Jeremy Clarkson is set to be replaced in the last episode of Top Gear - by an elephant called Jeremy from Hull. The controversial presenter’s contract was not renewed by the BBC after a high-profile fracas with a producer on the show earlier this year. However, two remaining unscreened episodes in the current series will be shown by the BBC on of this month.
The final episode filmed in an eerily empty TY studio instead of Clarkson, there was literally an elephant in the room, as a life-size model pachyderm loomed large behind May and Hammond, in silent homage to their absent friend.
Footage featuring Clarkson already filmed before the popular motoring show was taken off air will be included in the final episode. In April a source close to the show said: “There is some great stuff that fans would love. However there is a very big elephant in the room, or not in the room – namely Jeremy Clarkson.”
Last month in an interview on Radio 2’s Chris Evans show, Clarkson confirmed the plans to air two unseen shows now believed to be merged into one final farewell episode. He said: “They weren’t the strongest shows we’ve ever done but they weren’t bad and you will get to see them.
“I think they'll have to present them with an actual elephant in the room," he said.
“They are being edited. They belong to the licence fee payer, so they should be shown. You paid for them, so you should get to see them. For those who do like [Top Gear], there will be one last hurrah.”
Now the Mail can reveal the actual elephant replacing Clarkson is a life-sized replica normally found minding his own business on an industrial estate in west Hull. It forms part of collection of animal models owned by commercial design consultant Andrew Fenton, who runs Inter Tech Media in Saltmarsh Court in Priory Park. Mr Fenton: “I literally got a call out of the blue from the Top Gear production team asking if they could borrow one of my elephants. “At first I thought they just wanted a baby one but when I told them I also had a life-sized African elephant they virtually snapped my hand off.
“We had only just secured the elephant to a new area of decking so we had to unscrew all the fastenings so he could be loaded up onto the back of lorry before being transported all the way to the Top Gear studios at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. “Because it was all hush-hush, we even had to arrange for it to be covered in giant sheet while it was on the lorry just to make sure no-one could see what was going on when it arrived there.”
The elephant’s brush with stardom lasted 24 hours before being driven back to Hull, with city-based haulage firm AAA Transport providing the lorry for the job. “We’ve decided to call him Jeremy and will probably be putting up a plaque to mark his TV debut,” said Mr Fenton. “With all the secrecy surrounding it, we’ve got no idea how much he will feature on the programme but we’re looking forward to watching him in action.”
Andy Fenton with the new Top Gear star Jeremy the Elephant at InterTech in Hull
Top Gear fans loved "elephant in the room" as Richard Hammond and James May present the show without Jeremy Clarkson.
Top Gear fans couldn't get enough of the Elephant in the room, or should we say studio, on tonight's show. Richard Hammond and James May presented their final show without Jeremy Clarkson, who was sacked for a fracas with a producer, and during the motoring programme they stood in front of a huge elephant figure.
Fans of the BBC Two show enjoyed the massive mammal's presence with many putting two and two together and suggesting it was of course a reference to there being no mention as to why Jeremy was not co-hosting with them.