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Amazon: Clarkson show “very, very, very expensive”

Proclaiming a “golden age of television”, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has suggested the planned motoring show to be presented on its Prime Instant Video TV streaming service by the ex-Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond will be loved by viewers in the UK and around the world.

Interviewed by UK daily newspaper The Telegraph, Bezos admitted to being“very excited” about the concept, and although unwilling to divulge the cost of the show – rumoured to have a budget of £160 million (€225m) – admits the show will be “very, very, very expensive,” for Amazon, declaring, “They’re worth a lot and they know it.”

He suggested that the new programme wouldn’t necessarily come to define Prime. “It can’t just be one show, it has to be a number of things. We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love. And I think Clarkson’s new show is going to be one of those,” he added.

“I think we’re in a golden age of television, so if you go back in time even just five years, you couldn’t get A-list talent to do TV serials, or, if you could, it was a rare thing. But that’s flipped completely,” he observed.

Amazon’s investment in original programming such as comedy drama Transparent, which has won widespread critical acclaim, is highlighted as an important factor in the transformation. “The investment is very high now in serialised TV, and the amount of time you have to tell a story is much greater. That format change opens up a lot of storytelling possibilities, which, when mixed with the movie-like production standards, and the A-list talent, is why we’re seeing amazing television,” he suggested.

Such production standards are evident in the third series of crime drama Ripper Street, which has just started screening on BBC1 in the UK having been originally dropped by the broadcaster. In February 2014, Amazon confirmed further investment into exclusive and original content in a landmark deal that saw the company acquire UK subscription streaming rights to the programme.

Brand new episodes were made available exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video members from November 2014.

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