Former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have officially signed a deal to bring their new car show to Amazon Prime. It is scheduled to stream online sometime in fall 2016.
Jonathan Prynn of London Evening Standard described the Amazon Prime deal with Clarkson, Hammond and May as "one of the biggest coups in TV history." The show will be produced by former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, Clarkson's old childhood friend.
"I feel like I've climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship," Clarkson said.
"Amazon? Oh yes. I have already been there. I got bitten by a bullet ant," Hammond said.
"We have become part of the new age of smart TV. Ironic, isn't it?" May said.
The controversial motoring journalist and presenter went on Twitter to announce the news.
"I'm very excited to announce that Hammond, May and I have signed a deal with [Amazon Instant Video]," Clarkson wrote.
Hammond and May also expressed their thoughts on the Amazon deal through Twitter.
"Good news! I've got a job with [Amazon Instant Video]," May wrote. "Bad news! So have the other two."
"I've got a job I've got a job I've got a job," Hammond wrote. "Haircut, clean jeans and practice driving again. [Forward]!!"
Prynn reported that the deal with Amazon has ended months of speculation about the future of Clarkson, who has worked at the British Broadcasting Corp. for 27 years.
"BBC director general Tony Hall refused to renew the 55-year-old's contract after a notorious 'fracas' at a Yorkshire hotel in March when Top Gear's frontman hit producer Oisin Tymon during a row about catering arrangements," Prynn wrote.
According to Prynn, details of the trio's deal have not been released yet. However, one Amazon insider said that the company "made a significant investment" on them.
"The global deal commits the former Top Gear presenters to three seasons of the as yet unnamed show," Prynn wrote. "Work on the first season is expected to start in the autumn."
Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Prime Video EU, told Prynn that Amazon's customers "wanted to see the team back on screen."
"Millions of Prime members are already enjoying our ground-breaking original shows," Marine said. "We can't wait to see what Jeremy, Richard, James and the team will create in what is sure to be one of the most globally anticipated shows of 2016."
Wilman talked to Terry Payne of Radio Times on what viewers could expect from the new Amazon Prime car show. He elaborated on the ambitious shooting schedule.
"We want to be on air next autumn, so we'll come back from our break and get cracking on it," Wilman said. "Hopefully filming will start in the New Year."
The former Top Gear executive producer confirmed to Radio Times that he and Clarkson were bound by a clause in their old BBC contracts that prohibited them from working with another British TV network until 2017.
"So the ITV thing was never really going to happen, but there has been lots of interest," Wilman said. "We've been in talks for quite a few weeks now with different people, but in the end it all happened very quickly."
Wilman pointed out three reasons why they decided to go with Amazon Prime.
"They'll give us the freedom to make the programs we want - and you know how we love that freedom - there's a budget to produce programs of the quality we want and this is the future," Wilman said. "So it's exhilarating to be part of that future."
Payne asked Wilman how the new car show would perform in the TV schedule against a "Top Gear" hosted by Chris Evans and if he was trying to prove a point.
"The child in me probably would, but actually all the scheduling competition stuff is becoming irrelevant," Wilman said. "People will watch programs when they want to and not when they're told to. This is very much the future of how we'll watch TV."
Payne then asked Wilman on what the show's format will be and whether it will have "shades of the old Top Gear."
"It's a motoring show and there will be themes people will be familiar with," Wilman said. "But I can't tell you how good it feels to get the chance to produce something from scratch."
Wilman added that "it feels really liberating" to finally call the shots on their own car show.
"We're all really excited," Wilman said. "No one telling us what we can and can't do, just us hopefully producing great programs."
According to Amazon's website, Amazon Prime is currently priced at $99/year. However, users can sign up for a "30-day free trial" to access the show once it becomes available for streaming.