Remember that time when the Top Gear crew were chased out of America’s Southeastern Bible Belt territory after covering their cars with hilarious slogans such as ‘Hilary for President’?
Clarkson, Hammond and May are daring to return to the area with their new show, The Grand Tour, which is set to be released on Amazon’s Prime online service next month.
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The trio’s travelling studio will be setting up camp in Nashville, Tennessee – and to celebrate, Amazon’s released a special Grand Tour playlist featuring their favourite songs.
They range from David Bowie’s Heroes to Get Ready by The Temptations and Behind Blue Eyes by The Who.
The announcement comes after The Grand Tour headed to Clarkson’s home county of Yorkshire (along with the location of the legendary ‘fracas’), to film an episode of the show in front of an audience in the coastal town of Whitby.
Indeed, filming for the Whitby episode is already complete, with the three presenters appearing in the soon to be famous green tent. The producers invited fans of Clarkson, Hammond and May to apply for tickets to the show, and – as expected – demand was so high, many people were left disappointed. Still, it won’t be long before The Grand Tour is being streamed via Amazon Prime.
The Grand Tour’s appearance in Whitby follows filming in Johannesburg and California, while the big green tent is being packed up ready for export to Finland and The Netherlands. The precise locations are confirmed as Lapland and Rotterdam. It might be cold in Lapland, Jezza. Just as well you’ve got a cardigan.
What else do we know about The Grand Tour?
For a start, excitement reached fever pitch last week with the release of the first official trailer. In just 90 seconds, the trailer passes the Mark Kermode ‘six laughs test’, suggesting The Grand Tour might be worth the extremely long wait. In fact, it feels like they never really went away…
There are cars, obviously, but there’s so much more besides. James May has fractured his arm. Jeremy Clarkson is attempting to pull a camel. There’s a tank. Jet skis. Not to mention a reference to Roger Moore and his white suit, in a setting that looks straight out of The Spy Who Loved Me. Excited? Read on to find out what else we know about The Grand Tour.
It won’t be on mainstream TV
Following Clarkson’s ‘fracas’, which led to the trio leaving the BBC, there was much speculation about where they’d appear next. Some expected them to appear on rival TV channels ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5 – but a clause in their contracts reportedly meant they wouldn’t be able to appear on a mainstream TV channel.
It’ll be shown on Amazon
The clause didn’t apply to online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, however – which partly explains why the trio will be appearing on Amazon’s Instant Video service.
It’ll be called The Grand Tour…
Another point that attracted a great deal of speculation was the name of the show. Many expected it to be called ‘Gear Knobs’ following a trademark application by a firm linked to the show, but Clarkson quickly quashed the rumours. A lawyer reportedly told the trio that it would be ‘unwise’ to use a name so close to Top Gear.
…because it is a ‘grand tour’
So why is The Grand Tour (or GT for short – the reverse of TG) called The Grand Tour? Simple, really – because it is a grand tour. Originally the series was expected to be filmed in countries around the world without a studio segment – but now a studio segment is expected, shot in tents in those various locations.
James May wanted to call it ‘Nigel’ or ‘Roger’
Not everyone approves of the name – with some suggesting it’s a tad dull. Even James May admitted it wasn’t his first choice of name… “I wanted to call it ‘Nigel’, or ‘Roger’,” he said. “We needed a name, and they’re names.”
It’ll be filmed around the world
An episode of The Grand Tour has already been shot in Johannesburg, South Africa, while other episodes are expected to be filmed in the UK, Germany and the USA. As expected, the big green tent has been erected in Yorkshire.
This is what the logo looks like
Newspapers. As there is very little going on at the moment, I thought you’d like to see our new Grand Tour logo. pic.twitter.com/xeePd1xsKM
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) June 28, 2016
The official logo was leaked on Reddit in June, with Richard Hammond confirming on Facebook that it was correct. He said: “Right, well, that saves us the bother of thinking up a clever way to unveil our new show’s logo: It has leaked. Not in the way my Landie leaks oil or James May leaks if he laughs or goes on a trampoline, I mean leaks as in the secret is out.
“Serves us right for trying to secure a European trademark. All things European proving a little tricky this week.”
The Grand Tour’s production company is called W. Chump and Sons
Following the trio’s departure from the BBC, they established a TV production company along with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman. The firm, which is responsible for The Grand Tour, is based in London and features the initial letters of its directors’ surnames in its name.
…and it owns four Reliant Robin company cars
Naturally, while looking for offices in London, the company put ‘generous parking space’ high on its list of priorities. It then filled some of those parking spaces with four Reliant Robins, bought as company cars for the four directors. They cost ‘less than £15,000’ and, Clarkson insists, they’re used regularly.
A competition has been held for tickets
If you’re desperate to see the former Top Gear trio live, you’ll be disappointed to hear that you’ve missed an opportunity to win tickets for the UK studio recording in October. General tickets will be available via the Amazon Prime website.
James May hurt his finger during filming
Don’t worry, he can still type. And no, I can’t tell you how he hurt it pic.twitter.com/F4iz4yDxXV
— Richard Hammond (@RichardHammond) July 22, 2016
Although not quite as big a deal as Hammond’s jet-powered crash during Top Gear filming in 2006, James May is thought to have hurt his finger during filming for The Grand Tour. Clarkson tweeted that he had a ‘poorly finger’.
Jeremy Clarkson has struggled to find steak
People of South Africa. What is this nonsense? pic.twitter.com/cojAH1d9Gs
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) July 15, 2016
Clarkson was famously sacked from Top Gear following a ‘fracas’ when a hotel refused to serve him steak because the chef had gone home. It seems that nothing has changed with filming of The Grand Tour, as he tweeted this picture with the caption: “People of South Africa. What is this nonsense?”
It will feature a Ford Focus RS
Although there’s expected to be the usual amount of ‘messing around’ between the presenters, The Grand Tour is ultimately a car show. We don’t know exactly which cars will appear, but Clarkson tweeted this picture of the new Ford Focus RS and Ford Mustang.
And ‘our’ Rolls-Royce Dawn
He also tweeted a picture of James May in a Rolls-Royce Dawn that looks suspiciously like the one Matt LeBlanc drove on Top Gear (and, more importantly, Motoring Research also drove earlier this year).
As well as the Aston Martin DB11
Aston’s DB9 replacement is expected to be one of the hottest cars of 2016, and Clarkson also revealed on Twitter that he’d been driving it. “It’s going to be a brutal day on the Grand Tour,” he said. “I’m driving an Aston Martin DB11 across Tuscany.”
The Grand Tour cost Amazon £160m
Although Amazon has never revealed how much it paid to bag The Grand Tour, it’s believed to be in the region of £160 million. That’s one of Amazon’s biggest deals ever.
The Grand Tour will be shown in autumn
Amazon Prime has confirmed the show will stream weekly from 18th November 2016. So you don’t have long to wait.
There’ll be 36 episodes
You’ll be pleased to know Clarkson, Hammond and May are unlikely to ‘do an Evans’ – they’re all contracted for 36 episodes, split up into three series. If they’re successful, Amazon’s likely to extend that.
It’ll cost £79 to watch it
Amazon will be hoping The Grand Tour will be a big seller for its Prime video service – as you’ll need to subscribe to watch the new show. It costs £79 a year, or you can pay £7.99 a month – and new members get a 30-day free trial. Sign up to that closer to the launch date and you’ll be able to watch several episodes for nothing.
There won’t be a Stig
Although the format is expected to be very similar to Top Gear, certain features including The Stig and Star in a Reasonably Priced Car belong to the BBC – so for copyright reasons, they won’t appear on The Grand Tour.