Jeremy Clarkson and Teammates Look to America for Production Partner

Jeremy Clarkson and Teammates Look America
David M. Benett/Getty Images

LONDON — Jeremy Clarkson and his former teammates from the BBC’s hit auto show “Top Gear” look likely to attach themselves to a U.S. production company or streaming platform in order to get round a “non-compete” clause in their old BBC contracts, according to a report.

The contractual clause would bar them from producing a motoring show for a U.K. rival TV network, such as ITV, until 2017, but the team — presenters Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, and former executive producer of “Top Gear” Andy Wilman — believe they have found a loophole, according to a source quoted by the Daily Mirror.

The team said that if they produce the show for a company from the U.S., or any other non-British company, the U.K. licensing rights could then be sold to ITV.

The source said: “It has been a battle with all the legal complications, but after some solid advice, Jeremy believes they’ll successfully get around the issues, despite the BBC making desperate efforts to stop them.”

One option would be to allow Netflix to stream the new show a day before traditional broadcasters.

The source said: “There are a few options on the table, including a split deal with Netflix, which should allow the guys to get back to doing what they do best and make great television.”

Negotiating with U.S.-based companies has forced Clarkson to avoid drinking too much alcohol, so he can keep a clear head during negotiations, he revealed last month.

He said: “While I try to find a new job, I’ve reassessed my drinking strategy. Californians have a habit of ringing at 11 p.m., and I couldn’t think as straight as they do with their leaves and mineral water existence if I was halfway through my third bottle of Leoube.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 11

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Bonnie Rinker says:

    I can’t wait until they’re back together on TV.

  2. joe says:

    after the way the A.H. talk about american cars,I wouldn`t let them in the country.

  3. Fred Hagemier says:

    I could see where the : no-complete : clause should be implemented to one who would quit and then go over to the a rival Co. But if one was fired and then not allowed to seak employment, all betts are off. Tell the guys go for it.

    • Fred says:

      The irony of the situation (IMHO) is that he wasn’t even fired – the BBC simply failed to offer him a new contract when his old one expired… More irony added because I would imagine that decking another BBC employee (from the same show!) would most likely have been considered legitimate grounds for the BBC to HAVE terminated him at that point. Especially after he came right out and stated prior to that altercation that he was “on his last warning” for his previous behavior.

      If the BBC had terminated him at that point – either for the act itself or for breach of contract on his part (assuming his contract was not worded in such a way to hinder such a move on the BBC’s part) – even if Mr. Clarkson had appealed via whatever mechanism is in place at the BBC (if any) and his contract had expired before the process finished, he’d still have been betwixt a rock and a hard place as far as fighting such a non-competition clause.

      As it stands now, a good lawyer (err… barrister? Excuse me, please, I’m a citizen of the United States) MIGHT make a valid case for such a clause to be disregarded simply by stating, for the record, that Mr. Clarkson would have been happy to sign a hypothetical new contract, but was not offered one.

      The above is, of course, assuming that his (then-)current contract was not worded in such a way that such a clause would be in effect regardless of who made the decision to terminate the business relationship (and assuming, furthermore, that such hypothetical contract-language would be enforceable if the BBC were the ones who terminated said relationship).

      It’s not relevant to the specific topic at hand, but I found myself saddened by the whole sequence of events. The man struck me as, well, an aging boy. Very likable most of the time – but immature, as many boys are, and prone to get himself into trouble. I can’t for the life of me understand why his last several contracts did not have language with “punishments” spelled out, IOW, official disciplinary procedures. That might have made the separation somewhat unnecessary. I could envision him being penalized financially for his tomfoolery, and more serious escapades would equal stiffer “fines.” Something as grave as physically attacking a coworker might cost him up to 1/3 (if not more) of his current contract, payable within 10 days, lol. Harsh – but fair, perhaps. Such a punishment would have allowed the BBC to end up looking like the good guy to everyone, methinks… The “Clarkson haters” would be happy that he was punished so severely, the fans would have been happy that he was still involved with the show – and the BBC would have been happy to have both gotten a refund on the contract and to have kept their cash cow (golden goose, lol?) intact and producing income. Win, win, and win.

