James May says he and Richard Hammond would not return to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson.  The co-host suggested that the motoring show without its long-time presenter would be "a bit of a daft idea."

James MayJames May says he would not return to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson

It has been assumed that the BBC are looking for a replacement to front the show alongside May and Hammond, though the 54-year-old told the Guardian he would not be returning.

"Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter. It has to be the three of us," he told the Guardian.

"I don't think you could carry on with two people and put someone in as the new Jeremy because they are not going to be the new Jeremy. That would be short-sighted and I don't think it would work. Virtually impossible."

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Clarkson was removed the presenting duties on the BBC show after assaulting producer Oisin Tymon.

May and Hammond's contracts with the BBC expired last month and the latest comments further raise the possibility of an entirely new presenting line-up for the motoring show.

May also suggested that he, Hammond and Clarkson could set up an entirely new motoring show at the BBC, given Clarkson has not been banned from the corporation.

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"The BBC haven't completely closed the door on Jeremy's return," he said, "They've not banned him or fired him, only just not renewed his contract for the moment. It's a subtle difference, but an important one."

Dermot O'Leary remains the bookmakers' favourite to become the new host of Top Gear.