Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is set to receive a windfall of up to £15 million, thanks to a new commercial deal that also ensures he will continue as the show's presenter for the next three years.
Clarkson, his co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, and Andy Wilman, the executive producer of the programme, have agreed new deals with BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, for undisclosed sums.
As part of the new arrangement, Worldwide takes full control of a joint venture project it had with Clarkson and Wilman, called Bedder 6, in which the duo previously had a 50 per cent stake between them.
Clarkson and Wilman received an annual dividend from Bedder 6 with Clarkson's most recent payout totalling £2.7 million. Although no figures are being revealed for the new deal, it is sure to be hefty sum to compensate for such a substantial amount.
Figures in this morning's newspapers ranged from an estimated £5m to three times that amount.
Bedder 6 was set up five years ago to harvest profits from Top Gear Live events and sales of merchandise around the world. It is believed to have grown its profits five-fold since its launch five years ago.
Top Gear has been one of BBC Worldwide's biggest moneyspinners with book and DVD sales, together with international sales of the programme.
A spokesman for BBC Worldwide said: "We have agreed new commercial deals with Jeremy, James, Richard and Andy to secure Top Gear's international future for another three years – without using a penny of licence fee money.''
In addition, the four men have agreed new commercial contracts with Worldwide. It means they are likely to continue their connection with Top Gear for at least the next three years.
Top news indeed for fans of the BBC2 show.