London – Speculation that ‘Top Gear’ may be moving to the BBC’s major rival increased after its former presenters held a secret meeting with a senior ITV executive.
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May visited ITV director of television Peter Fincham in west London on Wednesday evening, according to reports.
Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman, an old school friend of Clarkson who quit the BBC last month, also attended the clandestine rendezvous. ITV had previously said that it had “no plans” to enter negotiations with Clarkson after he was dropped from Top Gear in the wake of a fracas with producer Oisin Tymon.
The broadcaster is thought to have altered its position when co-presenters May and Hammond declared that they would also be leaving the programme following Clarkson’s sacking.
Another former colleague of Clarkson, Elaine Bedell, now director of comedy and entertainment at ITV, was also at the meeting, according to the Daily Mirror.
If Top Gear were to move across to its rival channel ITV, the programme would be forced to change its name.
But its five million-strong audience could celebrate its continuing presence on public television. The former Top Gear trio are also thought to be in negotiations with a streaming service, such as Netflix, the Mirror said.
Wednesday night’s covert meeting between the former Top Gear team and ITV is thought to be the first involving the presenters.
Previous discussions are said to have only involved Mr Wilman.
Last night ITV declined to comment on the prospect of signing up the Top Gear stars.