I think anyone who worked on Top Gear was always asked three questions, and they were usually – ‘What’s Jeremy like?’, ‘What’s Richard like?’ and ‘What’s James like?’ And there might be a fourth supplemental question which was ‘Who is the Stig?’
Now we were all rigorously trained to deal with that last one, and the standard way of dealing with it was to release a smoke grenade and then use the ensuing confusion to torch the room. But as far as the other three questions go I always used to answer them in pretty much the same way, which was to say ‘You know what they’re like on TV? Well that’s what they’re like in real life’. And it was true. I think people thought that perhaps they were some kind of TV invention but they really weren’t.
Jeremy really was boisterous and noisy and he didn’t think that most things couldn’t be fixed by hitting them with a hammer. And Richard really was excitable and lively and really, really would just get massively distracted by a simple picture of an American muscle car. And James really was the nice, bimbling one who you’d go for a pint of brown beer with and who would genuinely get lost in our own office. So all of that stuff that you saw on telly was pretty much what they were like in real life.
And if you would think that that would make them incredibly good fun to work with then you’d be absolutely right because it was. That’s partly why I wanted to write this book, because I wanted to capture some of the fun thing that we did and were said and make it a matter of record that when someone had the idiotic idea for the show to get a dog, that person was James May.