After a year of work, and about a million air miles, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s new motoring show will soon make its debut on Amazon Prime and almost everyone who Clarkson meets asks him the same question: “Why the bloody hell has it taken so long?”
Clarkson has revealed that his standard answer is “that anything involving James May is bound to take an age. This is a man who takes two hours to have a dump.”
But the truth is it actually took the team quite a long time to get started in the first place.
“For 12 years, Richard Hammond, James and I had worked together at the BBC which is a bit like being children, living at home,” Clarkson says. “We drove round corners while shouting, producer Andy Wilman edited it all together, and the Beeb did all the boring stuff — insurance, compliance, health and safety, staffing, and watering the plants in the office.”
“Happily, a friend lent us an office in Marylebone and Richard Hammond immediately appointed himself stationery manager. He bought a ruler, some highlighter pens and a batch of paper,” Clarkson continues. “I sat about in a corner thinking of what we could do with the new Lamborghini and Andy Wilman sat in another corner telling me that before we could do anything at all, we’d need some cameramen, a bank account, some researchers, and all the other stuff that the Beeb used to do. James meanwhile was on the lavatory, playing Battleships on his iPad.”
Bit by bit, Clarkson and Co. started piecing everything together – they found a track, employed a racing driver and also got their heads around the complexities of filming in 4K. They even managed to find an office of their own in a street called “Power Road”, and eventually, they were ready to make their first proper film. The location was Northern France, the subject was three old Maseratis and the meeting point was St Pancras station at 7am.
“Richard was there on time and so was I. But there was no James,” Clarkson explains. “Then the phone rang. It was Andy, the producer. ‘James fell over coming out of a restaurant last night and has broken his arm.’ ”
“Now on a normal show, the whole shoot would be cancelled and we’d rush round to see James with flowers and chocolate and sympathy. But this is not a normal show. So Andy went on: ‘I’ve told him to stop being an arse and get on the next train. He’ll be with you at 11, and he can drive the Maserati with the automatic gearbox.'”
Their nine-month filming blitz would eventually take them to Barbados, Jordan, Namibia, Italy, Germany, California, Morocco, Tennessee, Dubai, Finland, Holland, South Africa and of course, Whitby.
The fruit of their labours will air on Friday evenings, beginning on November 18 and will run for 12 weeks.