After months of speculation of where Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond would end up, the ex-Top Gear presenters are heading to Amazon Prime.
Amazon released details of the new show on its website. “Guess who’s back?” the description reads, before explaining the show will be produced by Top Gear’s long time executive producer Andy Wilman.
The unnamed show will go ‘into production shortly’ as an Amazon Prime exclusive for 2016, though no specific date is given. We do, however, know it is part of a three-season deal.
Clarkson also announced the news on Twitter: “I’m very excited to announce that Hammond, May and I have signed a deal with @AmazonVideo.”
He added: “@AmazonVideo now saying I can’t be their chief drone pilot. Apparently they want us to make a car show.”
It is unclear whether it will be available to Amazon Prime Instant Video customers who pay a cheaper subscription than Prime customers.
Clarkson – who had grown tired of the BBC’s meddling while making the original Top Gear – said of the news: “I feel like I have climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship.”
Hammond said: “Amazon? Oh yes. I have already been there. I got bitten by a bullet ant. May added: “We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn’t it?”
The news will no doubt rain on the parade of the BBC’s reinvention of the show, which will be headed-up by feature BBC Radio 2 presenter and car enthusiast Chris Evans and at least one other presenter, who is yet to be revealed.
Amazon is yet to release any viewing figures for Amazon Prime, but said 10 million people tried out its £79 subscription (£6.58 a month) service over the Christmas period. In late 2013 Amazon said it had ‘tens of millions’ of subscribers but what percentage uses its on-demand video service is unknown.
Top Gear came to an abrupt end after news of a ‘fracas’ between Clarkson and producer Oisin Tymon. The BBC never renewed Clarkson’s contract despite an independent petition to have him reinstated reached one million signatures.
Amazon Prime is available online as well as an app called Amazon Video. More than 15,000 movies and television episodes are available free, with extra content watchable for a fee.
The news may come as a surprise to some (including us) who assumed a move to Netflix was more certain given its much wider viewing audience and creative freedom. As popular as the show and presenters are, will viewers front up cash to watch it? We’re unconvinced.
BBC vs Amazon. Old Top Gear vs new Top Gear. It’s going to be an interesting fight and a good time for petrolheads who miss their Sunday night motoring fix.