A tweet out of the blue from Jeremy Clarkson finally ended speculation about where the former Top Gear team will end up broadcasting their next motoring show.

 

Amazon has announced that Clarkson, along with Richard Hammond and James May, will start filming later this year, with broadcasts scheduled to begin in 2016. The shows will be exclusive to Amazon Video, which is available to customers who subscribe to the Amazon Prime service.

Long-time Top Gear producer Andy Wilman is also on board for the new show, the name of which has yet to be disclosed.

On leaving the BBC and joining Amazon, Clarkson says: "I feel like I've climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship." 

Top Gear ceased broadcasting during the 22nd series due to a well-publicised falling out between Clarkson and show producer Oisin Tymon. 

Previously, the most popular guess about where the Top Gear trio would end up suggested that Netflix was the most likely home, because the subscription streaming service had the cash to get a rebooted motoring show up and running. Rumours had suggested that the trio's new show could be called House of Cars.

Potential deals with ITV and Sky were thought to be off limits due to contractual clauses preventing the trio from appearing on direct BBC TV rivals until 2017. Streaming services such as Amazon Video are exempted from such restrictions.

The BBC has announced that Top Gear will return with a new presenting team headed by Chris Evans

From Amazon's point of view, the investment in a 'new Top Gear' represents a serious statement of intent.

Amazon Video comes as part of the Amazon Prime package, which costs £79 per year for UK subscribers. For most people, the incentive is to get free delivery of items ordered online, rather than to get access to the streaming video and music services which are also part of the subscription. Being the only place that you can watch Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May could be incentive enough for fans to put their hands in their pockets. The video service is also available for £5.99 per month if you prefer.

Not all Amazon Video content is available to Prime customers and it is not yet clear whether there will be a further charge for those wanting to watch the new show. The main ways to get the broadcasts on your telly are using games consoles, compatible Blu-Ray players or watching Smart TV apps.

Top Gear is famous for its high production values and sumptuous camera work. Amazon's service offers a good selection of 4K films and TV shows. You'll find around 37 hours of TV, including many Amazon Originals shows such as Alpha House Season 2, Mad Dogs and Transparent, all available in 4K and all included in the Prime price. The trio's trademark combination of wide-open landscapes, sumptuous motors and buffoon-like behaviour would be the perfect advert for the service.

It's not the first time that Amazon has picked up a BBC cast-off. Grisly drama Ripper Street was canned after two series by the BBC, but production was picked up by Amazon for the third series. The series was then licensed back to the BBC for TV broadcast for a fee.

This situation is not the same because only the presenting and production team are carried over, rather than the programme per se. That said, if the new Chris Evans-fronted TG fails to find favour with viewers, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Auntie Beeb could licence the new show back. This would diffuse the political pressure that comes with having high-ticket talent on the payroll, although without the rich revenue stream which meant the BBC were willing to stomach the show's social faux pas for as long as it did.

Whatever the outcome, it is ultimately good news, whether or not you like Clarkson, Hammond, May and Wilman's collective work. If you don't, your licence fee is not contributing to their high jinks, and if you do, they will back on your TV before the daffodils are out.

We're looking forward to it already.