The Grand Tour (TV series)

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The Grand Tour
An image of the programme's logo, consisting of the letters GT inside of which is the text Amazon Original surmounting the words The Grand Tour. The letters GT are in the form of five horizontal red bars. Amazon Original is also red, and all uppercase letters. "The Grand Tour" is in black, title case lettering.
Genre
Created by
Written by
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Richard Hammond
  • James May
  • Richard Porter
Directed by
  • Phil Churchward
  • Brian Klein
  • Kit Lynch-Robinson
  • Gavin Whitehead
Presented by
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Richard Hammond
  • James May
Starring Mike Skinner as "The American" (series 1)
Composer(s) Paul Leonard-Morgan
Country of origin United Kingdom[1][2]
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 14
Production
Executive producer(s) Andy Wilman[3]
Producer(s)
  • Chris Hale
  • Greg Vince
  • Richard Evans
  • Ronan Browne
Cinematography Ben Joiner
Editor(s)
  • James Hart
  • Dan James
  • Chris Denton
  • Joe Orr
Camera setup Multi-camera setup[4]
Running time 44–71 minutes[5]
Production company(s)
Distributor Amazon.com
Release
Original network
Picture format 4K (Ultra HD) 23.976fps HDR[4][5]
Original release 18 November 2016 – present
External links
Website www.amazon.co.uk/thegrandtour

The Grand Tour is a British[1][2] motoring television series for Amazon Video presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and produced by Andy Wilman.[3]

The four agreed to produce the series following their departures from the BBC series Top Gear with an initial agreement of 36 episodes over three years.[6][7] Episodes are scheduled to be released weekly to those with Amazon Prime accounts in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Austria[8] and Japan, beginning November 2016.[9][10][11]

Tent segments for series 1 were filmed between 17 July and 11 December 2016.[12][13] Series 1 premiered on 18 November 2016. In the days following the launch it became Amazon Video's most watched premiere episode.[14] As of December 2016 the show was made available to an additional 195 countries and various territories.[15] Repeats of series 1 began airing on traditional broadcasters in late 2017.[16]

A teaser trailer for series 2 was released on 11 July 2017, featuring a Mercedes AMG GT R, Ripsaw EV-2, McLaren 720S, Bugatti Chiron, Audi TT RS, Rimac Concept One, a Grumman American AA-5 light aircraft and an armoured personnel carrier visiting the Dubai Mall.[17] A second trailer, released on 1 November 2017, featured a Lamborghini Aventador S, Honda NSX, Ariel Nomad and Kia Stinger GT. Series 2 filmed its studio segments on Wednesdays between 25 October and 19 December 2017.[18] The second series premiered on 8 December 2017.[19][20]

Format

The intended format was initially for individual television films, using location shooting without studio segments, but after the title reveal it was announced that there will be studio segments shot in large tents at various locations.[21][22] Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos described the deal as being "very, very, very expensive".[23] W. Chump & Sons is the production company for the programme, and Amazon.com is distributing the show.

Studio recording for series 1 began in Johannesburg, South Africa on 17 July 2016.[24] Recording in the United States took place on 25 September 2016 in Southern California, with further recording taking place in Nashville on 21 November 2016.[25][26] Studio recording in the United Kingdom took place in Whitby on 13 October 2016,[27] with further recordings taking place at Loch Ness in December 2016. Further studio recording took place in Rotterdam on 22 October 2016 and Lapland on 3 November 2016.[28][29][30] Stuttgart (Ludwigsburg) was also a filming location.[31] The final studio filming took place in Dubai in December 2016.[32]

For series 2, due to Clarkson's Pneumonia and Hammond's car crash, it was decided that there would no longer be a travelling tent.[33][34] Instead the tent would be left in one location near Clarkson's home in the Cotswolds as this would be more convenient for the crew to operate. It also would be useful for new features such as Celebrity Face Off.[35]

Features

Test track

"Eboladrome" test track at RAF Wroughton

The show has a dedicated test track called the "Eboladrome", at the former RAF Wroughton. Clarkson states in the first episode that the name is due to its shape resembling the structure of the Ebola virus.

