Top Gear could have stayed on air without Jeremy Clarkson – but his co-hosts reportedly refused to present the show without him.
James May and Richard Hammond were offered the chance to front the motoring show during Clarkson’s suspension, according to a BBC executive.
Discussions were held about broadcasting the last three episodes with mainly recorded segments while the two co-stars filmed the studio parts.
However the BBC insider told the Mirror that May and Hammond rejected the offer and refused to go on air without their long-time colleague.
The source said: “They didn’t want to do it without Jeremy so the talks didn’t get off the ground.
“There is a feeling that it is all of them or none of them.”
Clarkson expects to learn his fate this week. He and Oisin Tymon, the Top Gear producer he is accused of punching in a row over catering, have given their evidence to the official BBC inquiry led by Ken McQuarrie, head of BBC Scotland. Both are thought to have had lawyers present.
It is now up to Lord Hall, the director-general, to assess both sides and decide if Clarkson should be sacked.
Another BBC executive told the Sun: “The whole thing has been a nightmare, we just want it over.
“Our priority has to be the person who has allegedly been attacked but we are between a rock and a hard place.”
The remaining episodes of Top Gear are on hold, with the BBC moving a travel documentary with Simon Reeves into its Sunday slot this week. That decision has already cost BBC Two four million listeners.
Richard Hammond posted a cyptic tweet on Wednesday in which he said his job was “in the holding pattern”.
A BBC spokesman said: “We have an investigation ongoing and we won’t comment further until that is concluded.”