Prime Video UK is yet to decide on the future of doc series Clarkson’s Farm following the furor over Jeremy Clarkson’s incendiary column about Meghan Markle earlier this year.
There has been much speculation Amazon’s streaming service will not renew the popular show after the backlash against Clarkson’s column, which became UK press regulator IPSO’s most complained about article of all time, but execs today have said a decision hasn’t yet been made.
In the piece, Clarkson wrote Markle should be “made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds throw lumps of excrement at her.”
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Quizzed about the future of the Expectation-produced show during a Prime Video commissioner session today at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Head of UK Unscripted Fozia Khan said Prime Video had been “shocked and disappointed” by the column.
Prime Video UK Head of Originals Dan Grabiner confirmed production on Season 3 had continued while discussions about its future continue.
“There are lots of discussions going on but the thing that’s important to say is there is so much more going on to the show than Clarkson,” added Khan.
Despite the controversy, Clarkson’s Farm season 2 in February became Prime Video’s biggest UK original, since ratings body Barb began tracking the streamer’s shows. Variety reported in January that the show will be dropped in 2024, though Prime Videos said this isn’t confirmed.
“No decisions have been made,” said Grabiner. “It’s a very complex topic but we are not interrupting production of the current season.”
He continued: “I can’t tell you what a phenomenon this show is and the impact it’s had on the agricultural community. We get messages from farmers around the world who just love the show, saying they’ve never really seen their world reflected properly on screen before. It’s a hell of a lot bigger than Jeremy Clarkson.”
Session host Scott Bryan countered: “The show is called Clarkson’s Farm” to chuckles from the audience and the Amazon execs.
‘Nothing Beats A Commission’
Earlier in the session, Grabiner addressed the commissioning slowdown in the UK, which has been one of the big talking points of this year’s Edinburgh. Contrary to some of the country’s networks, he said Prime Video has been expanding its slate.
“We’re growing out slate and commissioning more than ever, which might be an usual thing to hear at this festival where the market is so very challenged,” he said. “We don’t have a huge slate and have never been in the business of commissioning hundreds of shows, so we continue to invest more and more each year.
“We are equally very conscious of the struggles of the wider market. The best thing we can do is commission shows. Freelancers want to work on shows, we want to buy them and make them and big teams doing their thing; using the skills this market is so famous for.”
Grabiner added Prime Video has been investing more in training and up-skilling, to help freelancers and crew attain new work. It recently launched Prime Video Pathway, a £10M ($13M) training initiative. “A big problem is people getting stuck in the industry and hitting a ceiling and that’s what the Pathway is about – helping people navigate through,” he added. “But nothing beats a commission.”
On the subject of commissions, Prime Video has released a never-seen-before image of disgraced former journalist Mazher Mahmood ahead of the streamer’s UK original doc series The Fake Sheikh, which launches on September 26 around the world.
The series, from BBC Studios-owned Voltage TV, features several people who were stung by Mahmood, who would trap targets by dressing as an Arab sheikh. They include Emma Morgan and model Jodie Kidd, who provides an exclusive interview and describes for the first time about what happened to her and how it impacted her.
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