Former Top Gear trio going ONLINE
For those of you who will miss seeing Jeremy Clarkson’s mug on Top Gear, you can stop moping because he’s not retiring from the spotlight. But he and his scruffy sidekicks, James May and Richard Hammond, will be moving from conventional telly into online streaming. All three have signed a deal with Amazon and will be hosting a ‘new’ car show on the e-commerce giant’s subscription service, Prime. The show will start its run on 2016 for three confirmed seasons.
The programme has yet to be named but Amazon has started using the hashtag #Drive2Prime to rev up interest and support. It is rumoured that Amazon will be investing at least £20million into the new show, which includes production costs and pay packets. There are no further details forthcoming from Amazon or any of the hosts, but the new programme will be overseen by the same longtime (now former) Top Gear producer, Andy Wilman. So, with the same team from Top Gear on board, the show could possibly be more of the same of the beloved British car show, which Clarkson had hosted since 2002 until the trio’s last episode which aired end-July.
In a statement released by Amazon, Clarkson said, “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship” which could be interpreted as a jab at the 92-year-old BBC, for which Clarkson has generated equal shares of profits and controversy. The public service broadcaster decided enough was enough when Clarkson punched a producer early this year, fired him, and replaced him with Chris Evans. Wilman told Broadcast magazine, “Everyone we have talked to has said to us ‘They (Amazon) leave you alone to make your show’. That’s a big one for us – we don’t like interference, we don’t need to be policed…” Again, another not-so-subtle jab at the BBC?
Online platforms may have been their only viable option because clauses in Clarkson’s, Hammond’s and May’s contracts have a non-compete clause that prevents them from working with rival British broadcaster, ITV, for two years.
While fans are ecstatic that they can still enjoy Clarkson’s acerbic wit and the on-camera chemistry between the three chaps, some have lashed out on social media because they would now have to pay £79 a year to subscribe to the Amazon service if they want to watch the new show. Prime has reportedly some 40 to 50 million subscribers worldwide, whereas the terrestrial Top Gear TV programme is believed to attract some 350 million viewers a week and has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most-watched factual TV programme.