Top Gear stars drive $380m TV deal : Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond

July 31, 2015 11:00 pm

 

Presenters Richard Hammond (left), Jeremy Clarkson and James May are back in business with Amazon. Photo / Supplied

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have signed a reported
160 million ($379.3 million) deal with Amazon to launch a rival to Top
Gear, saying they looked forward to working without being “policed” by
the BBC.
The presenters are leaving behind terrestrial television
for a motoring show that will be available online to Amazon’s Prime
Video subscribers.
The signing is a coup for Amazon, the online
retailer now encroaching on the territory of traditional broadcasters,
and is more than double the amount rival Netflix paid for its
highest-profile show, House of Cards.
According to the Financial
Times, the deal is worth 160 million for 36 episodes over three years in
what Amazon has hailed as a “landmark global TV deal”.
Clarkson,
Hammond and May – along with former Top Gear executive producer Andy
Wilman – will make the show and take a cut of profits from merchandising
and tours through their new production company, W Chump & Sons (the
title incorporates the initials of their surnames).

ITV had wanted to secure the trio, but was scuppered by a
clause in their BBC contracts that stopped them moving to a terrestrial
broadcaster.
Amazon Prime subscribers in Britain, the United
States and Germany will be able to watch the show as part of their 79
annual fee and plans are afoot to sell it to other countries.
Explaining
the attractions of Amazon, Wilman told Broadcast: “Everyone we have
talked to has said to us, ‘They 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.”
The lack of interference particularly appealed to
Clarkson, who was regularly reprimanded for his near-the-knuckle jokes
on Top Gear.
The format will be familiar to Top Gear viewers,
with a mix of studio-based chat and international adventures. Wilman
said the three presenters would have “more time to yak” and their
friendship would remain the show’s central element. “You can’t reinvent
the sideways, Last of the Summer Wine-type relationship they have. But
there will be a new look,” he said.
Some Amazon series are made
available all in one so subscribers can “binge-watch” an entire series.
But Wilman said the new show was likely to stick to the once-a-week
schedule.
Clarkson, Hammond and May poked fun at their move away
from terrestrial television. “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane
and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said, while May added: “We have become
part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn’t it?”

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