BBC Worldwide takes full control of Top Gear

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Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most important brands, both at home and as an international format. So it’s no real surprise to learn that the corporation’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has moved to secure the future of the franchise.

According to media reports, BBC Worldwide has taken control of Bedder 6, the indie company that manages the franchise in partnership with BBC Worldwide. In practical terms, this has meant  buying a 30% stake in Bedder 6 from Top Gear’s main presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a further 20% from the show’s producer Andy Wilman (thus giving BBC Worldwide 100% control of the company which was previously a joint venture).

In a further dimension to the deal, Clarkson and fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May have agreed to continue working on the show for three more years. Hammond and May were not shareholders in Bedder 6 so did not receive money for selling stakes. But the deal does give them a share of revenue in returning for undertaking promotional duties on the show.

Clarkson was already one of the BBC’s most highly-paid presenters. But at a time when many of the big earners are being asked to work for reduced salaries, this deal probably puts him in a league of his own (though it is important to stress that this is not a tax-payer funded deal, but a commercial arrangement managed out of BBC Worldwide).

For BBC Worldwide, the deal secures the future of a brand that makes money via format sales, completed show distribution, live events, magazines, home entertainment and licensing.