What a difference a few months can make. A little less than a year after being ‘cancelled’ for a published attack on Meghan Markle, Jeremy Clarkson has agreed to sign a megabucks new deal with Amazon.
The show, which began in 2021, has been a huge global hit as viewers have adored watching him swear, struggle and mostly fail on Diddly Squat Farm in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
The second series, which started streaming in February, was Prime Video’s most watched original show in the UK — by a mile. It easily beat the very expensive The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power drama.
Now I’m told Amazon want another three series — and Clarkson and his team want to keep on making them.
For decades Clarkson was the country’s pre-eminent motoring journalist thanks to Top Gear, but he was notably all at sea when trying his hand as a farmer on Clarkson’s Farm
The forthcoming series is going to be all about pigs. Kaleb Cooper, (right) the young farming contractor who has become a star, said recently that Clarkson is ‘annoyingly’ good as a pig farmer
Clarkson’s latest book – Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly – came out last month and was an instant bestseller
Nothing is signed yet. However, the expectation is that a deal — thought to be worth at least $250 million — will be announced when the third series starts streaming in March or April next year.
At this point it’s not clear whether Clarkson will carry on with The Grand Tour, also on Prime Video, or with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? for ITV.
Friends of the presenter say they would not be surprised if, at 63, he decided to concentrate solely on Clarkson’s Farm from now on. Filming runs from March to October.
The forthcoming series is going to be all about pigs. Kaleb Cooper, the young farming contractor who has become a star, said recently that Clarkson is ‘annoyingly’ good as a pig farmer: ‘I can’t say too much because I’ll be told off, but Jeremy’s bought some pigs this year. And, annoyingly, he’s a really good pig farmer.’
Clarkson’s latest book — Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly — came out last month and was an instant bestseller.
But he wrote himself into trouble last December, with a newspaper column about the Duchess of Sussex in which he professed to hate her ‘on a cellular level’ and said that he dreamed of her being paraded naked while a crowd threw excrement at her — a reference to a scene in TV’s Game Of Thrones.
He posted a lengthy apology on Instagram saying he had ‘completely messed up’ in the article, which is the most complained about in the history of Press regulator IPSO. He also sent an email to Prince Harry to express his profound apologies.
Clarkson filmed a final special of The Grand Tour in Botswana this summer with James May and Richard Hammond and it is due to go out next year.
Effervescent TV presenter Claudia Winkleman says the secret of her success is an ability to nap anywhere.
She told the How To Fail podcast: ‘I’m a sleep fanatic, I nap all the time. In fact I had all my family round for lunch and had a nap while they were all there in the room – and there were ten of us.
‘I was like: ‘Guys’, I’ve got to have some shut-eye.’ Laid on the sofa, had a little sleep.’
Di star’s ‘beautiful’ ghost scenes
Debicki describes the scenes between her and Dominic West, playing Prince Charles, as ‘beautiful’. She said: ‘We didn’t do any rehearsal. We kind of just opened our hearts up because it’s so easy to understand what the Charles character is feeling, because for anyone who’s lost anyone you know, the second you lose them, the only thing you would do – you would give anything for – is to talk to them one more time.
Actress Elizabeth Debicki – Princess Diana in The Crown – has spoken for the first time about the experience of depicting her as a ‘ghost’
‘I think what’s beautiful is that it’s an imagined Diana who has the freedom to say the things she’s always wanted to say to Charles, which is: ‘I have loved you so much’. I’m really glad that I got to say that in that character.’
Writer Peter Morgan has said that the Diana in these scenes is not a ghost but a visualisation in the minds of her family.
Mathematician Hannah Fry will be trying to keep Ian Hislop and Paul Merton under control in Have I Got News For You next Friday. She’s been on the panel five times previously and remarks drily: ‘When I studied maths at university this is not how I expected it would turn out.’
She was part of a revival of Tomorrow’s World in 2017 but says due to gloom about the fate of the planet – over climate change and AI – it will never come back.
‘There was a point when everyone was excited about what was around the corner, but now I think people are scared about what lies ahead.’
Janelle Monae says she has been dreaming of having tea with iconic Jazz Age dancer Josephine Baker – after taking magic mushrooms. ‘It was amazing,’ she declares.
And no wonder Baker has been on her mind, as a super-hot TV biopic of the dancer, titled De La Resistance, is now all systems go after the lifting of the writers’ and actors’ strikes, with Monae playing Baker.
Janelle Monae (pictured) says she has been dreaming of having tea with iconic Jazz Age dancer Josephine Baker – after taking magic mushrooms
The studio A24 is backing the series, which will concentrate on Baker’s role spying for the French Resistance during WWII. The film is being produced by Monae’s company, Wondaland. It’s based on a book, The Flame Of Resistance, which came out in 2022. You’ll recognise Monae from the movies Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Knives Out 2.
Non-binary Monae, who goes by ‘they’ or ‘she’, has an android alter ego who she calls upon in her music career. Her 2023 album The Age Of Pleasure has just been nominated for a Grammy.
