Clarkson and co are blocked from appearing on ITV until 2017

Former Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have been blocked from signing for ITV to front a new motoring show by a clause in their previous BBC contract. 

The stars cannot appear on a rival terrestrial British TV channel for two years despite the acrimonious nature of their departure from Top Gear. 

It is understood, the clause would not prevent them from risking signing with an internet-based service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, which both commission original TV shows.

ITV are understood to be very keen to sign up the former Top Gear stars because they are viewed as pure ratings gold, and they have an unrivalled international following, which was worth an estimated £40 million a year to the BBC. 

The BBC have announced that Chris Evans will front the next series of Top Gear, which will undergo a major revamp, in an effort to continue the lucrative foreign revenue stream for the corporation.