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Friday 21 October 2016

Apple 'bid for Jeremy Clarkson' as it plans its own Netflix-style TV shows

James Titcomb

Published 01/09/2015 | 14:18

Top Gear
Top Gear

Apple is hatching plans to create its own original TV shows, even making an audacious bid to secure the former stars of Top Gear, according to reports.

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The iPhone maker has reportedly met several high-level media executives with a view to creating its own shows in the same way that Amazon and Netflix have in recent years.

Apple even attempted to win a bidding war for Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, the former stars of the BBC's Top Gear, according to Variety. Amazon eventually secured the deal in July, paying a reported $250m (£160m) for the trio.

Moving into original content would be a major step for Apple, which makes most of its money from selling hardware. It sells music, films and TV shows on the iTunes Store, but not its own. However, the company did make a move into production with Beats 1, the international radio station included in Apple Music.

Netflix and Amazon's Prime TV have invested heavily in original content, producing critically acclaimed titles such as House of Cards and Transparent, although the Clarkson investment represents another level.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a new model of its internet-connected set top box Apple TV next Wednesday, alongside new iPhone and iPad models. The company has not refreshed the Apple TV for two and a half years, and the device has been described as a "hobby" by chief executive Tim Cook, but it is believed to be considering a further push for control of the living room.

In April, HBO's on-demand service went live exclusively on Apple devices, and the company is believed to have been locked in discussions with networks for some time about a live TV service. Cook reportedly hoped to announce the service next week before negotiations stalled.

Although some sources quoted by Variety suggested Apple's plans were at an early stage, a bid for Clarkson would imply they are serious.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, told The Telegraph last month that its motoring show starring Clarkson, Hammond and May will be "very, very expensive".

"They’re worth a lot and they know it," he said.

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