Belfast Telegraph

Ongoing conversations private - BBC

The BBC executive tasked with finding a replacement for former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has refused to rule out a return to the show for his co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond.

BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw told The Media Show on Radio 4: "C onversations are ongoing with James and Richard about a whole variety of projects at the BBC and while those conversations are ongoing I think that they have to remain private".

Asked by host Steve Hewlett if there was "a chance" the pair might come back, she said: "Now that we are where we are, this is a really creatively exciting moment, it's a really good time to look at the show and all aspects of it."

Earlier today it emerged C larkson had shared a drink with one of the people tipped to replace him behind the wheel of the show - model Jodie Kidd.

The pair were outside a London pub with daytime TV host Penny Smith.

Kidd was one of the front-runners to take on the job of presenting the hit motoring show, according to bookmakers, who also tipped motorcycle racer-turned TV star Guy Martin among the favourites.

C larkson was suspended from the show after he attacked producer Oisin Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him, before the BBC allowed his contract to lapse.

Hammond and May are believed to have also left the show along with producer Andy Wilman and are expected to launch a rival show with another broadcaster.

Last week, Ms Shillinglaw said Clarkson would return to the corporation at some point.

She said: "Jeremy will be back on the BBC.

"It's serious and unfortunate what happened but there is no ban on Jeremy being on the BBC.

"It's a big deal what happened and Jeremy, as any human being would, needs some time."

She also confirmed that scenes filmed before Clarkson was suspended were likely to air this summer, saying: "No way would I want the available material not to be seen by viewers."

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