His denial follows the leaking of an email he sent Monday to the show’s staff with the subject-line “Au revoir,” which suggested he was walking away from the show. The email was sent following the BBC’s decision last week not to renew the contract of the show’s lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, who has been friends with Wilman since they attended the same private school.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Wilman said that he was not leaving the show. “The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement,” he said. “It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years.”
He added: “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.”
In Monday’s leaked email, Wilman had started by saying: “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.”
He continued: “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.”
He stated that the staff had created “one of the most iconic programs in TV history, a show about cars that went global.”
He also reassured staff that the show would go on. “For those of you who still rely on it for work, don’t worry, because the BBC will make sure the show continues,” he wrote. “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.”