The long-running executive director of Top Gear denies he is planning to leave the show, the Guardian reports, despite sending an email to staff saying “at least we left ’em wanting more.”
The future of the hugely popular BBC motoring show has been plunged into doubt after star presenter Jeremy Clarkson was effectively fired last week following a “fracas” in which he allegedly punched a producer.
Andy Wilman helped relaunch the in 2002 following its cancellation the previous year, and helped build it into the global success it is today. He and Clarkson are also close, having attended school together.
In an email obtained by Jalopnik, Wilman told staff who work on the show that “when you’re feeling low in your working day at any point, look around at some of the crap on TV, then have a think about Top Gear, 2002-2015, and say to yourself: ‘I made that.'”
However, the executive director denies that this means he’s leaving. “The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption. It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years, but clearly one of those 113 is a bit of a tit, because they shared it with a website,” he said.
“I don’t get this modern obsession with sharing, linking, forwarding, re tweeting; whatever happened to a private moment? And if I were to resign, I wouldn’t do it publicly, I’d do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR.”
Similarly, a BBC spokesperson told the Guardian that the email “was intended as a heartfelt message to people who had worked with him and Jeremy, to recognise the fact that with Jeremy leaving it was the end of an era… It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure.”
Despite this, the tone of the email suggests that the BBC intends to continue running the show — without Wilman’s involvement. “Don’t worry, because the BBC will make sure the show continues,” he tells staff. “Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show’s history, not the whole of it.”
It’s currently unclear whether the other presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, will remain on the show now Clarkson has left. May recently launched an “unemployment channel” on YouTube featuring videos of himself playing the recorder while hungover.
Well, at least we left ’em wanting more. And that alone, when you think about it, is quite an achievement for a show that started 13 years ago. I know none of us wanted it to end this way, but for a moment I’d like us to look back and think about just what an incredible thing you all had a hand in creating. When Jane Root gave us the green light in 2002, the brief was to reinvigorate a car show and get an audience of three million. What you all ended up making was one of the most iconic programmes in TV history, a show about cars that went global, won countless awards, was devoured by non car fans and ended up in the Guinness Book of Records.
We had a lot of laughs, we had a lot of tiffs. We went to amazing places and we went to some shitholes. We nearly killed a presenter, we had to run for the border. We started off with whoever we could get in the Reasonably Priced Car, and ended up with Tom Cruise. Throughout all this we made television that was beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to. The work ethic never slipped, the desire for everyone in this dysfunctional family to do right by the show never faltered. Jeremy, Richard and James, as the visible tip of the iceberg, got most of the attention and praise, but you all in your own fields had such an immense hand in weaving this unforgettable tapestry. I would love to single out everybody by name to thank them for what they did, but it’s impossible and I’d forget someone I shouldn’t have and that would be crap, so I’ll just say Jim, I’m sorry we never got a bear to drive an automatic.
For those of you who still rely on it for work, don’t worry, because the BBC will make sure the show continues. Our stint as guardians of Top Gear was a good one, but we were only part of the show’s history, not the whole of it. Those two words are bigger than us.
Anyway, when you’re feeling low in your working day at any point, look around at some of the crap on TV, then have a think about Top Gear, 2002- 2015, and say to yourself: “I made that.”
A big, big, big thank you, which will never be enough.
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