Jeremy Clarkson claims the BBC offered him a return to Top Gear but he turned it down because the corporation had compared him to Jimmy Savile. The 55-year-old said he was asked by a senior executive to return to the motoring show but declined because "too much had gone on."

Jeremy ClarksonJeremy Clarkson said the BBC wanted him back on Top Gear

"I had a meeting with a BBC executive last week and they asked if I'd come back to Top Gear," he told the Sun.

"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.

"I think they knew this so that's why they gave the job to Chris so soon after I met them."

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"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?"

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."

Radio 2 breakfast show Chris Evans will replace Clarkson as lead presenter on the revamped show, with the BBC holding open auditions to find his co-presenters. Richard Hammond and James May said they will not be returning despite the BBC's best efforts to keep them. 

Meanwhile, the daytime TV presenter Nick Knowles said  he rejected the chance to replace Clarkson because he was too busy.

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