James May is a British television presenter and award-winning journalist and writer.
He is best known as co-presenter of the motoring programme 'Top Gear' alongside Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. He also writes a weekly column for The Daily Telegraph`s motoring section.
During the early 1980s, he worked as a writer for The Engineer and later Autocar magazine, from which he was dismissed. Other publications he has written for include a regular column called England Made Me in Car Magazine and articles for Top Gear magazine.
He 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.
On Top Gear, his nickname is "Captain Slow", owing to his `careful` driving style. He has, however, carried out some exceptionally high-speed driving (including taking a Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253 mph during an episode of Top Gear.
On screen he has taken on some memorable challenges including flying in a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon at a speed of around 1320 mph for his television programme, 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 by car to the magnetic North Pole, using a modified Toyota Hilux. He claimed in the show that he didn't really want to and was only doing it because the producers insisted, therefore making him the first person to go to the North Pole who didn't want to be there. He was also one of the first people to drive across the Makgadikgadi salt plains in Botswana. He has also driven a 1.3 litre Suzuki SJ413 through the Bolivian jungle and along Death Road and over the Andes to the Pacific Ocean in Chile. He also drove a modified Toyota Hilux up the side of the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.
In contrast to Top Gear he co-presented ‘Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure’, a series in which, as a committed bitter drinker, he travelled around France with wine expert Oz Clarke. A second series followed in 2007, this time with May and Clarke in California and in there was a third series in 2009 ‘Oz and James Drink to Britain’.
His interest in science has led to him presenting 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 2008, the BBC broadcast ‘James May's Big Ideas’and in 2009 he presented a BBC 2 documentary ‘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 U.S. Air Force Lockheed U-2 spy plane.
In 2009, James presented a 6-part TV series showing favourite toys of the past era and whether they can be applied in the modern day. The toys featured were Airfix, Plasticine, Meccano, Scalextric, Lego and Hornby. Most memorable highspots of the series were the building of a full size house out of Lego at Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey.and the recreation of the banked track at Brooklands using Scalextric track.