Clarkson and 'Top Gear' presenters sign with Amazon for new car show

Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:36pm EDT
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By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's former BBC "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson has signed an exclusive deal with Amazon to present a new motoring show for the online retailer's subscription service alongside co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.

Clarkson had generated both controversy and profits for Britain's publicly-funded broadcaster. His BBC contract was not renewed after he physically attacked a member of the "Top Gear" production staff in March.

The 55-year-old had become the popular face of the program by mixing a passion for cars with a swagger and blunt commentary that offended numerous groups over the years, including environmentalists, mental health charities and cyclists.

With "Top Gear" aired in more than 200 countries and watched by 350 million viewers worldwide, his dismissal made headlines around the world.

"I feel like I've climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship," he said of his new job, and in an apparent dig at his previous employer.

Amazon Prime, a subscription service that costs $99 per year or 79 pounds in Britain, offers free delivery to customers in the hope they will shop more with the online retailer.

As a further incentive, Prime members also receive a range of streaming music, movies and TV programs.

The service, which is estimated to have around 40 million members, is trying along with its rivals to make exclusive video content a key area of differentiation. Where Netflix has 'House of Cards' and 'Orange Is the New Black', Amazon Prime has 'Transparent' and now Clarkson's new motoring show.   Continued...

British television presenter Jeremy Clarkson returns to his home in west London March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville