Former 'Top Gear' Producer: Amazon Deal Was "Strongest and Most Intelligent Offer"
Andy Wilman claims the new motoring show with Jeremy Clarkson will offer "lots of newness."
Just a day after Amazon announced that it had snared the highly sought-after signatures of Jeremy Clarkson and his former Top Gear co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond for a new motoring show, their producer has revealed more about the deal.
Andy Wilman, who helped create Top Gear’s most recent and hugely popular format with Clarkson and remained its producer until shortly after the controversial presenter was dismissed in March this year, told Broadcast magazine that Amazon’s was the "strongest and most intelligent offer."
"Money, freedom and a love of quality. Those three things are what was attractive," he said, claiming that the new show has been backed by a "really good budget,” believed to be Amazon’s single biggest investment in original content to date.
"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," he said. Following the announcement on Thursday, many industry voices indicated that freedom from the demands of advertisers, as offered by the BBC and SVOD platforms like Amazon, was crucial for the show's success, with the hosts known to trash-talk car manufacturers.
Wilman also disclosed some details about the new program's format, which would include "lots of newness" but still some echoes of the team’s Top Gear heritage, with "indoor" studio elements and international escapades.
"But there will be a new look, new elements, new home. We’ve been so busy doing the bloody deal ... that [the development] process now begins in earnest," he said.
Each of the three seasons commissioned by Amazon will feature 12 episodes of roughly 60 minutes in length, he claimed, with the first due for delivery in the fall of next year. But unlike other streaming formats, he suggested the season might not be made available in one go, instead keeping with the weekly scheduling Top Gear enjoyed on the BBC.
"We’re a one trick pony, I wouldn’t watch 12 episodes in a row," he joked.
In the wake of Clarkson’s dismissal from the BBC, Wilman admitted that there had been "very early chats" with fellow British broadcaster ITV, but a contractual clause had barred them from creating a motoring series on a terrestrial rival for two years.
And on the "fracas" that led to Clarkson’s departure (he punched a producer), Wilman said that that the Top Gear team would have stayed with the BBC had it not have happened, while also welcoming his old show’s reboot.
"We didn’t plan this and we would have carried on but that’s life, and crikey it’s looking pretty good right now," he said. "We get to carry on working, we get new challenges and Top Gear is in good hands. The viewers get two car shows, there’s nothing wrong with that."