James May has admitted Top Gear is no longer a show about cars and is on the verge of becoming a sitcom.
The 47-year-old co-presenter confirmed what many viewers have suspected - that he now plays a "character" in the hit BBC Two TV programme.
He told the Radio Times that the aspect of the long-running show which inevitably featured the trio of presenters - Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James - getting in a pickle, did irritate him.
James admitted: "It's really almost a sitcom now, so we are characters ... When I started, Top Gear was a car show about cars, and I was interested in the technology but also the sociology and the artistry of them ... the shapes and the colours. That was something I've always been into. But it's a different programme now, it's turned into something else."
James, who is nicknamed Captain Slow on Top Gear because of his driving style and his tendency to get lost, added: "Ultimately we do know what we're talking about and we do let that be known occasionally. Very subtly, every now and then, you think, 'Oh, actually, they do love their subject and they do know a bit about it'.
"And when we c**k about and everything goes wrong and we laugh about it, sometimes it winds me up. I think 'Oh, for God's sake, can't we do something properly that will work, not that has to catch fire or fall over'. But I think I'm probably alone on that."
James said he understood why he could not be himself on the flagship show, telling the magazine: "If I played the real me ... that wouldn't make a very good Top Gear."