The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour: Best Insights from The Sunday Times Magazine Columns

The media machine for The Grand Tour has officially begun and it continues with the boys along with Andy Wilman and Richard Porter releasing columns in The Sunday Times Magazine.

There were a lot of emotions flowing through all the write-ups, but the beauty of it all was the little bits of insight each person gave in their pieces.

The Uncertainty

After Jeremy Clarkson punched his way out of the BBC, the questions from the public were obviously which media outlet would come up with the money to pick up the core of the number one show in the world. You would think that Wilman and the boys would be sitting back, patting themselves on the back as they wait for the Brinks trucks to back into their offices.

But, that was certainly not the case. The thing about great talent is that there is always a level of insecurity within them that keeps them going, which in effect, makes them better. After reading these columns, you could sense that insecurity and at the end of the day, it is what is going to make them that much greater.

Wilman and Clarkson definitely took the brunt of the pressure, which is their role, but if you read the words below, this was their defining moment.

Andy Wilman

“That would have been April 2015, when, as the dust settled over the debris of our stint at Top Gear, there was no plan, no strategy, no nothing. I remember the four of us sitting round the kitchen table at Jeremy’s place — which was a start, I suppose — blinking in the daylight outside the BBC womb, not really knowing what to do. For my own part — we are blokes, remember, so I wouldn’t have asked the others what they thought — I never had any doubt that we should carry on. The question was whether we could. I was confident that, in terms of delivering car-related entertaining nonsense, we still had much to offer, but my fear was that we wouldn’t just be picking up where we left off; we’d be starting all over again, which is much scarier.” – Andy Wilman


“I’m going to be honest with you: as the filming day dawned, we were all nervous. No show of this kind had ever been recorded in 4K. A Dutch company had built a multi-camera server and was fairly sure it’d work. But would it? In a field? In Africa?

And how would the audience react to all the new features? The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, the Cool Wall, the Stig — all that had been left behind at Dunsfold and replaced with other stuff. Would that be like the Rolling Stones suddenly appearing on stage in tweed suits and doing Abba songs because of some uninteresting intellectual property issues?

And then there were the films we’d made. The newspapers had got it into their heads that, because we had £400m an episode, we’d be reporting each week from a different planet. “Oh look, James has been crushed by the atmospheric pressure on Jupiter. Haha. And Hammond is on Mercury … on fire. Hahahahahaha.”

Would everyone be disappointed to find the films had all been shot on Earth? And that they were still full of three middle-aged men falling over? With the occasional car sticking its nose into the frame?

Our biggest worry, however, was the make-up girl. The job had plainly gone to the lowest bidder, who turned up with a bag full of Artex and some trowels. Hammond was first in the chair and after half an hour emerged looking like he’d just arrived from Easter Island. It simply wasn’t him any more.” – Jeremy Clarkson

The Adventure

Clarkson verified all the locations the crew has traveled in the past year and what a grand tour it sounded like. Imagine the stories that will never be told and the laughs that only a smirk from fellow crew members could ever understand.

A lot of people have said that this show is more than a show about cars. It’s a show about friendships and the relationships that not only these three hosts enjoy, but the relationships they have built with this crew is what dreams are truly made of.

Start off with Richard Hammond and his zest for life:


I love the great outdoors. It’s no good telling me I’m wrong, that life al fresco is hateful and uncomfortable and that I don’t like it, because I do. And now our entire enterprise is setting off on what amounts to a huge camping expedition, I could not be happier. Waking up in a tent, growing dimly aware of the gentle kiss of soft rain on canvas as the watery morning sun animates the tent’s skin with a living glow and the ground imposes its stubborn lumps and bumps on muscles still tired from the previous day’s walk — yes, that’s camping. There’s breakfast to be made, outside in the rain, and the tent to be folded up and stuffed into a rucksack to haul over the hills to the next night’s resting place. – Richard Hammond

Then here’s a taste from script editor, Richard Porter: richard-porter“Only in America Grand Tour test sites How do you make a splash to announce the arrival of a new car show? Well, one method is to take over a vast tract of Californian desert, assemble a massive flotilla of unusual machines, sprinkle in some crazy “art cars” from Nevada’s Burning Man festival and garnish it with a flame-spitting metal scorpion, a lorry that looks like a pirate ship, a gang of stilt-walkers and fire-breathers, a trio of hot Ford Mustangs, a crowd of many thousands, a live band and a squadron of jets flying overhead. Then stroll on stage as coolly as possible and say: “Hello, and welcome to the new show.

The Italian job In the 18th century a grand tour was something a chap undertook in order to enrich himself with Europe’s finest culture and cuisine. In line with the title of their new programme, Clarkson and May decide to undertake a modern version in two grand touring cars: the Aston Martin DB11 and the Rolls-Royce Dawn. Unfortunately their attempt at elegance and sophistication is soon undermined en route to Italy by a colleague with a more colonial take on the leisurely touring holiday.” – Richard Porter

The Dawn of a New Era

With only a few weeks to go until the show premieres on November 18th, the butterflies definitely must be starting to flutter in the stomachs of everyone involved with the show. The amount of hype that can build over 18 months is unimaginable and add to that, the expectations from loyal fans who are so used to a certain type of show, the expectations are going to be totally unrealistic.

It’s already a lot for fans to digest with the loss of the Hanger, the Stig, the track and the celebrity in the, er, forget that one. On top of this, fans are asked to forget traditional broadcast television and instead cut the cord with Amazon Instant Video when all they really know is Netflix.

This is how the guys ended their columns and it just makes my anticipation grow with every word!

But let’s not worry about that. If you’re a fan, when you see Jeremy, Richard and James back together, you will breathe a sigh of relief that nothing — be it the newness of the show, the marketing hype, the whatever — has got in the way of them being the Jeremy, Richard and James you know. From the bottom of my half-empty glass, I truly believe we will be giving you the comfort food you have been waiting for. – Andy Wilman

ow would the audience react to the new features — would we be like the Rolling Stones singing Abba? It’ll be strange. For 12 years, we got up on a Wednesday and drove to Surrey, where we were surrounded by familiar faces and familiar things. Now we will be somewhere different all the time. In front of a different audience, with different values and different tastes. – Jeremy Clarkson


So should you buy a 4K TV? That depends on whether you’re comfortable seeing Clarkson’s head in ultra HD. X-Ray: If you’ve used Amazon Prime, you may be familiar with X-Ray, which puts information, such as which films an actor has appeared in, on screen as you watch. We asked Amazon if X-Ray could be used to “muck about” and were told: “OK, if you must.” Look out for the results during each programme. – James May

Camping — backpacking specifically — is about setting out into the world carrying on your back everything you could need for the day’s events, right up to and including your bedroom, kitchen and wardrobe. And we are now setting off into the world in a similar state to make our show. We carry with us, albeit not on our backs, everything we will need: cameras, lights, microphones, mixing desks, monitors, speakers. In short, all the paraphernalia required to turn a patch of bare ground into a television studio. See you there. – Richard Hammond

As you can see, the nerves are there as well as the confidence.

h/t: The Sunday Times Magazine

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