James May said it will be a “shame” if the BBC does not give Top Gear a “rethink”.
The 60-year-old, who used to present the long-running motoring show with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, spoke after the corporation said the hit series will be off air for the “foreseeable future”.
May told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the decision is “very sad”.
But he said: “It does need a bit of a rethink. It’s time for a new format and a new approach to the subject because the subject has not been this interesting, I suspect, since the car was invented.
“And it would be a shame if an organisation like the BBC didn’t have something to say about it.”
Asked what a new format could involve, May said he and his co-presenters Clarkson and Hammond “already” fill a gap for a show of this type on Prime Video.
He said that when the trio created The Grand Tour after leaving Top Gear to 2015, the latter followed a “similar format to the way we left it”.
“I’m not saying I know what it is but there must be one,” May said. “There must be another way of doing a show about cars that will embrace more fulsomely many of the questions being asked of cars that weren’t being asked of cars.”
He said this could involve a “greater scrutiny” of cars, including the way the vehicles are powered, and said: “You could still do that in an entertaining and informative kind of way.”
Top Gear’s production has been halted since host Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, 45, was taken to hospital in December 2022.
The former England cricket captain was badly hurt in an accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.
May also said he is “a bit” annoyed that fans of Top Gear think he, Hammond and Clarkson should return to the series.
He said: “The people who watch car shows – I’m quite happy with there being several car shows, I think that’s healthy – but some people are very much us or very much the new Top Gear.
“But there are a lot of people saying, ‘Oh well they’ve done that wrong and now you can come back in and rescue it’.
“And I’m thinking, ‘The bloke’s hurt himself very badly, in a life-changing way, obviously, and you could perhaps not use it as an opportunity to be partisan. You could perhaps just say, “Rotten bit of luck, hope you get well soon”’.”
In September, Flintoff was photographed for the first time in public since the crash and had visible facial injuries as he joined up with the England cricket squad for their one-day international series against New Zealand.
He has since made a gradual return to the public eye and last week it was announced that the father-of-four has been appointed as head coach of the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred.
In a statement given to the PA news agency on Tuesday, the BBC said it is “excited about new projects being developed” with the current presenting line-up of Flintoff, former Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness and automotive journalist Chris Harris.
In addition, BBC Studios said a health and safety production review of Top Gear, which did not cover the accident but looked at previous seasons, found that there were “important learnings which would need to be rigorously applied to future Top Gear UK productions”.
A statement said: “The report includes a number of recommendations to improve approaches to safety as Top Gear is a complex programme-making environment routinely navigating tight filming schedules and ambitious editorial expectations – challenges often experienced by long-running shows with an established on and off screen team.
“Learnings included a detailed action plan involving changes in the ways of working, such as increased clarity on roles and responsibilities and better communication between teams for any future Top Gear production.”