What’s going on at Top Gear?
By LJ Hutchins
Monday, July 7th, 2008
News is trickling through about a bit of a dispute between the BBC and members of the Top Gear team. And the inevitable reason is that common root of all evil – money.
It’s contract re-negotiation time and the chaps reportedly find themselves in the same situation that has landed so many members of 1980s pop bands in protracted legal disputes.
Basically, Clarkson gets paid more than the other two because, like Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, he has the most input into the programme.
While the others are not seeking parity with him, not least because they work on other projects while he sticks with the show, they are hoping to trouser a bit more than the BBC currently wants to part with.
Hammond and May need to sign a new contract by the end of July and have not yet done so thanks to “stalled negotiations”.
Matters seem to have got sufficiently tense that elements of this narrative have found their way into the popular prints.
However, do not fear. You will not be deprived of your weekly dose of road-legal dodgems, the scandalous wrecking of old Austins and general cocking around raised to an art form.
After stories in papers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail and The Telegraph reached a critical mass of doom the producers were provoked into intervening.
A statement from Andy Wilman published on the show’s blog says: “Just for the record, Richard and James’ contracts are up soon – no big deal, contracts do end – and their agents are negotiating new ones.
“They want an amount, the BBC wants to pay a different amount – again, no surprises there, that’s how business works every minute of every day – and there’ll be horse trading until a number is reached.
“But let me also say Richard and James have never ever ever asked to be on equal pay to Jeremy. They are the first to admit that he came up with the new show, and that he does nothing but this show and is the engine room of it, whereas they, quite understandably, like to do other projects as well as Top Gear, and therefore the pay should reflect that.”
He goes onto say that the latest episode, in which the team does unspeakable things to a fleet of Alfa Romeos, illustrates why the programme is still at the top of its game.
“Well, the focus is bang on – basically the love you can have for a car, especially a shit, charismatic one that provides so many mishaps and laughs, and I also think it shows the three boys at their best.
“…Let’s not forget that at the heart of this show lies the chemistry between the chaps, and the best script in the world can’t engineer the laughter and quarrels that spew forth.”
There. So now you know. You can read the full piece here.