Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 15:45 UK

Top Gear pay 'row' is played down

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May
The exploits of Hammond, Clarkson and May are seen around the world

Top Gear host James May is not seeking the same pay packet as his co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson, May's agent has said.

Recent reports have suggested the BBC motoring show's stars were unhappy over a deal for Clarkson which the Daily Mail put at almost 2 million a year.

"We are not looking for parity with Jeremy but the best deal we can secure for James," said Annie Sweetbaum, a spokeswoman for Arlington Enterprises.

The BBC said it would not comment on contract negotiations involving stars.

However, it is believed Clarkson earns far more than fellow presenters May and Richard Hammond because he has a stake in the rights of the series.

'Lengthy' talks ahead

Ms Sweetbaum said negotiations had "only just started" and the final figure for May was "never going to be what the BBC first offer".

"It is normal for talks to continue for some time before agreement is made," she added.

The agent representing Hammond - who nearly died during a high-speed crash while filming in 2006 - was unavailable for comment.

The programme regularly attracts audiences of more than eight million when it is shown on BBC Two in the UK.

It is also screened by numerous broadcasters around the world and production is due to begin on an Australian spin-off, featuring different presenters.

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