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James May, 56, explained that his Top Gear colleague Jeremy Clarkson, 60, got into a heated argument with a BBC producer on set after facing “huge pressure” to keep viewers, with it being “the biggest factual entertainment show in history”. The motor expert claimed that something was always going to “boil over” as he compared the Top Gear presenters to rock and roll stars.
I was slightly annoyed
Jeremy’s contract on Top Gear was not renewed after he punched producer Oisin Tymon following his anger over dinner arrangements.
The columnist was said to be infuriated that he could not order a sirloin steak after a day of filming.
He is said to have called Oisin a “lazy, Irish ***” when he confronted him at a hotel in North Yorkshire.
James has now said of the row between the pair: “I was conflicted because it obviously wasn’t right, that was a bad moment, but everybody’s had one.
“They just tend not to be as public as his was, I was slightly annoyed.”
However, James justified Jeremy’s actions as being the result of “huge pressure” to keep up viewing figures.
He told the Out To Lunch podcast: “I hate the idea of being smug about it, but we were the world’s biggest factual entertainment show – the biggest one in history, possibly.
“At that point [in 2015] it was reckoned it had something like 350-360 million viewers.
“It’s a huge number, and there is a pressure to keep it up. Occasionally it will boil over in one way or another.”
James explained: “If we were AC/DC or Led Zeppelin, or The Rolling Stones and we were throwing up out the back of Rolls Royces or occasionally giving somebody a slap…
“Or if we were a professional football team misbehaving in a nightclub, people would go ‘oh that’s terrible, those rock stars…’
“It wasn’t really that different, being Top Gear. And on the whole, I think we behaved quite well,” he added.
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After Jeremy’s contract was not renewed, his fellow presenters including James and Richard Hammond stepped down from the programme.
The trio signed a contract with Amazon Prime to continue their on-screen partnership with The Grand Tour.
Since leaving the BBC programme, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris have taken over the presenting line-up.
The programme, which aired its new series last week on BBC One, faced criticism from some viewers who called it “childish”.
One viewer wrote: “I was really looking forward to TG but the stupid childish behaviour is just beyond words.”
While a second wrote: “Also, did the producers of #TopGear say to the presenters to turn up the stupid as it’ll get them views because this is c**p so far.”
However, others applauded the show and its new format.
“Howling at the karaoke! Brilliant start to the new series,” tweeted one fan, in response to the presenters’ musical interlude at a service station in Bolton, while they were competing in a 24-hour company car test.
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