The TV presenter on filming his new Amazon motoring show, putting things back together for BBC4 and doughnuts
It feels appropriate that James Mays new BBC4 show should be about putting things back together after they have been taken apart. The BBC is doing something similar with Top Gear after Jeremy Clarksons axing last year, while May, Clarkson and co-presenter Richard Hammond will front a new motoring demonstrate on Amazon Prime.
Mays BBC4 demonstrate, The Reassembler, in which he puts back together a lawn mower, an electric guitar and a telephone, is likely to be his last hurrah for the BBC given the scale of his is committed to Amazon.
The Amazon thing is going to be very complicated and it takes up a huge amount of time, tells May. The trio and executive producer Andy Wilman signed a three-year deal with the on-demand broadcaster last year worth a reputed 160 m, with Clarkson on 10 m a series, Hammond and May on 7m each. May tells the numbers are all bollocks. The figures arent right and anyway they dont devote us a great big container of fund and say, heres your fund go over and expend it. They give it to us bits at a time.
It is massively expensive what we are doing, for reasons that I hope will become apparent when you see it. We are doing it over three years and there are going to be 30 -plus long episodes. So no, we havent all been out and bought a yacht. Ive got a new pair of trainers, thats the only difference in my life since I started working for Amazon.
That and the tan, thanks to May and his fellow presenters filming in the Caribbean and north Africa for the as yet untitled Amazon show. May confirms it will begin in the autumn, with each running likely to be 11 episodes, maybe more. It will be scheduled albeit not in the traditional sense so wont be immediately available to binge-watch.
It will also leave the TV studio behind, disappointing followers of the cool wall but an exciting prospect for fans of Top Gears sumptuously filmed locating shoots.
May says they are inducing more episodes than they did in the latter days of Top Gear and it is logistically more complicated … We are making a series of TV cinemas and we dont have a base.
Top Gear used to take over pretty much all our time and that is true now, worse actually, he adds. And by the end of the three years Ill be dead anyway.
May first discussed the idea for The Reassembler several years ago and had all but agreed to do it before signing up with Amazon, along with another series of BBC2s Cars of the People. I couldnt say, oh Im not going to do it now because Ive gone off to attain myself rich with Amazon. That would have been appalling, he tells. I like putting things together and I find it very difficult to believe that other people wouldnt be utterly fascinated. A more rational part of me accepts that a lot of people are going to think its utterly dreary.