The Grand Tour

Richard Hammond’s The Great Escapists Receiving Largely Negative Reviews

When we first heard about Richard Hammond joining Tory Belleci for a new desert island survival show, we were hooked with the idea. But then the trailer was released for The Great Escapists, and we quickly turned off the idea. Now, I’m not saying the trailer was bad, but it was fairly obvious that the show wasn’t targeting viewers of my age, 25-35. Instead, it was targeting children.

Let me put it plainly before you start raging at me in the comments – this is fine! Hammond has always enjoyed producing children’s TV, and Tory was perfect as his partner in this role. But, as we expected, the negative reviews began to roll in. Here are some highlights (or lowlights, I suppose).

This site writes that they were open to what Hammond and Belleci had to offer. But quickly they realised it was a very scripted show that was finding it very difficult to sell itself. Not only did it have to be entertaining, but it had to sell the idea that the two presenters were stuck by themselves on a desert island. Of course, they weren’t really, they had the full camera crew and production team with them, but while The Grand Tour is quite good at covering that truth up, The Great Escapists wasn’t as lucky.

The end their article with the following conclusion:

“SKIP IT. As cool as some of the machines Hammond and Belleci create (or are depicted creating), six episodes of their schtick on The Great Escapists feels like a lot. This would have made more sense as a 90-minute special, and we’re not even sure that would have worked, either.”

The Times

Commenting on how Hammond’s show is a mix of Bear Grylls’ The Island, Scrapheap Challenge, and Lost, the review starts on a low point. “If it were sincere, it would be insane, but joyfully it is anything but,” the writer begins. They explain that the whole ‘survival’ idea is forgotten when the duo start pulling everything they could ever want from the wreck they came in on.

They also explain the first episode as “dreary lapse into Top Gear-style alpha-male drag racing”, but circle back at the end of the review:

“Honestly, it’s delightful,” it ends.


The headline says it all… “Richard Hammond’s castaway series is excruciatingly cringey,” it reads above a rating of one star. The review begins with a basic synopsis of the show, but quickly falls to complaints as it describes the show as “painfully scripted”.

“While Hammond and Belleci play themselves, the show is painfully scripted (“I’ll give you a war you’ll never forget!”), with every decision, thought and plot point painfully relayed to two actors playing cops in a bare police interview room. It truly is a marvel of exposition.”

They describe the relationship between Tory and Richard as “strained” and the banter between them falling flat.

“Worst of all, the entire show just felt fake. Whether we’re supposed to believe that two blokes off the telly built a palatial island getaway (complete with a water wheel, a lighthouse, an automatic fishing machine, two vehicles and a brewery) all on their own is unclear, but it’s certainly frustrating to watch them make use of materials they would never, ever find in a shipwreck. At one point, Belleci wears a welding helmet, for goodness’ sake.”

It’s fair to say, they didn’t like it.

“The Great Escapists is a true dud”, it ends.

What did you think? Do you agree, or did you enjoy the expansion of of the Clarkson, Hammond and May world?

Alex Harrington

Alex started racing at a young age so certainly knows his way around a car and a track. He can just about put a sentence together too, which helps. He has a great interest in the latest models, but would throw all of his money at a rusty old French classic and a 300ZX. Contact: [email protected]

Related Articles


  1. My kids and I have now watched this entire series three times— it’s ridiculous, hilarious, full of fun schtick, campy cheese dialogue and bad acting (yes, it’d be better with James May- my kids provided the Clarkson commentary)-but it was GOOD FUN!!!. Any thoughts of “serious” need to be left behind, and then you can enjoy it! Got my kids more interested in science, so kudos to Richard Hammond and…Clarkson. Also that other guy, who admittedly had the best line,”would it help us escape, or would more bad things happens to Richard Hammond?” (To which my kids responded, “Either one is good!”)

  2. I disagree!!!! I liked it. Light hearted, no seriousness and It was funny as hell. Just what we needed at this dismal time in life.

  3. Richard Hammond has always been my least favourite of the three, tbh, and after one episode of this painfully scripted “unscripted” mess, the only positive thing I can say is, I love being proved right.
    I can only hope this really is aimed at children. Certainly the “storyline” and big, silly set pieces would suggest it.
    This could’ve been an interesting show if they actually showed in-depth how the set pieces were created, but they spend less time on that than the A-Team did, and just replace it with excruciatingly cringe “comedy”.
    Literally the only good thing here is the tropical island scenery.

