It just wouldn’t be the same without Clarkson. If fans of the show and casual observers can think so, what more Jeremy Clarkson’s fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May. True enough, May has now ruled out collaborating with a new face.

“Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it just wouldn’t work. That would be lame, or ‘awks’ as young people say,” 52-year old May told The Guardian.

UPDATE: The BBC has confirmed that Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman, an old school friend of Clarkson, has quit the show.

“It has to be the three of us. You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that,” he added.

BBC Two’s channel controller Kim Shillinglaw has been tasked to find a replacement for Clarkson, with former UK X Factor host Dermot O’Leary and fast driving model Jodie Kidd (both pictured below) rumoured to be in the running. With May’s recent comments, it looks like there will be an entirely new presenting line-up for the show instead of a fusion of old and new.

May did raise some hope for the TG that we know and love, though. “In the future when all this has blown over there might be an opportunity for three of us to get back together on the BBC to do Top Gear or a car show of some sort. The BBC haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return. 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,” Captain Slow said.

Shillinglaw confirmed this. “Jeremy will be back on the BBC. It is 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 out,” she said.

To recap, Clarkson was suspended and then later axed from Top Gear after he attacked producer Oisin Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him. The unprovoked physical attack, as BBC calls it, was apparently over the lack of hot food after a day’s filming.

Clarkson recently revealed in his Sunday Times column that he thought he probably had cancer at the day of the incident, and that it was his “most stressful day in 27 years at the BBC”. Tests came back negative.