It is designed to "trip cars up", according to Clarkson. Section names include the "Isn't Straight", "Your Name Here", "Old Lady's House", "Substation" and "Field of Sheep". In the first episode, the track was said to have been modified following the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb.

Cars were tested by former NASCAR driver Mike Skinner, known as "The American", who considered anything not American, front-engine and V8 powered as "communist". According to the presenters, Amazon insisted the driver be an American, which was why Skinner was hired.[36] While doing a lap, Skinner often made sarcastic remarks about the car and the presenters. In November 2017, it was announced that Skinner would not return for the second series.[37]

Prior to the first episode the Lap board had been pre-populated with ten times from a selection of cars, and the laps themselves were not shown, just the timings. The first car to be shown being driven by Skinner, with an on-screen lap time, was a 2016 BMW M2 recording a time of 1:26.2 seconds. The track is also used for general filming and testing by The Grand Tour, meaning that other vehicles – such as a Ferrari 488 used in episode one – may appear on the track, but are not timed either.

Lap board
Car Time Condition Episode
Aston Martin Vulcan 1:15.5 2
McLaren 650S 1:17.9 not shown
Audi R8 V10 Plus 1:19.2 not shown
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 1:20.4 not shown
Nissan GT-R 1:21.2 not shown
Porsche 911 C2S 1:21.4 not shown
BMW M4 GTS 1:22.4 4
Porsche 718 Boxster S 1:23.4 not shown
BMW M5 1:24.2 not shown
BMW M3 1:24.3 not shown
Honda NSX 1:26.0 Wet 9
BMW M2 1:26.2 1
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 1:27.1 Wet 10
Honda Civic Type R 1:28.2 not shown
Ford Focus RS 1:28.4 6
Lexus GS-F 1:29.6 Damp 12
Ford Mustang GT 1:29.6 6
Ford Fiesta ST200 1:32.8 not shown
Fiat Abarth 124 Spider 1:33.7 Wet 11

Celebrity Face Off

Following complaints regarding the celebrity brain crash segment in the first series it was decided to replace this with a segment called "Celebrity Face Off". Two celebrities come on each week from the same background and different countries to see which one of the two is faster. The car used for this segment being a Jaguar F-Type hard-top.

Lap board
Celebrity Time Condition Episode
Ricky Wilson 1:20.1 S2E1
David Hasselhoff 1:24.1 S2E1
Kevin Pietersen N/A S2E2
Brian Wilson N/A S2E2
Hugh Bonneville N/A S2E3
Casey Anderson N/A S2E3

Conversation Street

The trio discuss car news. Running jokes include Hammond "oversharing" intimate personal information, and Clarkson being cut off after asking "Can I talk about...?" before either Hammond or May introduce the next segment; frequently, the subject he attempts to raise is Alfa Romeo and their new cars. The video introduction to the segment shows the men, in silhouette talking animatedly: in each episode the silhouettes change in various ways.

Running gags

The series includes several running gags. During the opening titles of each episode, a camera drone is destroyed. From episode three on, one of the presenters' names is always seen misspelled during the opening. In "Celebrity Brain Crash", celebrity guests are humorously "killed" in an accident while making their way to the tent. After each "death", May asks "Does that mean they're not coming on then?" to which Hammond deadpans "No James, they're not" while bluntly outlining how "dead" the celebrity is. This element of the show reflects the BBC's efforts to stop The Grand Tour from interviewing celebrity guests,[38] as had been the focus of the Top Gear "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment. It was announced on 16 November 2017 that "Celebrity Brain Crash" would not be returning and will be replaced for series 2.[39] The segment will be replaced by "Celebrity Face Off" in which celebrities will compete for the best lap times around a new track in a Jaguar F-Type.[40]

