Jeremy Clarkson, Former ‘Top Gear’ Host, Announces Deal With Amazon

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon wins race to sign Top Gear stars.

LONDON – The former hosts of the BBC’s popular “Top Gear” program, who left amid scandal over an off-set dustup, have signed up to present a new car show for broadcaster Amazon Prime.British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson, dropped from hit BBC motoring show for punching a producer, will make a new series about cars for Amazon Prime, the streaming service announced Thursday. Amazon said Thursday that Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have committed to three series of the show, with the first to be broadcast in 2016.

Despite being shocked at the broadcaster’s decision not to renew his contract, Clarkson had said he was confident he would do another car show eventually. Rumours have mainly centred on Jodie Kidd, Phillip Glenister and Guy Martin, but new revelations have pointed towards someone almost entirely unexpected: Formula One driver Jenson Button. Amazon said the new show, to be overseen by the trio’s long time executive producer Andy Wilman, will be available on its subscription streaming service Amazon Prime next year and run for three seasons. An estimated 350 million viewers around the world tuned in to Top Gear each week to watch the three men review cars and try them out in madcap stunts, making it the world’s most popular factual television programme. Netflix and ITV, the U.K.’s biggest commercial TV network, were thought to be the frontrunners to sign them after they left the BBC earlier in the year.

Much of the appeal for fans was Clarkson’s straight-talking, “man of the people” approach, but critics condemned him as a boorish bigot and he was an increasingly controversial figure even before the altercation with a producer in March. Clarkson, who had generated both controversy and profits for Britain’s publicly-funded broadcaster, had been on a final warning over accusations last year that he had used racist language while filming the show. Top Gear has long been one of Britain’s most popular TV exports but was rocked by a succession of controversies that led to the relationship between the cast and the BBC breaking down. Clarkson reported himself to BBC management after admitting to shouting at and hitting Oisin Tymon, giving him a bleeding lip for which the producer sought hospital treatment. “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said on the announcement that the trio would be filming three seasons of a new show for Amazon.

In an interview with BBC’s Top Gear magazine, he said: “This is, without doubt, the most challenging thing I have ever done in my career,” comparing his move to when he took over the Radio 2 show from Terry Wogan. “People kept saying [after Wogan] I had ‘big shoes to fill’, and they’re saying it again now. A Top Gear television crew was forced to flee Argentina after driving a Porsche 928 GT with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict. Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and Prime, an internet streaming service similar to Netflix, offers subscribers access to thousands of films and television shows, including original content. I don’t mean they’re wrong or they’re right, it’s just such a predictable thing to say – and, by the way, Jeremy is very tall, so they’re even bigger shoes.” Amazon’s new car series will add to a growing catalogue of original, exclusive shows that it has commissioned to attract more subscribers to its streaming service.

So far the most successful has been Transparent, a black comedy about a Los Angeles family whose father is transgender, which won a Golden Globe award last year.

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