Fans of the hit BBC driving show, “Top Gear,” have been overwhelmed by rumors and speculations since controversial actions by host Jeremy Clarkson caused him to be canned by BBC producers. Clarkson’s removal came after a notorious “fracas” at a Yorkshire hotel in March when Clarkson hit producer Oisin Tymon during an argument about arrangements for a hot meal.
This incident was the last straw for BBC officials. The altercation involving Tymon follows years of controversy at the BBC, with rows over a series of gaffes and insults, including most seriously Clarkson’s apparent use of the N-word when mumbling the “eeny meeny miny moe” nursery rhyme.
The unbearable wait for fans is now over, according to representatives from Amazon Prime’s online streaming service. “Top Gear” trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have signed to present a new car show on the streaming service.
Richard Hammond and James May, the other two presenters for the wildly popular program, decided to bow out and discontinue their involvement after Clarkson was removed. The three hosts will also be joined by former “Top Gear” producer and longtime friend of Clarkson, Andy Wilman.
Clarkson said regarding the new deal, “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.”
The move to Amazon Prime may come as a slight surprise to fans of the once BBC headlining show, which for many years was generating around £50 million a year for the corporation. Amazon Prime will be providing a whole new medium for the trio.
Traditionally, “Top Gear” was comprised of video sessions of tests and other car-related events, as well as sections shot in a film studio that included news and celebrity appearances. The format, and even the name of the new show are as of yet unknown, though the topic will remain motor-sports.
Amazon Prime Video EU vice-president Jay Marine said, “Customers told us they wanted to see the team back on screen, and we are excited to make that happen. We can’t wait to see what Jeremy, Richard, James and the team will create in what is sure to be one of the most globally anticipated shows of 2016.”
Though there aren’t any large changes announced for the show, one thing is for sure. “The Stig,” the previous show’s mysterious, helmeted driver, will not be moving over to the new program.
The biggest reason for choosing Amazon Prime, according to the team, was freedom.
“They’ll give us the freedom to make the programs we want — and you know how we love that freedom — there’s a budget to produce programs of the quality we want, and this is the future. So it’s exhilarating to be part of that future,” said Wilman.
Issues regarding production freedom for the show have included commercial pressure on the trio to play nice when critiquing new vehicles manufactured by the shows advertisers and producer involvement in filming the show.
Amazon Prime seems to be placing itself in prime position to become key competition for other online streaming services, including Hulu and Netflix. As the age of Internet television continues to grow, look to see more and more shows converting to an Internet format.
Production for the new, as of yet unnamed driving show will commence after the hosts get back from summer holidays. Amazon plans to have the program running by mid-point next year.