Episodes

Series one (2016–17)

No. Title Tent location Cars tested Special guests Original air date
1 "The Holy Trinity" Lucerne Valley, California, United States[25] McLaren P1, Porsche 918, LaFerrari, BMW M2 Hothouse Flowers, Chris Goodwin, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Armie Hammer, Jeremy Renner, Carol Vorderman 18 November 2016 (2016-11-18)[n 2]
Clarkson, Hammond and May launch their new programme with a film showing Clarkson leaving the BBC Headquarters (a reference to him leaving "Top Gear"), and leaving London to fly to Los Angeles where he meets Hammond and May. As the Hothouse Flowers play "I Can See Clearly Now" the trio drive Ford Mustangs[n 1] through the California desert to Rabbit Dry Lake, accompanied by a range of cars and a fly-over by the Breitling Jet Team. Following a sequence where they greet the audience and viewers, and introduce the tent, the first feature shows the three presenters testing three hybrid hypercars; with Clarkson in the McLaren P1, Hammond in the Porsche 918 and May in the Ferrari LaFerrari at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal. Later, Clarkson introduces the show's new test track, the "Eboladrome" with laps by a Ferrari 488 and then tests a BMW M2. Jeremy Renner, Armie Hammer and Carol Vorderman are all humorously "killed" before being able to take part in the show. Returning to Portugal, Jérôme d'Ambrosio performs timed laps in the hypercars. The episode ends with Hammond and May declaring that they will demolish Clarkson's house as forfeit for losing a bet: that the McLaren P1 would be fastest in a timed lap and beat the Porsche 918 and LaFerrari.
2 "Operation Desert Stumble" Johannesburg, South Africa[24][44] Aston Martin Vulcan, Audi S8 Plus Johan Ackermann 25 November 2016 (2016-11-25)[n 4]
The tent is at the Cradle of Humankind nature reserve overlooking Johannesburg. The presenters discuss President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, the Nkandla compound firepool controversy and carjacking. Clarkson tests the Aston Martin Vulcan at the Eboladrome. Producer Andy Wilman sends the presenters to the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre (KASOTC) outside Amman, Jordan for a SAS-style military training exercise. Car-builder Johan Ackermann shows his self-built replica of a Sauber Mercedes C9. May visits Soweto to take part in South African motorsport of "Spinning" where cars generate smoke by performing doughnuts set to rap music until the tyres blowout. A person introduced as actress Charlize Theron[n 3] is pounced on by a lion and "killed". Finally the presenters return to KASOTC in Jordan to review an Audi S8 Plus while rescuing a VIP and transporting them to the "British Embassy".
3 "Opera, Arts and Donuts" Whitby, England, United Kingdom[27][44] Rolls-Royce Dawn, Aston Martin DB11, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Simon Pegg 2 December 2016 (2016-12-02)
The tent is on the quayside of Whitby harbour in North Yorkshire. The presenters go "Grand Touring" in Italy with May in the Rolls-Royce Dawn, Clarkson in the Aston Martin DB11 and Hammond in the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Clarkson and May's tour starts at the Palio di Siena horse race, before viewing The Birth of Venus painting at Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Clarkson and Hammond race each other the Mugello Circuit. In the tent the presenters discuss Whitby jet. Returning to Italy, Hammond visits the Lamborghini Museum whilst Clarkson and May watch Carmen staged at the Verona Arena, in the Piazza Bra. The tour continues via the Piazza dei Signori, Vicenza and ends up in the Venetian Lagoon. Simon Pegg "falls to his death" from Whitby Swing Bridge. Clarkson presents his take on automated vehicles. Fulfilling their bet from episode one, Hammond and May destroy Clarkson's house at Diddly Squat Farm in Chadlington, Oxfordshire.[n 5][45]
4 "Enviro-mental" Whitby, England, United Kingdom[27][44] Porsche 911 GT3 RS, BMW M4 GTS Jimmy Carr 9 December 2016 (2016-12-09)
