Well, it turns out Amazon weren’t joking when they said they were going to give Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and Andy Wilman the freedom to make their new motoring show exactly the way they want to – and I’m not just referring to restrictions or creative freedom here.
Amazon have put their money where their mouth is, and backed the boys with a budget of £160,000,000 for the new series – that’s right, one-hundred and sixty million British pounds sterling. In today’s money, that’s almost $250,000,000 US dollars. This will make their new show (whatever it will be named) one of the most expensive UK shows ever. To put it into perspective, it will have a bigger budget than the first two seasons of House of Cards, or the first Avengers movie.
Former Top Gear producer Andy Wilman, who has jumped ship with the trio, has said that it was the promise of a reported £160 million that ended up being the deciding factor in choosing Amazon, which initially seemed like an odd choice over to go for when compared to Netflix or ITV.
“It was very parochial the way this whole thing started,” Wilman said. “It’s not our forte doing deals. We’re all crap at business.”
As we previously mentioned, the team have committed to 36 episodes of a new car show, meaning they’ll have around £4.5 million pounds per episode at their disposal. The huge amount of money, together Amazon’s promise to give the presenters “creative freedom” means we can expect the new show to continue on from Top Gear on more of an “adventure” tangent, rather than a car review and consumer advice style program.
“We love the people down at ITV, but we couldn’t do it,” Wilman added of the broadcaster choice.
“Every one we have talked to has told us: ‘They [Amazon] leave you alone to make your show’. That’s a big one for us – we don’t like interference, we don’t need to be policed.”
Questions remain about availability
The announcement of Amazon signing the old Top Gear crew has also been me with some criticism, mainly when it comes to how the new show will launch and in which countries it will be available. Currently, Amazon Prime is only available to residents of Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada – and looks to be far too limited for program with an expectedly huge worldwide audience.
For now, questions remain about whether Amazon will make the service available to additional countries before the launch date and exactly how much we’ll be paying per episode. Without this expansion, Amazon runs a real risk of losing out on their investment, forcing the majority of fans around the world to turn to illegal downloads.
What will happen is anyone’s guess, but we’ll keep you up to date with any developments.