Former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have registered a new company together and reportedly signed a contract outlining what should happen if their relationship ever falls apart.
The 46-page document, written by law firm Olswang, includes topics such as decision-making, conflicts of interests, removal of directors, and errors and disputes, according to the Daily Mirror.
The new company, Chump Holdings, which was registered earlier this month with Companies House, is also part owned by producer Andy Wilman and is linked to two other companies W Chump & Sons Limited and Chump Productions Limited.
The former Top Gear trio are directors for all three companies, with the contract apparently in place to protect their rights if disputes arise down the line.
“Just in case Clarkson ever suffers creative differences with his long-term sidekicks, they have taken the precaution of drawing up a step-by-step guide to clearing the air – or ending the arrangement,” says the Mirror.
If a fall-out should occur, the directors will hold a general meeting and use a show of hands to determine a unanimous or majority decision.
One source told the Mirror: “Jeremy Clarkson is well known for having disagreements with people. It’s better that they have taken these steps at the outset so they can avoid things coming to blows later on.”
Clarkson left the BBC in disgrace after he punched a colleague in the face in a dispute over hot food during filming for Top Gear.
After an investigation, the BBC‘s director general Tony Hall said that it was with “great regret” that he had decided not to renew Clarkson’s contract.
But team chemistry has always been at the heart of the collaboration between Clarkson, Hammond and May and is regarded by many as critical to the success of the team’s future show for Amazon Prime. In the absence of Clarkson and co, many media watchers are sceptical that Top Gear will remain successful under its new presenting line-up led by Chris Evans.
Over the years a number of franchises of Top Gear have been launched in India, Malaysia, Russia, the Netherlands and Australia, but none of them has ever managed to reproduce the chemistry that exists between May, Hammond and Clarkson, so it is understandable that the trio want to protect themselves in the event of a fallout.
Meanwhile, broadcasting regulator Ofcom has announced that it is extending its remit to cover online television content as well as terrestrial TV.
The news will be a “blow” to Clarkson, according to the Daily Mail, who has said in the past that he was looking forward to freedom from “finger wagging”.
After signing with Amazon Prime, Clarkson said that he was ready for life “in the free world,” where “you can say what you want.”
The news that his new show will still be overseen by the TV regulator means that Clarkson will still be subject to Ofcom’s rules.
Clarkson was censured during his time at the helm of Top Gear for using the word “slope” to refer to an Asian man. He was also criticised in 2005 for throwing a Nazi salute when talking about a German-made Mini and found himself in trouble again for commenting that a car made in Malaysia had been built by “jungle people who wear leaves as shoes”.
When he signed with Amazon, the 55-year-old presenter said he was looking forward to entering “the dizzying world of modern narrowcasting” where “you can say what you want.”
He added: “Out there, in the free world, there’s no [Ofcom]. There’s no finger wagging.”
Clarkson, Hammond and May have signed up for a new £160m motoring show on Amazon Prime which is expected to reach screens next year.