Clarkson, Hammond and May have formed an unstoppable force, a force so powerful it nearly brought the BBC to its knees.
But the troublesome trio wasn’t always going to be a sure thing. There was a time when it could have just been a duo.
After Season 1 of Top Gear it was possible that Richard Hammond wasn’t going to have his contract renewed for Season 2. Andy Wilman, the show’s former executive producer, and now The Grand Tour’s executive producer, talked to Top Gear magazine on the subject.
“For a while, for some reason I cannot fathom, the BBC management had a wobble about Richard staying and, in their usual classic HR style, said to him in December: ‘We may not want you back for the second series, but, anyway, have a good Christmas’.”
Apparently the BBC was unhappy about introducing two new presenters after the leaving of Jason Dawe, one of the original presenters.
“There was no doubt that Richard would stay, it was about this time we had another visit from the BBC Meddling Department, who told us that market research showed our show was attracting young, lifestyle, trendy viewers to BBC Two, so perhaps we should think about getting a young, lifestyle, trendy presenter.
“Ever keen to assist, we searched high and low and eventually came up with just the man – James May.”
Wilman also explains how the BBC pointed out that half of their viewership were women, and before they could squeeze in the suggestion of getting a female presenter, they were quickly hurried out.
This may be the reason for the oversaturatation of presenters on the new Top Gear before they were whittled down to just the three, LeBlanc, Reed, and Harris – to attend to each of their market segments. But I’m glad the BBC trusted Wilman to carry on with the our favourite trio.
Could you imagine The Grand Tour without Hammond? I certainly couldn’t, but if you had to, who would you replace him with? Let me know in the comments!