Top Gear host's pay nearly NZ$7m

01:29, Jul 17 2012
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
MANY REASONS TO SMILE: Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson whose pay is set to be nearly $7m this year.

Television motoring guru Jeremy Clarkson's pay has reportedly hit a whopping NZ$6.8 million after a bonus from the company behind the "commerical exploitation" of Top Gear.

The Guardian today reported that Clarkson's £900,000 (NZ$1.76m) bonus boosted his income to around £3.5m (NZ$6.8m) compared to £2.65m (NZ$5.19m) the previous year and makes the motoring show presenter the highest-paid BBC star.

Clarkson's bonus comes via a 30 per cent stake in a company called Bedder 6 - 50 per cent owned by BBC Worldwide - and set up to market Top Gear. With the company set to declare a dividend of around £9m, Clarkson's share is set to be £2.7m this year compared to £1.8m last year.

When that income is added to a BBC payment of £350,000 and a separate "talent fee" of around £500,000, it puts him ahead of the likes of talk show host Graham Norton and football star Gary Lineker as the highest-paid star on the BBC.

The Guardian reported Bedder 6 was set up to allow Clarkson to benefit from the commercialisation of Top Gear without drawing large sums from the BBC's licence fee. The growth of Top Gear has meant that the deal has proved particularly lucrative, at a time when other BBC stars have had to face pay cuts because the Corporation is cutting back on its licence fee spending.