BBC denies Jeremy Clarkson was asked back to Top Gear

The former motoring presenter said he turned down a job offer from the BBC after being compared to DJ Jimmy Savile

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The Independent Culture

Just three days after Chris Evans was unveiled as his replacement, Jeremy Clarkson has claimed he was asked to return to Top Gear but rejected the BBC’s offer.

The controversial presenter, whose contract on the motoring show was allowed to expire in March after he punched his producer Oisin Tymon during a row, told the Sun that a BBC executive offered to reinstate him just last week.

Clarkson claims he turned down the position because of what had happened following his departure, including being compared by the corporation to paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile.

"I had a meeting with a BBC executive last week and they asked if I'd come back to Top Gear,” the 55 year old reportedly said.

"But it was never an option, even with the one million people signing the Bring Back Clarkson petition - for which I was extremely humbled.

"Too much has gone on. After I'd been compared to Jimmy Savile by someone from the BBC and it was splashed all over a Sunday newspaper, how could I go back?

"The spotlight would have been on me and the show would end up being neutered. It would be difficult to do anything without interference. It would have been impossible to make the show I'd want to make."

A BBC spokesman said: "We haven't offered another Top Gear contract and the BBC had placed on record its thanks to Jeremy for his broadcasting on the programme and wish him well for the future."

Former TFI Friday host and Radio 2 DJ Evans was unveiled as the new face of Top Gear on Tuesday and has since revealed he is to hold auditions to find a co-host.

Yesterday he called on Top Gear fans to send in short audition clips for a job on the show, as he admitted he has been terrified of losing his driving licence since landing the presenter role.

The DJ, who is a keen petrolhead, said that he had "never driven more carefully" since getting the hosting job.

He told candidates they needed to have an "appetite, hunger and need" to host the motoring show, and to send in videos of themselves from the waist up, with "no stunts, no gimmicks" or cars, behaving as they would if they were on the show.

BBC Two controller Kim Shillinglaw yesterday played down suggestions that the new co-host will be a woman after Evans told BBC Radio 5 live that the new line up would “definitely” include a female presenter.

Clarkson’s former Top Gear co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May have previously ruled out returning to work on the car programme without him.

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