    I’ll stick with James May, thanks. I mean, even his cooking show was watchable. I won’t be back for more of Hammond’s nonsense.

  4. Wow, this review is ridiculous. Do you think that it is supposed to be a factual documentary? It is quite clearly a comedy. Take it with a pinch of salt.

  5. Come on ,its funny . Part of the joke is they have everything they need.😂😂 Quite a bit of science to be had too. I bit of relief after all thats going on.

  6. I think you are wrong if you are looking at it like it’s trying to be realistic. The best comparison for The Great Escapists is Gilligan’s Island.

  7. I mean lets be honest, if you wanted a truly academic show this one isn’t for you. Its not meant to be entirely academic; also its a show about them being shipwrecked of course its going to be fake and scripted. People shouldn’t hate no the fact that its scripted. If you can’t appreciate this genre of tv shows that doesn’t mean to deprive them and say “worst of all, the entire show just felt fake.”

  8. I liked it. It felt like those Skits they used to do in Bill Nye the science guy shows. Not real but still fun. With just enough info to educate you.

  9. I really enjoyed it and it is a great show. Of course it is scripted! This is not bad, as most of these things are scripted. And in these times we are in, having such a nice show with some remote island and a lot of palm trees with Hammond in it – well that is so great! Looking forward to the next project of him. Keep on doing this stuff, please!

  10. For a start: why do they reveal all the at least slightly interesting and possibly enthralling moments in the trailer of each episode? This way I can pretty much turn off after 1 minute because I’ve already seen the few highlights. And what is this American interviewee stuff all about? Just show the two on that island and how they make clowns of themselves and let them get on with it. In the last show their rescue could have been shown.
    This way the show is utterly uninspiring, boring, highly unrealistic (where did they retrieve the many hundreds of planks for their ‘villa’? How did their battery powered saw live through all those cuts?). There was so much potential in the whole story and they wasted about 98% of it and turned it into silly slapstick. What a shame.

  11. It’s a bit of silly, ‘escapist’ fun. Any opinion beyond that is entirely the fault of the viewer, who just needs to stop taking everything so damn seriously.

  12. Yeah – sorry to say, much as I wanted to like this (especially with the idea of the two of them hosting), definitely over scripted and flat. Was expecting junkyard wars meets Gilligan’s island – but the payoffs just aren’t worth getting there.

  13. As a middle aged guy who has loved TG and GT, i thought this was a more than acceptable way to spend my time. I enjoyed trying to guess the various film references, the Clarkson running gag was fun, and the sciencey bits were interesting. I won’t say 5*, but a solid 4*

  14. while each is entertaining in their own right… the synergy from the three is what works. trying to split up the trio is pretty much a recipe for failure. i am sure they don’t want to think this, but the reality is solo shows have not generated a strong fan base

  15. My boy’s loved the show with all it’s silliness and unbelievable antics. As the adult watching this with them, I did chuckle at how bad Hammond and Tories acting was. But I forgive it all for a program that we can all watch together getting children into science and making things.

  16. Cmon give the guys a break. Of course it is scripted and (loosely speaking) acted and it had a film & production crew support. So? It’s meant, as far as I can see, to:
    – totally lack seriousness
    – be childish
    – indulge the presenters
    – poke fun at survival TV like Bear Grylls, Castaway, Alone, Naked & Afraid,

    Mission Accomplished. It does all that. Has some fun moments, ridiculously implausible invention scenarios, totally stupid crises and a tin pot incompetent police interrogation cover story to deliver the narrative that ties it together.

    Personally, I immediately wanted to build a pineapple canon, a beach “tank” and a driftwood gyrocopter.

    The reviewers need to lighten up and smell the pineapple mush. It’s supposed to be inane and your supposed to realise that.

  17. They made it very obvious from the first information about the show that it would be fiction and scripted, its meant to be entertaining. So anyone who took it seriously, expecting it to be a Bear Grills or Les Stroud type of show are morons. Take it at face value, embrace the camping, and laugh at the chaos and silliness, that’s the best way to enjoy the show. I know I certainly did.

  18. I am a big tg & gt fan but I switched this off after 5 minutes, absolute garbage. Richard Hammond comes across as someone who is self obsessed by his own “celebrity”. The idea is basically sound but from the off became the ” look at me I’m Richard Hammond” show.

  19. i loved it and so did my kid. just a show to laugh and not need to use your brain. a nice family show. seems like a lot of people dont even know what that is any more. for hammond and torry. carry one. brilliant show.

Back to top button