James Daniel May (born 16 January 1963) is a British television presenter and award-winning journalist, who was one of the presenters on Top Gear. May fronted the show from 2003 to 2015 alongside co-stars Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. He also writes a weekly column for The Daily Telegraph's motoring section. On Top Gear, his nickname is "Captain Slow", due to his 'careful', relaxed driving style. He also earned the nickname "Captain Sense of Direction", due to the fact that he always gets lost, always gets distracted by an irrelevant subject and always arrives late. He is, however, a very smart man (who likes to lecture) who has carried out some exceptionally high-speed driving. He became one of the very few in the world to have taken a Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253.45 mph (407.90 km/h), precisely one-third of the speed of sound at sea level, and hit 259 mph in a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
May and Jeremy Clarkson - together with an Icelandic support crew - were the first ever people to reach the Magnetic North Pole in an automobile (a modified Toyota Hilux). The expedition was broadcast in a "Top Gear" special on BBC Two on 25 July 2007. Clarkson described May as being "the first person to go to the North Pole who didn't want to be there."
BackstoryEditBorn in Bristol on 16th January 1963, May is one of four children; he has two sisters and a brother. May attended Caerleon Endowed Junior School in Newport. He spent his teenage years in South Yorkshire where he attended Oakwood Comprehensive School in Rotherham and was a choirboy at Whiston Parish Church. During the early-1980s, May worked as a sub-editor for The Engineer and later Autocar magazine, from which he was sacked. May was fired in 1992 from Autocar magazine after putting together a hidden message in one issue. At the end of the year, the magazine's "Road Test Year Book" supplement was published. Each spread featured four reviews and each review started with a large, red letter. May's role was to put the entire supplement together, which "was extremely boring and took several months". He described it as: 'a real pain in the arse.'
He has since written for several publications, including a regular column called ‘England Made Me’ in Car Magazine and articles for Top Gear magazine, as well as a weekly column in The Daily Telegraph.May has written a book titled ‘May On Motors’, which is a collection of his published articles, and co-authored ‘Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure’, based on the TV series of the same name.
He has also written the afterword to Long Lane with Turnings, published in September 2006, the final book by motoring writer L. J. K. Setright. In the same month he co-presented a tribute to Raymond Baxter. His book, ‘Notes From The Hard Shoulder’, was published on 26 April 2007. ‘James May's 20th Century’, a book to accompany the television series of the same name, was published on 6 September 2007.
In August 2006, it was revealed that May has contributed to the online motoring humour magazine Sniff Petrol.
Television Appearances and CareerEdit
His past television credits include presenting ‘Driven’ on Channel 4 in 1998-1999, narrating an eight part BBC One series called ‘Road Rage School’, and co-hosting the ITV1 coverage of the 2006 London Boat Show.
He also wrote and presented a Christmas special called ‘James May's Top Toys’ for BBC One, where May explored the toys of his childhood. This list was followed up the next year by a sequel of sorts, broadcast on BBC Two, entitled ‘James May: My Sister's Top Toys’, this time attempting to investigate the gender divide of toy appeal. In late 2006, the BBC broadcast ‘Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure’, a series in which May, a committed bitter drinker, traveled around France with wine expert Oz Clarke. A second series was transmitted in late 2007, this time with May and Clark in the Californian wine country, and was followed by a third series in 2009 called ‘Oz and James Drink to Britain’.
He has also presented a documentary for Sky about sharks called ‘Inside Killer Sharks’, and a series looking at inventions and discoveries during the twentieth century, entitled ‘James May's 20th Century’.
In late 2008, the BBC broadcast ‘James May's Big Ideas’, a three-part series in which May traveled around the globe in search of implementations for concepts widely considered science fiction.
In June 2009 May presented a documentary on BBC Two called ‘James May on the Moon’, commemorating 40 years since man first landed on the moon. This was followed by another documentary on BBC Four called ‘James May at the Edge of Space’, where May was flown to the edge of space (70,000 ft) in a Lockheed U-2 spy plane. Highlights of the footage from the training for the flight, and the flight itself was used in ‘James May on The Moon’, but was shown fully in this program. This made him the highest flying person, along with the pilot, at that time, after the crew of the International Space Station.
In 2010 May was the host of a show named “James May’s Toy Stories”. In his new show he goes to small towns across Britain and tries to break toy related world records. In the first episodes for example he made a house out of 3 million lego bricks.
He first co-presented Top Gear in 1999, before it was axed by the BBC owing to poor viewing figures. He rejoined the show in 2003 for the second series of the present Top Gear format, where he earned the nickname "Captain Slow" owing to his "careful" driving style. Despite this nickname, he has done some especially high-speed driving, including on Top Gear Series 9 taking a Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253 mph (407 km/h) which is nearly one-third of the speed of sound at sea level. He also flew in a Eurofighter Typhoon at a speed of around 1320 mph for his television program, ‘James May's 20th Century’. He also became one of the first people - with co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson and an Icelandic support crew - to travel to the magnetic North Pole in a car (a modified Toyota Hilux) even though he was only in the pole because “the producer said he had to be”, leading to Clarkson saying “You will be the first person at the North Pole who didn't want to be there”, and also one of the first people to drive across the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana. In Series 16 of Top Gear, May accidentally fell and hit the back of his head on a rock whilst in a desert in Syria. Several minutes later, May was taken to hospital due to a bad concussion, leaving Hammond and Clarkson continuing their challenge alone, although at one point they received news that May was recovering well.
In 2015, May declined to renew his Top Gear contract with the BBC, quitting the show he had worked on since 2003 following lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson's dismissal. Fellow presenter Richard Hammond also quit the show.
James May is 6ft (1.82m) tall. He likes to grow his hair out, which the other presenters always dislike. He is middle aged, and his height is between Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. He likes comfort, and does reviews for normal cars. He mostly uses "Oh, Cock!", and "Clarkson!" in relation to Jeremy Clarkson, which are his catchphrases.
May is refined, wise, protective, with very very polite attitude (When meeting new people he often starts with 'hello'). Initially, James is considered to be the most mature and sensible presenter as he is not as out-going and imaginative as Jeremy or Richard. However, just like his colleagues, he shows confidence and toughness during any task or situation on the show. His favourite colour is said to be a greyish shade of brown. His least favourite place in the world is the Nürburgring. He never builds anything before naming all his tools and arranges them in a descending order of size.