New Top Gear to have female co-star

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But with James May and Richard Hammond also jamming the brakes on their Top Gear careers, who will help Evans keep the show on the road? Let's run an eye over the favourites (and one outsider).

JODIE KIDD

What they call a dead cert: Kidd will be confirmed as the new May - the six-foot-something former supermodel being too lofty to be the new Hammond. But does she want it? Doing the rounds of reality TV contests (Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity MasterChef, The Jump) suggests a woman in search of a future in television, and assuming that the BBC is eager to rid Top Gear of its blokey image - and Evans has said he can "100 per cent" confirm he will have a female co-star - then Kidd would be ideal: she’s a race-winning factory Maserati endurance driver and posted one of the fastest laps in Top Gear’s “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”.

GUY MARTIN

In retrospect, Channel 4's Speed with Guy Martin looks like an extended audition reel for the Top Gear job, as the former motorcycle racing champion attempted to beat the world speed record for a hovercraft (as well as for a motorcycle on water!), while, like Hammond, Martin is a survivor of high-speed crashes. A television natural, Martin's bushy sideburns will appeal to Top Gear fans who still groom like it’s 1974.

DERMOT O’LEARY

Being a “safe pair of hands”, as Dermot has proved on The X Factor, is one thing - but unless the BBC secretly wants to kill off its troublesome cash cow, then that's the very last thing Top Gear needs. After all, recklessness, along with (lest we forget) some excellent, attention-grabbing motor journalism, is what has amassed fans in more than 200 countries worldwide. And will O'Leary really want to crease those impeccable suits?

PHILIP GLENISTER

The BBC drama Life on Mars, in which a policeman finds himself trapped in 1973, proved that Philip Glenister would be game to imitate James May's old-rocker denim look. But what has grabbed petrolheads’ attention is Glenister's more recent role as presenter of Channel 4's For the Love of Cars, in which classic vehicles are found and restored. Still, it seems unlikely that he'll be turning down acting gigs because he's too busy racing Ford Cortinas across the Gobi desert.

STEVE COOGAN

Chris Evans would drown if he tried to trade banter with Coogan, a far sharper and funnier man who is also a petrolhead.

ROWAN ATKINSON

Wealthy car lover, collector and sometime racer, Atkinson has appeared as a “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”, driving a Kia. His other car is a McLaren F1, which produced Britain’s biggest-ever motor insurance claim when he famously crashed it; it is now for sale.

DAVID BECKHAM?

Avid motorcyclist Beckham would instantly rid Top Gear of its fashion-dinosaur image - but would he be too busy self-grooming in the rear-view mirror to actually put his foot on the pedal? And let's face it, Becks is always more impressive when he doesn't open his mouth. The new Stig, perhaps?

The Independent

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Original source: New Top Gear to have female co-star

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