Clarkson and co blocked until 2017
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Former Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have been blocked from signing for ITV to front a new motoring show by a clause in their previous BBC contract.
The stars cannot appear on a rival terrestrial British TV channel for two years despite the acrimonious nature of their departure from Top Gear.
It is understood, the clause would not prevent them from risking signing with an internet-based service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, which both commission original TV shows.
ITV are understood to be very keen to sign up the former Top Gear stars because they are viewed as pure ratings gold, and they have an unrivalled international following, which was worth an estimated £40 million a year to the BBC.
The BBC have announced that Chris Evans will front the next series of Top Gear, which will undergo a major revamp, in an effort to continue the lucrative foreign revenue stream for the corporation.
TV source told the Daily Mirror: 'Basically they could make a show for ITV, but not one about cars. A clause stops them leaving and making a rival.
'It means Netflix or Amazon are favourites to sign up the team. There is a feeling that if they wait two years it gives Chris Evans a chance to steal a march on them and get his new Top Gear show up and running, which means he would be settled in by then.
'It's a difficult decision but they hope to make up their minds soon after a number of meetings. ITV have made them a great offer.'
The trio met with senior ITV official Peter Fincham in London along with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman to discuss the contract issue.
The BBC ditched Clarkson following an incident in March involving a Top Gear producer.
However, the BBC could be left extremely embarrassed by their decision to ditch Clarkson.
The last episode, which featured two previously un-broadcast films was watched by 5.8 million people, with many more tuning in later on BBC iPlayer.
The last episode is scheduled to screen in New Zealand on July 16.