The race to sign the three former “Top Gear” hosts for a new automotive-focused unscripted series is said to be heading into the final laps, with ITV and Netflix in the lead. Hulu is also said to be in the mix.
It’s no secret that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have been in negotiations for weeks to set up a new show that would compete with the BBC mainstay, which is being relaunched with a new host, Chris Evans.
Clarkson was fired from “Top Gear” in March after physically assaulting a producer during a location shoot. He’d hosted the show in various incarnations since 1988 but for an absence from 1999 until the series relaunched in 2002.
WME is understood to be among those advising the threesome as they finalize their next chapter. Also joining the new program will be longtime producer Andy Wilman.
Hammond and May declined to renew their contracts with “Top Gear” after Clarkson’s hasty exit. It was that trio that took “Top Gear” to new heights thanks to the camaraderie and competition elements added to the format. During the past decade “Top Gear” became one of the BBC’s most-watched and most widely exported programs.
Netflix is said to have made a sizable offer — said to be for multiple seasons — to land the show. The SVOD giant is in the midst of an expansion push in the U.K. and Europe. The international profile of “Top Gear” combined with the strong U.K. interest in the trio’s comeback effort makes it a no-brainer for Netflix. Netflix currently carries past seasons of “Top Gear” going back to 2011.
Hulu Plus has streaming rights to “Top Gear” episodes going back to 2003, when the Clarkson, Hammond and May era of the show began. That gives Hulu a natural interest in pursuing the new show. But Hulu is said to be a less attractive option for the trio compared to ITV, with its heft in the U.K. and international distribution capabilities, or Netflix, which has embarked on an aggressive worldwide expansion.
Clarkson and May spurred a new round of speculation about a deal coming together soon with social-media posts on Friday that were read by fans as hints about the new show.