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Top Gear trio signs with Amazon

From left: James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond

From left: James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond

Former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have signed a deal with Amazon to produce a new motoring show for its streaming service.

The former hosts of BBC’s long-running Top Gear show have been looking for a new home since Clarkson was axed by the corporation for assaulting one of the show’s producers.

The new, as yet untitled, show will debut early next year on Amazon Prime, with Top Gear’s former executive producer and close friend of Clarkson Andy Wilman also on board.

May, Hammond and Wilman all elected to leave Top Gear following the BBC’s decision not to renew Jeremy Clarkson’s contract.

Speculation about their next move has been rife, with Netflix said to be leading the chase for their services and rival broadcasters ITV and Sky also tipped to commission a series with the trio. But Amazon has beaten them all to the deal.

Amazon Prime Instant Video currently charges £79 a year for a subscription and has put up a “significant investment” to initially fund three seasons of the new show.

The service is currently only available in the UK, Germany and the US, with speculation recently about a potential launch in India. If this commission isn’t a precursor to a further international roll out of Prime then the series potentially provides a huge licensing opportunity for Amazon.

Wilman relaunched Top Gear with Clarkson in 2002 and the two school friends went on to turn the show into a global hit. It has become one of BBC2′s highest-rating programmes and a best-selling brand for commercial arm BBC Worldwide (BBCWW), estimated to pull in around £50m (US$75m) a year.

The BBC intends to continue the show without them, with DJ Chris Evans already confirmed as lead presenter and Formula 1 star Jenson Button this week tipped to join him.

Numerous versions have also been made and Sky Italia recently became the latest to remake the show.

Jay Marine, VP of Amazon Prime Video EU, said: “Customers told us they wanted to see the team back on screen, and we are excited to make that happen.

“Millions of Prime members are already enjoying our ground-breaking original shows. 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.”

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