James May hopes for war poetry show

Preston and Leyland Citizen: Top Gear host James May hopes to convince BBC bosses to make a programme about First World War poets Top Gear host James May hopes to convince BBC bosses to make a programme about First World War poets

Top Gear host James May is hoping to turn to poetry for his next TV project after his programmes about cars, toys and booze.

The presenter says he aims to convince BBC bosses to make a programme about First World War poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke.

May hopes to make the programme to coincide with this year's centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

The 51-year-old said he had proposed the programme to commissioning bosses at the corporation, which is preparing dozens of hours of shows to commemorate the anniversary with many more planned over the next four years.

In an interview for forces radio BFBS - recorded while visiting troops at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan for tonight's Top Gear - he said: " I've put it forward - I haven't heard from them yet, weirdly obviously this year is the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.

"But I thought for the first year we could commemorate the Christmas truce of 1914 when they all got out of the trenches and played football and swapped gifts and so on - and we could do that through the words of the war poets and the people who kept diaries and postcards and things."

"The words of the really big poets like Sassoon, (Edmund) Blunden and Owen have endured, while a lot of the other things about it, the understanding of it, is fading away - and those words may be the bit that survive the longest, and actually tell us a great deal about it in a very short space of time and very few words. Which is what poetry is about, it's about imagery and stuff."

May has hosted a number of his Toy Stories challenges and been on drink-inspired journeys with Oz Clarke for TV alongside his Top Gear commitments.

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