She’s been nominated for ten Grammys since releasing her first album in 2003, but she’s not been so successful in the UK since her No. 1 single We Are Young in 2012. The Age Of Pleasure spent just one week in the charts at No. 49 and her last successful single reached No. 74… in 2018.
Uh-oh… Brace for a horror show
Dozens of behind-the-scenes and on-screen employees of This Morning have now been interviewed by barrister Jane Mulcahy KC, who is compiling a report on the allegedly ‘toxic culture’ of the show for ITV.
Departed hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield have spoken to her, as has Eamonn Holmes, who was once on the sofa on a Friday and is now an outspoken critic of the show.
‘Person X’ the young colleague with whom Schofield had an ‘unwise but not illegal’ relationship, is also understood to have cooperated.
Departed hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield have spoken to barrister Jane Mulcahy KC, who is compiling a report on the allegedly ‘toxic culture’ of the show for ITV
I’m told that Mulcahy has shown an interest in two issues in particular.
One is the ‘Holly bubble’ which saw presenters Holly and Phil (pictured) having very little to do with any of the crew or staff and thus being unaware of problems faced by the rank and file.
The other issue is what is being called ‘the cult of Frizell’.
This refers to current boss Martin Frizell, under whose stewardship Schofield was unimpeachable and unchallenged. Frizell, formerly an on-screen talent himself, is currently in the challenging position of supporting his wife, former TV presenter Fiona Phillips, who is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease aged only 62.
In September, executive Vivek Sharma was hired to work on the show as Frizell’s deputy, arriving from Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4, which has since been axed.
Those who read the tea leaves say that the report is going to be ‘a horror show’ for ITV and there are claims that some of those who were previously there will be ‘relieved’ to be away from it.
Holly quit last month after an alleged plot to kidnap her was uncovered. A spokesman for ITV declines to comment and sources close to Holly say that her decision to leave was nothing to do with the report.
It is expected to come out shortly before Christmas.
Vanessa Kirby is said to be the best thing about Ridley Scott’s long and uneven film Napoleon – and she got the gig after the first choice for Josephine, Jodie Comer, dropped out in order to star in the play Prima Facie.
Now Kirby has been subbed in again after Alicia Vikander dropped out of survival thriller Eden, which is being made in Australia with leading man Jude Law.
The film is a tale of lust and madness in the Galapagos Islands and is being directed by Ron Howard.
‘Never forget’: Dame Helen’s Holocaust plea
Helen Mirren, who played Israeli premier Golda Meir in Golda, released last month, has been reflecting on her deep connection to Israel in the wake of the terror attacks and war in the country.
Mirren faced controversy for her portrayal, some of it centred on the rather obvious use of prosthetics to enhance her physical resemblance to Meir, who led the country in 1973 during the Yom Kippur war.
Helen Mirren, who played Israeli premier Golda Meir in Golda, released last month, has been reflecting on her deep connection to Israel in the wake of the terror attacks and war in the country
Mirren said: ‘I’ve historically not had a deep profound understanding of Israel, but I’ve always had a connection with Israel. I don’t know, I’ve always had a sort of instinctive feeling about Israel.’
She added that she remembered Meir’s election as a ‘very important moment’, as it was the first time she had known a woman leading a country.
And she said: ‘One of the reasons that I’ve always supported Israel and felt for Israel is the Holocaust and my growing awareness – as a child growing up in London, post-war England – of what had actually happened.
‘It was so, so devastating and I still can’t quite grasp it, you know, it’s ungraspable. And the fact that it was very shortly before I was born — in my parents’ lifetime.
‘It was so monstrous, so inconceivably inhuman that I’ve always felt that we must never forget.’
Director Guy Nattiv said: ‘Waking up on October 7 and seeing the exact thing that happened to us in 1973 – times ten – I was gutted as was everyone else on our crew. When we did this research for this movie, we met with every single general from 1973. And all the people who wrote books. Everyone told us: ‘Listen, it was a debacle, but it will never happen again’.
‘And there you go, it happened again, even worse. I feel that this movie… it has double meaning now.’
After more than 100 days of strike, the actors are now unleashed, which means that campaigning for awards season, leading up to the Oscars, is suddenly in full swing.
This week we’ve had Annette Bening and Jodie Foster beating the drum for Nyad, Leonardo DiCaprio breaking into his hectic schedule of partying to promote Killers of the Flower Moon, Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan trumpeting the Bernstein biopic Maestro and premieres for four huge movies: The Color Purple, Saltburn, Napoleon and May December. Plus Oppenheimer’s Chris Nolan has been giving interviews and Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White have been making the rounds for wrestling picture The Iron Claw.
Meanwhile, some projects are very fast out of the gate post-strike. One priority for Netflix is the second season of Tim Burton’s Wednesday, a sensational hit last year.
It’s going to be filmed in Ireland (last time, it was Romania) from April and is set to have more horror than series one. There will also be more of the relationship between Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega and her mother Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones).