Top Gear
Top Gear presenters (from left) Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (BBC)

Sacked Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson will be given one last lap of the programme's track as the BBC intends to broadcast footage recorded before he was dismissed for punching a producer.

Kim Shillinglaw, the controller of BBC Two, who has been given the job of salvaging the beleaguered show, said last night that she believed Clarkson would appear on the BBC again in the future in other projects but "needs some time", adding that "any human being would".

According to a report in The Times, Shillinglaw said it was a "challenge" to reinvent the format without Clarkson, adding that the new presenter could be female.

"I'm not really thinking about it in terms of gender," she said. "I don't think I've ever approached an individual show thinking that's the way you cast it. I think it's a really open book on that. We'll definitely look at some women, but it's not the driving priority."

Asked about the three postponed Top Gear episodes, she said that they "will definitely make it to air . . . certainly this year and probably this summer".

And on that bombshell...