      It was a magical thing, IMO. He insulted a great many people at one time or another (and so, to a lesser extent, did his co-presenters) – but he struck me as being a non-prejudicial insulter, lol; one never knew who he might insult next. Had the man spoke out against himself (which has happened), no one would have been surprised. Had someone else done the same, he would have taken it like a… Well, if one is willing to take what they dish out, what is the problem, really?

      Magical, also, of course, was the audience content. I’ve read that the “new” Top Gear will definitely have a woman. They weren’t sure who (at the point at which I read about it), just that there would be a woman. To me, that screams “checking off one of the requirements for political correctness” and “we’re hoping that this will attract female viewers.” Contrast that with the Clarkson/May/Hammond version of Top Gear – three men, not overwhelming “eleven on a ten-scale alpha males” by any stretch of the imagination, one anonymous, but presumed male, racing driver… and NO women. Nonetheless, it’s female viewership (and live audience member) percentages were outstanding. For a CAR show that wasn’t strictly a car show, with no women visible the majority of the time. Magical.

      It goes without saying (or certainly should) that the dynamic between the three presenters had a magic of its own.

      I didn’t know who this new presenter was, to be honest. I checked, via the Internet, reading about him and consuming YouTube content – and cannot say I was impressed. More to the point, I did not find him likable. If Mr. Clarkson was (is?) an ornery little boy, I find Mr. Evans to be a juvenile delinquent. I won’t be watching the show when it is broadcast on BBC America. Not out of a sense of loyalty to Mr. Clarkson, et al ( things happen; life goes on), but because it just doesn’t appear that it will be worth my time. To the BBC: Good luck with that. I hope it works for you, I really do. I assume it will sell… But I cannot imagine a universe in which it will be number one by any measurement whatsoever.

    • Dean Reilly says:

      i’m a huge fan of the show and hope the guy’s get back to making new show’s soon. it is ironic though that jeremy needs help from the U.S. now after stating his dislike for Americans on several occasions.when it comes down to impacting his wallet, we don’t look so bad.

      • Kevin Wyant says:

        Haha i was thinking that same thing but I don’t care about any of the comments he’s made about America and our cars. They usually are pretty crappy and I’m laughing along with their jokes lol. I just can’t wait until these three are back on the air so I can satisfy my motoring show itch

      • harryr11 says:

        Um, even though I’m an American, I have a fair number if British friends (my granddad was born & raised there before immigrating). An aspect of the British culture is to make pointed fun of friends, family, other Brits & other cultures & nationalities. It does get tiresome at times & was the principal reason I backed off moving there however no real harm is meant by it. Often Brits are surprised when others take offense. A lad culture sort of thing so it fits very well with Top Gear.

      • Fred says:

        I found many of his comments about us – I am a United States citizen, a so-called “American” (although this designation should rightfully include everyone from the northernmost point of North America to the southernmost point of South America, and everyone in between, so I don’t generally use it) – to be remarkably on point. After, that is, applying my “Clarkson filter,” lol; he did seem to… paint a picture of many people – and peoples – as caricatures. Not to mention that his thoughts on the vehicles manufactured here were generally valid. If I could create a list of my top ten vehicles and magically procure, license, and drive them all, I doubt any of them would be from the United States. Well… Okay, two: 1986/1987 Buick Grand National (I loved my Turbo Regal, even when it was stock (for the first five minutes I owned it, lol)) and the famed, almost mythical duesenberg ssj (also forced induction and also fully-able to live in today’s world and to keep up with todays vehicles – which is remarkable, considering the fact that it was a product of the 1930s). Other than those two? Not so much.

        You’ll remember that the trio HAVE filmed in the United States, and that they were memorable and (AfaIK) well-rated episodes.

        We might not be his favorite people, but he doesn’t hate us, lol – and we like him and his fellows just fine, thanks. Come on over, Mr. Clarkson! Get a nice automobile (you’ll probably have to import it :rolleyes: ). Find a little-traveled highway, and on that highway find a law enforcement officer running a radar speed trap. Stop and offer him an autographed photograph if he’ll tell you how fast you and your automobile are capable of driving. Get taken up on your offer. Welcome to “America,” lol.

      • F.J.L. says:

        Agreed. I say screw the racist, bigot that he is.
        I will never watch any show that he is on.

  4. David Benjamin says:

    Jeremy Clarkson cracks me up. I love Top Gear!

More TV News from Variety