake.

And the show’s been on the downslide since Clarkson’s departure — without an emergency brake.

Ratings have tanked, with the recent season’s finale pulling in a mere 1.9 million viewers in the U.K. Last season, per the Telegraph — the Clarkson-led program averaged 6.49 million viewers per episode.

Plus, the host slot has become a bit of a revolving door.

Not only did Richard Hammond and James May followed their boy Clarkson out the door last year, but even Clarkson’s replacement, BBC radio host Chris Evans, has already quit “Top Gear.”

And when the show’s other new co-host, Matt LeBlanc was asked recently about doing more of the BBC series, the former “Friends” star simply said, “I don’t know — call the BBC.”

TheWrap did just that. A BBC America spokesperson told us that there are no plans to make any changes to the presenting line-up.

Amazon, which is planning a fall premiere of Clarkson’s new auto-themed show, “The Grand Tour” — also with Hammond and May — did not reply to our requests for comment.

“I’m not sure what’s happening with ‘Top Gear’ just yet, but this is my priority,” LeBlanc added during the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, referring to his new CBS family comedy “Man With a Plan.”

He sounds really enthusiastic about his new gig.

Additionally, Evans and LeBlanc are either friends or foes — it depends whom you ask. In other words, the failure of the Evans experiment could work either way with the “Episodes” star.

Amazon gave the former “Top Gear” trio a three-year deal, but “The Grand Tour” hasn’t exactly garnered much buzz — will fans of the free BBC franchise subscribe and pay for a Prime Video knockoff version? That remains to be seen.

And for whatever reason, “Grand Tour” was nearly non-existent at Amazon’s TCA promotional day, which is the traditional time for networks to give new fall series a push.

So could Clarkson return to “Top Gear?” Well, he probably wouldn’t do so without Hammond and May, since those two have proven loyal. The BBC has also removed another potential roadblock: The producer that Clarkson decked, Oisin Tymon, is no longer a part of the series. The two have also settled their lawsuit.

As long as the BBC has fixed its catering issues — the original reason behind the verbal and physical attack — perhaps anything is possible.

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