The Grand Tour

James May Interview: Why Amazon? Expenses? Next 24 Locations?

After the boys finished taping in Nashville, they were quickly rushed off to New York City to do a reported 26 interviews. One of the best ones we could find was the interview James May did with

The interview was conducted at the Classic Car Club Manhattan and the reporter, Devon Ivie, was most likely assigned to James May because of the previous piece he did here for the online magazine:

Ivie covered a lot of familiar topics such as the differences between the BBC and Amazon, the trademarks and legal issues they try to avoid, the details of the first episode . . .blah blah blah. We’ve heard most of the answers before in the form of pies, champagnes and other edible materials, but there were eventually some great questions from Ivie.

I recommend checking out the full interview by clicking here as Ivie does a great job at having a candid conversation with Captain Slow and here are some of the excerpts we found the most interesting:

How did you three decide that Amazon would be the best home for the new show?
Amazon was prepared to do it in such a way that they would give us a healthy budget, but they would also let us produce the show as our own entity. We formed a production company [W. Chump and Sons] to do it. So we had a budget, freedom to do it ourselves, and then we had to make a car show. Can’t do much else, and it’s best that they leave it to us.

Did you field other offers? I’m sure there was a massive amount of interest.
We had a sort of gentleman’s agreement that whoever we decided to choose, we wouldn’t reveal what the others were. But they were massive, massive organizations! Brilliant!

Jeff Bezos has said that the show is “very, very, very expensive,” and the sharp production quality attests to that. How were the traveling-tent studio and cinematic segments fleshed out?
The cinematic element is that it’s in 4K, which makes all the difference, and also makes it a lotmore difficult to do. You need more kits and people and there’s a huge amount of data, which has to be shipped back and makes the edit take longer.

Over the years, we’ve been honed in with probably the best team in the world for filming cars and recording the sound of cars. It’s mainly down to them. A bit of it is 4K, but that in itself is just the tool. The tool doesn’t do the job. It’s the craftsperson who does the job, and we have the best picture and sound-craft people in the business.

But it turns out to be much more complicated than you imagine — because, of course, you need a big tent. Plus you need a hospitality tent, a support tent, a guest tent, and a technical tent for all of that 4K outside-broadcast type stuff. All the tents! By the time you finish, you’ve actually built a portable studio. It takes about a week to take apart, it’s unbelievable. It’s worth it, but it’s very complicated and I’m afraid to say an easily expensive operation.

You have 36 episodes planned for The Grand Tour. Are there any cities where you’re particularly keen to pitch the tent?
We haven’t decided the next 24 locations yet. I’d quite like to film in Central Park. I think we have asked, but we’re not allowed to. We’d like to put it in Hyde Park in London as well, but it’s either not allowed or too complicated or too expensive. Other places I’d quite like to go to are South America. Mexico too. We’ve done a lot of deserts, like in the first episode obviously, so it would be nice if we went somewhere very snowy. Asia and the Middle East would be great. We can even possibly do one in Australia or New Zealand, but we’d have to plan that really well.

The Grand Tour has been in development for more than a year. Is it a relief to finally have the series out there?
It is. We tried to tell ourselves that we were relaxed.

But it was still fantastic as the first episode starting streaming and we looked on the Twitter feed and saw all of these nice things coming through. I pressed the Twitter icon and I thought, shall I? But it was all good.

The best part from this interview has to be the amazingly classy move to credit the crew for why the expenses are so high. You pay for what you get and that’s definitely something the BBC never understood and probably won’t ever understand. When I was at the taping in California, you could see the behind scenes effort and skill that truly make this the greatest show in the world.

The interview also left me wondering where the next 12 locations are going to be, much less the next 24! This definitely has to be one of the greatest traveling shows in entertainment history and in an age of digital-everything, an example of how getting back in touch with the people can still be an effective way to build excitement for a show.

So, where do you think the show is traveling for Season 2? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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  1. Of course you’re coming back to Canada. If you want snow, we have lots. I’m thinking somewhere in the Yukon would be awesome..

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