To say that Chris Evans’ journey at the helm of Top Gear was ‘rocky’ would be an understatement, but now Jeremy Clarkson has also admitted that it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing when they started working on The Grand Tour, either.
“The newspapers had got it into their heads that, because we had £400m an episode, we’d be reporting each week from a different planet,” Clarkson wrote in his Sunday Times column. Jeremy begins by admitting that the location was the first issue, and that while he’d hoped to front the show from a former RAF airfield, along the lines of what they did with Top Gear, “we couldn’t host the show from a static location because, although it had been our idea, the BBC owned it”.
He also cited problems with the show’s budget, “contrary to what you may have read in various hysterical reports – it was not much bigger than it had been at the BBC” and also with airport customs, “they decided to impound just one of our containers: the one containing the tent’s feet… it renders the whole operation pointless” and even, yes, nerves as problems he faced during production.
“The newspapers had got it into their heads that, because we had £400m an episode, we’d be reporting each week from a different planet. Would everyone be disappointed to find the films had all been shot on Earth? And that they were still full of three middle-aged men falling over? With the occasional car sticking its nose into the frame?” – Jeremy Clarkson
There were other problems, not least the fact the show is recorded in 4K ultra-high definition. “Our biggest worry, however, was the makeup girl … who turned up with a bag full of Artex and some trowels. Hammond was first in the chair and after half an hour emerged looking like he’d just arrived from Easter Island. It simply wasn’t him,” Clarkson wrote.
“With all the makeup on, speech was impossible because we couldn’t move our mouths. James had breathing difficulties. I couldn’t get my head off the floor because it weighed so much. Some chisels were found and soon we began to emerge from our tombs, like skeletons unearthed at an archaeological dig.”
The first episode of ‘The Grand Tour’ will begin streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday, 18 November.