James May claims 'wokeness' led to him being 'fired' from TV role as bosses 'needed a woman'

James May with Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson

The Grand Tour host James May with co-stars Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 23/08/2023

- 15:06

Updated: 24/08/2023

- 11:51

The 60-year-old is currently a host on The Grand Tour alongside Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson

James May has been a familiar face to motoring enthusiasts for decades now having fronted the BBC's Top Gear and now Amazon's The Grand Tour.

However, before becoming a household name as part of the famous presenting trio alongside Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson, May took part in '90s motoring show, Driven.

May starred in the Channel 4 show's debut season alongside Mike Brewer and Jason Barlow but left after just one run.

The show then welcomed the likes of Jason Plato and Penny Mallory to the fray following May's exit while he went on to front Top Gear.

However, in a recent podcast chat with Plato and Dave Vitty, May reminisced about his time on Driven and the circumstances surrounding his departure.

"I did series one of Driven with the other Jason [Barlow] and Mike Brewer, but I only did it for one series because after that I got fired like I did from everywhere else," he began.

James May, Hammond and Clarkson

The trio fronted Top Gear for over a decade before switching to Amazon's The Grand Tour


Vitty and Plato laughed at May's claims during the conversation of their podcast Fuelling Around before Plato quizzed: "I must've jumped in your shoes then."

May explained, however: "Well, actually I think Penny Mallory officially took my place."

After the trio discussed who exactly Plato "replaced", May continued: "I think they got you in because you could drive.

"Whereas we could just talk b*****s about them, to be honest," May quipped.

He went on: "I can tell you the story behind this now because a long time has passed but we did one series, it was... I did watch a bit the other day for the first time in many, many years.

"And it was quite good, we came up with a few original ideas like the three-header group nest and the news section inside the truck.

"Those were ideas that, shall we say, reappeared elsewhere," he remarked. "But after series one, this was an early bit of wokeness, they thought this programme is not quite right because it's got three white blokes all the same age...

When Plato queried if those were the reasons behind his exit, May stood firm: "No, they told me! They needed a woman. They needed to have a woman."

The former Top Gear star continued: "So they couldn't really get rid of Mike Brewer because he had his other shows and he was very popular.

"They couldn't really get rid of Jason because he was being groomed for greater things and he was going to become the editor of Car Magazine and all the rest of it.

James May

James May found fame on Top Gear shortly after Driven


"So the only target left was me so I was out the door and that was it really. I got fired from everything in the old days so I was used to it."

May went on to front Top Gear for over a decade alongside Clarkson and May until a famous incident in 2015 led to Clarkson's contract not being renewed by the Beeb.

Clarkson was accused of assaulting a BBC producer during filming for series 22 of the motoring show and his exit prompted May and Hammond to follow.

The trio, along with close friend and producer Andy Wilman, found a new home on Amazon and The Grand Tour was born in 2016.

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