Top Gear team heading to Amazon

JEREMY Clarkson and his unique brand of television presentation represent the latest in a whirlwind of inducements to fork out for a subscription to Amazon's Prime service.

Only 24 hours earlier it has been the UK version of the Prime Music service, offering free streaming and downloads of 1 million songs by artists ranging from Madonna to Mark Ronson. Now it's the new show by Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Not content with domination of entire swathes of the retail sector, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants more Amazon users to pay £79-a-year for a shopping experience that includes options for delivery on Sundays and, for those in London, in the space of one hour. Bezos has described Prime, which launched in the UK eight years ago and has several million customers in this country, as "the best deal in the history of shopping".

Prime now extends way beyond the rapid transport of a cardboard parcel. The elite service is almost continually adding new perks. Its Kindle Owners Lending Library made 800,000 book titles available for free loan to those owning an Amazon digital reader - provided they were Prime customers.

Then came Prime Instant Video, offering unlimited streaming of 15,000 film and TV titles. The success of shows such as Transparent, now nominated for 11 Emmys, and Bosch, created by crime fiction writer Michael Connelly, has helped create a new platform and made Amazon a rival to Netflix.

At the end of last year Amazon introduced another inducement, Prime Photos, offering unlimited storage in the cloud. Its Prime Music service has been running for a year in the US and has overhauled established streaming services including Deezer, Rhapsody and Google Play. It represents a threat to the newly-launched Apple Music. The UK service is expected to make similar inroads.

For many independent book shops and small record stores, the irresistible tornado that is the rise of Prime has left a trail of destruction. But for Jeremy Clarkson and his chums, Bezos and his billions offer an open road, away from the strictures of the BBC.