Top Gear fan backlash
British Top Gear viewers are expressing their anger at how they will have to pay £79 (NZ$186) a year to watch Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s new show on Amazon’s streaming service.
The ex-BBC hosts announced a deal with the online giant today to present three seasons of the as-yet untitled programme, with work on the first series expected to begin soon.
Amazon is said to be investing at least £20million in the hotly-anticipated show, including pay packets and production costs.
The programme will be available to Amazon Prime customers worldwide, but Top Gear fans took to Twitter to voice their fury at how the show will no longer be on terrestrial television.
One of the many unimpressed fans of the show was Becky Twynham, who tweeted: 'So you now have to pay to watch Jeremy Clarkson and crew. Nah, I'll stick to reruns of Top Gear, thanks.'
And maths student Alan Brook added: 'Can we keep signing up for new 30-day free trials of Amazon Prime whenever the new Top Gear is on? Don't really want to pay £79.'
Meanwhile Adam Minford, from Antrim in Northern Ireland, tweeted: 'I love Top Gear but not enough to pay Amazon £80 for it. I'm sure I'll find another way.'
James May and Richard Hammond recording their final episode of Top Gear.
But Jack Lazarski then compared the situation to watching on BBC Two: 'Basically have to pay £79 for Amazon Prime just to watch the new Top Gear. Still cheaper than a TV licence I suppose.'
Hammond, Clarkson and May will be working with ex-Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman.
Clarkson - whose contract was not renewed by the BBC earlier this year after the infamous ‘fracas’ with producer Oisin Tymon - said: ‘I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship.’
The announcement ends months of speculation about the trio's future after they left the BBC amid much controversy following the incident at a hotel in North Yorkshire in March.
Mr Wilman said today how the former Top Gear team were delighted to be ‘left alone’ to take the best of their old show after receiving the ‘strongest and most intelligent offer’ from Amazon.
He told Broadcast magazine: ‘Everyone we have talked to has said to us: “They 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…
‘You can’t reinvent the sideways, Last of the Summer Wine-type relationship they have because that is outside of television, that is theirs. But there will be a new look, new elements, new home.’
He added that he was starting to put together a crew for the show and wants a ‘s*** hot’ production manager, joking that the team used to ‘run f***ing riot with money” while at the BBC.
In a press release, May joked: ‘We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn't it?’ And Hammond added: ‘Amazon? Oh yes. I have already been there. I got bitten by a bullet ant.’
Sources told MailOnline in March that ITV may have been preparing a £10million 'golden handcuffs' bid to lure Clarkson away from the BBC for at least one series of a new motoring show
ut it later emerged that Clarkson, 55, Hammond, 45, and May, 52, had been blocked from working for a rival British broadcaster for two years by a clause in their BBC contracts.
However, despite the BBC's 'non-compete' clause, the hosts reportedly believed any new show could be shown online or, if an overseas production company was used, UK terrestrial channels.
Clarkson, whose net worth is reportedly £30million, earned £14million after the BBC purchased the commercial rights to Top Gear three years ago.
Top Gear is the BBC’s biggest global brand and is believed to be worth around £50million to the corporation’s commercial arm thanks to sales of the programme, DVDs, books and live shows.
The Daily Mail reported last month how the BBC had offered May and Hammond a 4.6million pound deal for up to three years to continue hosting Top Gear for another two or three series.
New Top Gear presenter Chris Evans.
It was thought they would have earned between £760,000 and £1.15million per year in the deal, which would have been an increase on the £500,000 per series they were previously paid.
Clarkson earned nearly £1.5million a year as a Top Gear presenter. The new host was eventually announced five weeks ago as Chris Evans, whose three-year contract is said to be worth £3million.
While the official title is still unconfirmed, Amazon Prime used the hashtag #Drive2Prime in its announcement on social media today - leading to speculation that this could be the name.
Responses to this were unenthusiastic, with 'Super Chris' tweeting: ‘#Drive2Prime ... not the best name but if it's the same format as Top gear you can call it whatever you want. #HappyChris.’