Clarkson reviews the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and compares it to the BMW M4 GTS at the Eboladrome; despite criticising the M4 GTS for sacrificing creature comforts for no overall gain in performance, he declares it the winner simply because Hammond owns a GT3 RS. The presenters travel to South Wales and set out to make the most environmentally friendly car bodies using the platform of a Land Rover Discovery. They take an 11 mile road trip to a dirt track, where they race against three normal cars. The idea of environmentally friendly car bodies is abandoned after Clarkson's meat car is infested with maggots, Hammond's garden car catches fire, and May's mud and hay car falls apart. Jimmy Carr is the guest of "Celebrity Brain Crash", but his jet ski collides with a boat on his way to the tent. To fill in the time, the presenters introduce an Audi TT Mk1 Quattro with Hammond hidden behind the rear bumper to show a new smuggling technique used by illegal immigrants, as well as using Hammond as an improvised parking sensor.
5 "Moroccan Roll" Rotterdam, Netherlands[28] Mazda MX-5, Zenos E10S, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Golden Earring 16 December 2016 (2016-12-16)
The tent is at the Port of Rotterdam. To settle an argument over the best affordable roadster, the presenters go to Marrakech, Morocco with Hammond in a Mazda MX-5, May in a Zenos E10S and Clarkson in an Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. During the road trip Clarkson suddenly pulls over due to a leg cramp while driving the 4C. Later, he challenges Hammond and May to weigh their cars to prove that the 4C is lighter, using an improvised scale and animal carcasses as counterweight. The scale breaks just as Hammond is about to remove the MX-5 from it, and the crew are ordered to leave the premises due to their use of animal carcasses. Clarkson and the film crew leave Hammond and May to focus on the 4C. The presenters stop at Atlas Corporation Studios in Ouarzazate to perform timed laps with their cars. Hammond wins, despite crashing into an Egyptian statue prop. Also in the episode, Hammond and May play an explosive game of Battleships using old cars as the "ships" and several G-Wizes as "missiles". Dutch band Golden Earring perform live outside the tent, but are electrocuted on stage. To fill in the time, Clarkson uses a V-8 engine to inflate a blow-up doll.
6 "Happy Finnish Christmas" Saariselkä, Lapland, Finland[30][46] Ford Mustang GT, Ford Focus RS Bob Geldof 23 December 2016 (2016-12-23)
The tent is at the forests of Saariselkä. At the Port of London, Hammond welcomes the new right-hand-drive Ford Mustang GT and gives it a tour of London and Stonehenge before Clarkson arrives and proceeds to argue that Mustang has no place in Britain and that the Ford Focus RS is a better option. This escalates to a chase between both cars up to Cheddar Gorge. The Mustang beats the Focus in a drag race, but is slower around the Eboladrome. In "Conversation Street", Clarkson and May debate over which confectionery creates more mess in a car – a Flake or a Double Decker. A person introduced as a drunk Kimi Räikkönen[n 3] arrives outside the tent for "Celebrity Brain Crash", but collapses from drinking too much vodka and is left to die in the arctic temperatures. To fill in the time, the presenters introduce their "Santaland Grotto", where they talk about their Christmas gift ideas, mostly consisting of everyday items emblazoned with car-manufacturer logos. May introduces Bob Geldof via tablet on a Double telerobot. He then talks about the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans rivalry between Ford and Ferrari, which gave birth to the Ford GT40 and the Ferrari P3.
7 "The Beach (Buggy) Boys – Part 1" Namibia (no audience)[46] None None 30 December 2016 (2016-12-30)
