And that’s just the presenters’ fees…
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has confirmed that hiring Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond to front their Top Gear-follow on series on the site’s streaming service was a “very, very, very expensive” move. “They’re worth a lot and they know it,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. Unconfirmed reports estimate the presenters’ salaries to be in the region of £6million each.
In a very savvy move, Amazon snapped up the troublemaking trio to present a new petrolhead series after the BBC did not renew Clarkson’s contract when he punched a Top Gear producer. Along with Hammond and May, he’s signed on for 36 episodes across three series, which fans will have to pay the £79 per year subscription fee to Amazon Prime if they want to witness the gang back in action.
Bezos thinks that viewers will be getting value for money, saying:
“We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love. And I think Clarkson’s new show is going to be one of those,” he continued.
“I think we’re in a golden age of television, so if you go back in time even just five years, you couldn’t get A-list talent to do TV serials, or, if you could, it was a rare thing. But that’s flipped completely. The investment is very high now in serialised TV, and the amount of time you have to tell a story is much greater.”
There will be no Stig (boo!) in the new show, because he’s still contracted to the BBC’s Top Gear – presented by Chris Evans – but the Amazon show will retain some of the classic TV elements that fans will be looking out for: indoor studio features, adventures around the world and of course, those infamous challenges. The whole show will be produced in the UK and Bezos assured the Telegraph that the presenting team will have “more time to yak about cars”.
Almost most importantly, however, just how many cars are they going to smash to pieces with a piano? Given that the rumoured budget for each show is £4.5million, making the three series’ total of £162million, the answer would appear to be: a lot.
We’re anticipating plenty of famous faces making cameos in the driver’s seat, plenty of outrageous escapades and even more outrageous comments from the unstoppable gang, but Clarkson, Hammond and May won’t be making their Amazon debut until Autumn 2016. That means we’ve got a whole year to wait to see what they’ve been up to with all that cash…