James May details how ‘Jeremy Clarkson getting annoyed’ sparked own career move

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James May, 56, revealed that his colleague Jeremy Clarkson losing his temper behind the scenes of Top Gear after “not getting a steak” for dinner is what sparked the idea to launch his own culinary show Oh Cook!. The amateur chef, who worked with the columnist on Top Gear for 12 years, admitted he started cooking after becoming “unemployed” from the programme.

Led me to make a cookery show

James May

James told Radio Times: “I was essentially unemployed, and a bit bored.”

He originally turned to YouTube and filmed himself cooking under the guise of JM’s unemployment tube.

The star quickly built up a strong viewership as he attempted to make simple dishes such as shepherd’s pie, poached eggs on toast and a carbonara.

He later began to produce far more produced and polished videos for FoodTribe before Amazon stepped in and offered him a series.

James divulged: “So in a way, Jeremy Clarkson getting annoyed about not having a steak has led to me making a cooking show.”

Jeremy’s contract on Top Gear was not renewed after he punched producer Oisin Tymon over dinner arrangements.

The columnist was reported to be infuriated that he could not order a sirloin steak after a day of filming.

 Jeremy is said to have called Oisin a “lazy, Irish ***”  when he confronted the producer at a hotel in North Yorkshire.

James has now said of the row between the pair: “I was conflicted because it obviously wasn’t right, that was a bad moment, but everybody’s had one.

“They just tend not to be as public as his was, I was slightly annoyed,” he added on the Out To Lunch podcast.

However, James justified Jeremy’s actions as being the result of “huge pressure” to keep up viewing figures.

He continued: “I hate the idea of being smug about it, but we were the world’s biggest factual entertainment show – the biggest one in history, possibly.

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“At that point [in 2015] it was reckoned it had something like 350-360 million viewers.

“It’s a huge number, and there is a pressure to keep it up. Occasionally it will boil over in one way or another.”

James explained: “If we were AC/DC or Led Zeppelin, or The Rolling Stones and we were throwing up out the back of Rolls Royces or occasionally giving somebody a slap… 

“Or if we were a professional football team misbehaving in a nightclub, people would go, ‘Oh that’s terrible, those rock stars…’

“It wasn’t really that different, being Top Gear. And on the whole, I think we behaved quite well,” he added.

After Jeremy’s contract was not renewed, his fellow presenters including James and Richard Hammond stepped down from the programme. 

The trio signed a contract with Amazon Prime to continue their on-screen partnership with The Grand Tour. 

Now James is cooking up a storm on the streaming giant with his new series and accompanying book Oh Cook!.

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