Hammond and May set to reject lucrative BBC offer
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Richard Hammond and James May are set to snub a new £4 million BBC deal to return to Top Gear and rejoin their fellow co-star Jeremy Clarkson on US subscription channel Netflix.
Hammond and May have said they are unwilling to return to the hit BBC 2 show without their long-time co-star Clarkson and have told friends they are willing to switch networks.
The trio fronted the BBC's most lucrative money-spinning TV show which was worth an estimated £40 million from overseas sales and merchandising.
The BBC has been slow to announce a replacement for Clarkson, although they have claimed the show will continue.
According to the Sunday Mirror, a source close to Hammond and May said they were on the verge of signing for Netflix.
Netflix is a major online TV provider and would allow the trio to fully exploit the commercial value of any new show as they would not have the same restrictions as the BBC.
The source said: 'Flattering though it is to be offered huge sums there'll be no going back. It wouldn't feel right and their heart wouldn't be in it.
'They've always said they come as a team and that hasn't changed.'
Both Hammond and May have filmed additional scenes for a couple of Top Gear films shot before Clarkson's 'fracas' with producer Oisin Tymon which led to the current crisis.
The BBC is expected to broadcast two final episodes using the unused footage and the new scenes before a final decision is made about the future of the show.
source added: 'Clarkson had his faults, but his importance to the show cannot be understated. He wrote it, came up with ideas and was its heart. It will need about three or four good operators to replace him.'
However, according to the Sunday Times newspaper, James May admitted that all three Top Gear stars could still reappear on the BBC.
He wrote: 'Nothing has been decided and none of us has agreed to do anything for anybody - as far as I know.
'I am genuinely uncertain about what to do next, and may do something entirely different, including giving up TV completely. TV may, of course, give me up,' he added.
Clarkson is understood to be returning as a guest host on BBC quiz show Have I Got News for You, and is believed to have also filmed an episode of QI, also for the BBC.
Interestingly, the BBC did not 'sack' Clarkson following the incident earlier this year and instead, failed to renew his contract.
Meanwhile, the Top Gear trio - including Jeremy Clarkson - are together again on stage as part of a show tour, which has been renamed Clarkson, Hammond and May Live.
Former model Jodie Kidd was, earlier this year, made the bookies favourite to take Clarkson's place on the BBC show after she was seen drinking with the 55-year-old, who was sacked for punching producer Tymon in a row over a hot dinner after filming.
BBC DJ Chris Evans has also revealed he will ths week shoot a secret Top Gear film with an independent production company.
The DJ has been among the favourites to replace Clarkson on the hit show, but has repeatedly ruled himself out of the show.
- Daily Mail