James May has revealed that the trio’s new motoring show on Amazon Prime will ditch the TV studio in favour of “massively expensive” feature segments that will be filmed entirely on the road. This means you can expect all of their future episodes to be more like previous Top Gear specials, rather than one of their studio based episodes. May also said that the first series would run for at least 11 episodes, which is longer than most recent Top Gear series.
“We are not a studio-centred thing any more. We are making a series of TV films and we don’t have a base,” said May. “It is massively expensive what we are doing, for reasons that I hope will become apparent when you see it. We are doing more episodes than we did in the latter days of Top Gear. It is quite intense.”
Clarkson, Hammond and May’s new Amazon motoring show will debut several months after the BBC’s Top Gear relaunch in May, but May said they’re not in a race with the BBC2 show. “It will be ready when it’s ready,” he said. “For once we are not in a race.”
May has also said that the figures attached to the Amazon deal – Clarkson was said to be earning £10m a series, Hammond and May £7m each – were “all bollocks”. “The figures aren’t right and anyway they don’t give us a great big bag of money and say, ‘Here’s your money go off and spend it’. They give it to us bits at a time,” he said. “We are doing it over three years and there are going to be 30-plus long episodes. So no, we haven’t all been out and bought a yacht. I’ve got a new pair of trainers, that’s the only difference in my life since I started working for Amazon.”
May weighs in on Cenotaph stunt
James May has also questioned the wisdom of the stunt for the new series of Top Gear, which saw host Matt LeBlanc and rally driver Ken Block perform rolling burnouts near the Cenotaph war memorial in London. May said the episode was “probably a little bit ill-judged”.
“I have driven up and down that road, yes, but no, I don’t do doughnuts – it’s inappropriate wherever you do it in my view” said May in an interview with MediaGuardian to be published on Monday.