It appears that TV chef James Martin is about to be offered his dream job – presenting Top Gear. Sources have revealed that the self-confessed petrolhead will meet with BBC executives next week to discuss the role, which will see him in the driving seat to replace Chris Evans, who quit last month after a single series.
James is desperate for the job and was disappointed to be overlooked when the new team replaced Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, according to the source. The apparent snub is believed to have annoyed the Yorkshireman who took more work with rival ITV as a result. He is currently fronting This Morning on a Friday, standing in for Eamonn Holmes. He is also filming an ITV cooking show in France to be shown later this year.
An insider said: “James’ nose was put out of joint when he didn’t get the Top Gear job last time around. He felt he was perfect for it and should have at least been considered.”
James certainly has the car credentials to overtake many other candidates for the plum Top Gear role. He has used the money earned from TV appearances and cookery books, hotels and restaurants to build up an enviable collection of cars. Among his 20 motors are two Ferrari Daytonas, three F1 cars and a Shelby Mustang.
Last year, James opened up about his two loves. “I have two passions, cars and cooking. I’ve been into cars ever since I was a small boy growing up in Yorkshire. At first it was toy cars, but the bug really bit the first time I was allowed to drive the tractor on our farm. It was an old Massey Ferguson, one of those with a metal seat, and I must have been eight or nine. After that there was no holding me back. I saved my pocket money and eventually had enough to buy an old Mini – £20 it cost. I was still too young to drive on the roads, so I painted some flames on the side and spent my time rallying it around the farm.”
Last week James was coy about his chances of fronting Top Gear. He said: “Apparently I’m the bookies’ favourite. I walked past a bookies in Leeds and saw my name on there, and I thought, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’ I was top of the list. But the phone hasn’t rung yet.”
It is understood the BBC is negotiating with Evans’ former co-host and Friends star Matt LeBlanc about being the lead presenter. LeBlanc told a US show: “I’d like to. There’s nothing officially happening yet. Follow the BBC.”