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James May ‘quietly contemplating’ early retirement

James May is ‘quietly contemplating’ early retirement (Ian West/PA)
James May is ‘quietly contemplating’ early retirement (Ian West/PA)

James May has said he suspects retirement is “not far off” as he approaches his 60th birthday.

The TV presenter, 59, who fronts The Grand Tour with his former Top Gear co-stars Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, also presents a successful unscripted travelogue series on Amazon Prime Video.

May told the Radio Times he is “scared of there being more behind me than in front of me” as he approaches a milestone birthday in January.

He said: “A very close friend of mine died a few weeks ago. He retired early, because he’d always had this fear that his family isn’t very long-lived, and he wanted to swap possessions for experiences and knowledge.

Radio Times
(Radio Times/PA)

“That’s what he started doing, but unfortunately he got cancer and it killed him.

“It was quite interesting thinking about that after he’d gone because it takes a certain amount of courage to say, ‘No, I don’t want to telegraph my success and my sophistication. I simply want to have a nice life and contemplate the mystery and wonder of God’s creation.’”

When asked if he is planning to retire and sell off his cars, May added: “It’s something I’m quietly contemplating, and I suspect it’s not far off.”

The presenter also revealed that he has inched away from his love of cars following the UK’s national lockdown which diminished leisure time.

The Grand Tour
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond during filming of The Grand Tour (Amazon Prime Vidoe/PA)

He said: “During that time I couldn’t do quite a lot of hobbies that I thought were very important to me, like flying aeroplanes and running motorcycles.

“But I found that as we eased out of the pandemic, I didn’t start doing them again very much.

“I got heavily back into riding my bicycle. I’ve always liked riding bicycles, but I started using it for everything and riding it every day. And I think that might actually make me feel better.”

May’s latest project, Our Man In Italy, follows the success of Our Man In Japan, a six-part unscripted series during which he travelled across all of the country.

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