The executive producer of The Grand Tour has said it would be impossible for the show to continue if even one of the presenting trio quit.
Andy Wilman said he “couldn’t conceive” of replacing either Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond or James May.
Wilman was executive producer of Top Gear from 2002 to 2015, but left to join the men in setting up The Grand Tour with Amazon Prime Video.
He told the PA news agency: “No way. How would you slot someone in? Because you would have to slot them in and they would have to start having a character straight away.
“How is someone going to take the piss out of James? Say James won, how are they going to start taking the piss out of Jeremy and Richard? That would be expected instantly.
“If you think about it with Top Gear, everyone forgets that it took two years for their relationship to become what it is now.
“That wouldn’t happen on any broadcaster. The BBC let that run.
“For them to get to that point – Captain Slow and accident-prone Richard – it took two years or so to get to the point where it was organic, where it is the same in the pub as it is on camera.
“I couldn’t conceive of doing it with anybody else. It is impossible.”
Wilman also said that despite his boisterous public persona, Clarkson cares deeply about maintaining his friendships.
He said: “Jeremy cares about that stuff. You see the bombast, you see the noise.
He cares about that stuff more than his persona would have you believeAndy Wilman
“But he likes his friendships. He actually really likes his friendships and he really does want everyone to be together.
“He cares about that stuff more than his persona would have you believe.
“So that’s on one level – the emotional, no-cameras level.
“Number two, if we are not working as a group like that, what’s the show going to work like?
“If we all get to the point where we are just doing it by numbers, we’re f*****.”
Alongside his The Grand Tour co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May, Clarkson swaps the road for the sea in The Grand Tour’s Christmas special.
The Grand Tour Presents: Seamen will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Friday December 13.