The BBC wanted to press ahead with the final three episodes in the present season without Clarkson, while an investigation is carried out into allegations that he punched the show’s producer Oisin Tymon, according to a BBC executive.
The episodes would have used several recorded segments with Clarkson, and another with May and Hammond in the studio, but negotiations stalled, the unnamed source told the Daily Mirror.
“They didn’t want to do it without Jeremy, so the talks didn’t get off the ground. There is a feeling that it is all of them or none of them,” the exec said.
The investigation into the altercation, which is believed to have been sparked by the failure of the producer to organize a steak dinner at the end of a day’s filming, is being carried out by Ken MacQuarrie, head of BBC Scotland.
MacQuarrie will deliver his report next week to BBC director general Tony Hall, who will decide Clarkson’s fate. Clarkson is already on a final warning after he used racist language while shooting the show.
The BBC is also focusing on the role of the show’s exec producer Andy Wilman, who has been a close friend of Clarkson’s since they went to the same private school together. According to one report, a BBC executive is going to be put above Wilman in order to keep Clarkson in check.
“I think that people do see a way to resolve this, and that is by putting someone strong in to manage the show and manage Clarkson. He is a brilliant broadcaster — everyone can see that,” a senior BBC figure said.