The Top Gear saga has just taken an awkward twist after Jeremy Clarkson claimed that he was asked to return to the hit BBC motoring show days before Chris Evans was announced as his successor.
Speaking to The Sun, the 55-year-old star said that that an unnamed BBC executive had invited him to make a comeback, almost three months after he was axed from the show.
"I had a meeting with a BBC executive last week and they asked if I'd come back to Top Gear," he said.
But despite the Bring Back Clarkson petition getting the backing from over one million people, he said he declined the offer because a return was "never an option".
"It would have been impossible to make the show I'd want to make," he said. "Too much has gone on. After I'd been compared to Jimmy Savile by someone from the BBC and it was splashed all over a Sunday newspaper, how could I go back?
"The spotlight would have been on me and the show would end up being neutered. It would be difficult to do anything without interference. It would have been impossible to make the show I'd want to make.
The BBC recently announced that Chris Evans would be leading an all-new line-up, with the hope of revamping the show, but Clarkson suggested that they may have just been settling after the snub.
"I think they knew this [no way he could come back] so that's why they gave the job to Chris so soon after I met them."
The BBC has since denied the claims, insisting that it hadn't "offered another Top Gear contract"..
"The BBC had placed on record its thanks to Jeremy for his broadcasting on the programme and wish him well for the future," spokesperson said.
Clarkson was suspended in March after allegedly punching Oisin Tymon, one of the show's producers, during a row over catering during location filming in Newcastle.
The incident occurred just months after the 55-year-old star was given a "final warning" by the broadcaster in 2014 for using racist language.