LONDON - Long-running Top Gear, one of the biggest BBC TV hits and a successful international format, will not return to the air here full-time until 2013, a BBC spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
The show's 18th season wrapped in March, and a new season was expected to return to the public broadcaster this fall. U.K. media reports said the BBC wanted to keep the show about motor vehicles away from competition from Simon Cowell's X Factor on ITV.
"There will be a new series of Top Gear early 2013," a BBC spokeswoman told The Hollywood Reporter. "In the meanwhile, Top Gear production and presenters are making other shows individually," including one scheduled for some time later this year that will take a look at 50 years of James Bond cars and a holiday special. She wouldn't comment further.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson said via Twitter: "Would love to be back in the autumn, but Sunday nights then will be full of fat people singing." Clarkson got into hot water last year when he attacked striking public service workers and train suicides in a series of interviews that provoked more than 30,000 TV viewer complaints.
Top Gear has been BBC Two's most-watched program.
In the U.S., History Channel has shown a successful U.S. version with hosts Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood.