With the first series of Top Gear receiving a mixed reception, many will be looking forward to seeing how its rival show fares on Amazon Prime. It’s called The Grand Tour and will be presented by a certain Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond and airs on November 18.
In July 2015, the trio signed with online streaming service, after the BBC decided not to renew Clarkson’s contract following his “fracas” with a producer. However, it’s only more recently that details of the new show have started to emerge.
Here’s what we know so far.
Charlize Theron and Matt Damon will be going on tour
Clarkson has apparently managed to convince Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Matt Damon to join his new show. The Sun reports that the actors will appear on The Grand Tour, and among a list of A-listers who will be grinding gears with Clarkson, Hammond and May.
A source told the tabloid: “All the early signs suggest The Grand Tour will have a much bigger pulling power than Top Gear. Matt and Charlize are just two of the names involved. More big stars will follow. Top Gear’s influence and power has clearly waned without Jeremy at the helm.”
When can I watch Clarkson, Hammond and May on Amazon?
Clarkson, Hammond and May have signed up to present three 12-episode series, with each episode set to be roughly 60 minutes in length. The Grand Tour will air on 18 November. Mark your diaries.
The show will be available to anyone who has signed up to Amazon’s £79-per-year Prime streaming service, which also includes free delivery of items bought on Amazon. Amazon has also said that the new travelling format means that its customers around the world will have the chance to be in the audience when tickets are released through prize draws this summer.
However, while some Amazon series are made available all in one go so subscribers can “binge-watch” an entire series if they choose, the new motoring show is expected to stick to the once-a-week schedule familiar to Top Gear’s BBC Two viewers.
What else is happening on The Grand Tour?
We now know that the show will feature co-host May driving with a broken arm, Clarkson driving in a flak jacket and goggles while May shoots at him and Hammond waking up to find the car he is in has been airlifted.
Executive producer Andy Wilman revealed new content from the show’s films at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
Footage also shows the trio racing Maseratis, a Rolls Royce and a Porsche, as well as Clarkson on a jetski.
In a scene that drew big laughs, Hammond woke up in the front seat of a car to find himself flying and yelled: “What the f–k? You bastards!”
Wilman also revealed a look at the travelling tent (apparently Clarkson’s idea) the show takes place in – a huge black marquee with the show’s logo on the side which takes two to three days to put up. Inside, the audience sits round a small stage, with the hosts seated at a table.
In addition, he said that the second episode of the series was shot first and 90 per cent of the films have been shot, leaving them free to concentrate on the studio tour element.
Filming has taken place over the last few months, much of it in South Africa. Almost all of it has been shot leaving the team to concentrate on the studio tour element and doing the final edits.
Check out our The Grand Tour Series 1 Sightings & Spoilers post for more.
How similar will it be to Top Gear?
Regular elements of Top Gear, such as The Stig and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, are the property of the BBC, so won’t be carried over.
However, the format will still be familiar to Top Gear viewers, with a mix of studio-based chat and international adventures.
Former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, who has also moved to Amazon to work on the show, told Broadcast the three presenters would have “more time to yak” and their friendship would be the show’s central element.
“You can’t reinvent the sideways, Last of the Summer Wine-type relationship they have because that is outside of television, that is theirs,” he said. “But there will be a new look, new elements, new home.”
What cars will feature?
In the opening episode, the trio will compare three of the latest hybrid hypercars: the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder.
Clarkson previously drove the P1 in an episode of Top Gear, while May tried the LaFerrari and Hammond the 918. However, this will be the first time that they’ve tested the cars back-to-back.
Indeed, it’s quite a coup for the new show, because the BBC tried and failed to get Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche to agree to a back-to-back test.
All three cars are limited-run models capable of more that 200mph, but the Ferrari is the most expensive, at £1.15 million. The McLaren costs £866,000, while the Porsche is “just” £625,000.
However, it won’t all be supercars; at the other end of the motoring scale, Clarkson Hammond and May will also be driving three-wheeled Reliants.
Where will Clarkson, Hammond and May test cars?
Clarkson, Hammond and May obviously don’t have access to the Top Gear test track anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be forced to do all their testing on the road.
Instead, they’re expected to use a number of different motor racing circuits, including the Autodromo Internacional Algarve in Portugal.
On Twitter, Clarkson posted a video of the P1 racing down the track with the filming helicopter trying to keep up. The caption was “We’re going to need a faster helicopter”.
In addition to the first show being filmed in Johannesburg, Amazon has confirmed that Clarkson, Hammond and May will be filming in Germany and America, as well as visiting Yorkshire.
Each studio segment will be filmed in front of a live audience. Amazon will release tickets for the recording in a prize draw. As with the format for Top Gear, the Grand Tour will combine pre-recorded films with “studio” links.
How much is Clarkson being paid by Amazon?
Clarkson’s salary hasn’t been revealed, but the new show is said to have a budget of £160 million.
Spread over 36 episodes, that’s £4.5 million a show – more than four times the budget of Top Gear when Clarkson, Hammond and May were presenting it.
With such a large budget, the trio could blow up more than 1,125 caravans an episode, hold 54 car football matches or fire 375 Reliant Robins into space.
What other names were considered for The Grand Tour?
That The Grand Tour is such a straight name might be a disappointment to fans who had predicted some more amusing titles, from House of Cars (an early guess when Netflix was in the running for the show, based on its popular drama House of Cards) to Gear Knobs or Dipsticks.
Confirming the name of the show, Clarkson said: “We’ll be travelling the world hosting each episode in a different country, from a giant tent. It’s a sort of “grand tour”, if you like. So we’ve decided to call it ‘The Grand Tour’.”
May admitted to being underwhelmed by the name. “I wanted to call it ‘Nigel’, or ‘Roger’. We needed a name, and they’re names.”
Previously the presenters had released videos detailing their struggle with finding a name for the show.
In addition, Clarkson had explained in his column for the Sunday Times that the team keep thinking up ideas for names, only for them to be rejected by lawyers: “I spend at least six hours a day in my office — which is insured and smoke-free and resplendent with potted plants — sucking creatively on a corporate Biro as I wait for the daily 3pm ‘Anything yet?’ phone call from Amazon in Los Angeles.
“Every morning, I’d make a £7000 call to the lawyer with an idea, and every afternoon I’d get a £7000 reply saying it was already in use by someone in New Zealand or France or Ukraine.”
Clarkson also explained in the same column that “Gear Knobs” had indeed been under consideration at one point. “We thought it was amusing and hurriedly we put in another £7,000 call to the lawyer,” he said.
“She said the trademark was available, but it would be an unwise idea, owing to the laws surrounding intellectual property. In short, the BBC not only owns the rights to the Stig and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car and the Cool Wall, but also to any name that is remotely similar to Top Gear.”
Responding to the new name, Jay Marine, VP of Amazon Video Europe, said: “After nine months of deep thought, debate and deliberation, the guys have come up with a name that reflects the global ambition of the new show. The Grand Tour will be one of the most anticipated TV launches ever, and we’re excited to be bringing it to Amazon Prime customers around the world this autumn.”