Customers who sign up for Amazon’s £79 a year Prime service already receive all kinds of perks, from free postage to a cloud based music library. From next year, Prime privileges will also include exclusive access to the automotive antics of Jeremy Clarkson and his fellow former Top Gear presenters, James May and Richard Hammond.
“I feel like I’ve climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship,” was Clarkson’s farewell to the BBC following the move. His sacking after a physical attack on one of the show’s producers put the parking brake on more than a decade of test drives, reviews, stunts, celebrity guests and banter. Co-hosts Hammond and May declined to continue the series without Clarkson at the helm, and the BBC subsequently announced DJ and car fanatic Chris Evans as the new host of a revamped Top Gear scheduled to appear on screen in 2016.
Amazon Prime Instant Video offers its subscribers unlimited, streaming films and TV programmes on demand, to watch on television or a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The new show will be one of a small number of programmes commissioned and produced exclusively for Amazon. It is believed that rival video on demand business Netflix, which has been expanding its portfolio of exclusive content, also bid for the services of the trio.
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A clause in their contracts prevented Clarkson, Hammond and May from immediately signing up for a motoring show with another British TV channel, a handy insurance policy for the BBC. However, American owned Amazon Prime, which is an online service, provided a loophole to ensure the team don’t have to hang up the trade plates just yet.
Andy Wilman, formerly the executive producer of Top Gear, will also be moving to Prime to produce the new show. He has suggested another reason for going with Amazon, which is known to offer greater artistic freedom for producers and presenters to create the type of show they want. The implication is that the BBC does interfere with the production of its programming, often acting on the response from licence payers.
So, what kind of programme do Clarkson and company, along with Wilman, want to give us? It won’t be a carbon copy of Top Gear, as certain elements of the format are owned by the BBC. However, it seems more than likely that the traditions of testing new and used cars to the limit, along with jokes, mild abuse and friendly rivalry among the team, will be preserved.
Whether you love or hate Clarkson and his cronies, they’re back in the motor trade.