The presenters are set a challenge by their producer, Andy Wilman, who wishes to show that beach buggies are poor vehicles. Their challenge is to drive one thousand miles (1,600 km) along Namibia's Skeleton Coast in three beach buggies, each built to their personal specifications but all derived from the Volkswagen Beetle. After 36 hours of going nowhere, the presenters camp by the shipwreck of Eduard Bohlen before venturing to the Namib Desert. The trio climb and descend several dunes and travel through harsh terrain before finally reaching a road. Clarkson's buggy breaks down and is abandoned by Hammond and May, who arrive in Windhoek to have a beer while Clarkson struggles with overheating problems on his way to town.
8 "The Beach (Buggy) Boys – Part 2" Namibia (no tent)[46] None None 31 December 2016 (2016-12-31)
Clarkson finally arrives in Windhoek to meet up with Hammond and May and prepare for the second leg of their journey to the Namibia-Angola border. The rough road takes its toll on Clarkson and May's buggies until May suggests they continue off-road, which ends up being worse terrain and they end up in softer sand before returning to the road. After the trio sets camp, May attempts to sabotage Clarkson's buggy when he accidentally sets fire to the front end of his own car. With a third of a mile away from the border, the presenters create a cable car line to cross through a crocodile infested river. Clarkson and May cross successfully, but Hammond is stuck within 200 metres from the goal. Because of this, Clarkson concludes that their failure has proven Wilman right.
9 "Berks to the Future" Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart, Germany[31][47][48] Honda NSX Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian[49] 6 January 2017 (2017-01-06)
The tent is within the courtyard of Ludwigsburg Palace near Stuttgart, where Clarkson praises Germany as the "cradle of the automobile." May reviews the new Honda NSX at the Eboladrome. Clarkson fuses the body of a 1978 MGB Roadster with the chassis of a Land Rover Discovery to make a "proper" sport utility vehicle, but when the MG body falls off, he replaces it with a 1980s Mercedes-Benz SL and christens it "The Excellent". He then gives Hammond and May a ride in it to the Cobham Training Centre of Chelsea Football Club before having it displayed at the Coys of Kensington car auction, where it fetches £4,000 (it cost £14,000 to make). A human figure introduced as German singer Nena[n 3] is carried away from the courtyard by 99 red balloons. The presenters develop alternative means to recharge mobile phone batteries. May then demonstrates how much power a gym generates to recharge a G-Wiz. Hammond tries his hand on post-apocalyptic "Bug Out" vans, made out of a Volkswagen Transporter T25; Ford Transit Mk.3 and an Alvis Stalwart but it is not long before Clarkson and May destroy his creations using a rocket-propelled grenade, Scimitar and Challenger 2 tanks, and a 4.5 inch Mark 8 naval gun on HMS Richmond.
10 "Dumb Fight at the O.K. Coral" Nashville, Tennessee, United States[25] Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Brian Johnson 13 January 2017 (2017-01-13)
The tent is in Nashville facing the Cumberland River. Clarkson drives the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in Wales and at the Eboladrome. The presenters then travel to Barbados to solve the problem of dying coral reefs by dumping five car body shells into the ocean, but they lose four of the cars, a boat, and a raft due to their numerous mishaps. Eventually, they pull a Land Rover into the ocean before Clarkson ditches his partners to chase a trimaran. They reach the reef site and sink the Land Rover. Former AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson is tackled and trampled to death by American football players on his way to the tent before the presenters instigate a verbal clash with the audience over the meaning of the word "football".
11 "Italian Lessons" Loch Ness, Scotland, United Kingdom Fiat Abarth 124 Spider Chris Hoy 20 January 2017 (2017-01-20)
The tent is on the shore of Loch Ness. Hammond test drives the new Fiat Abarth 124 Spider at the Eboladrome. To prove that a second-hand Maserati priced under £8,000 is a better buy than a used Ford Focus, the presenters travel to Circuit de Croix-en-Ternois in France for a series of tests with Clarkson's Biturbo S Coupé, Hammond's 430 Saloon, and May's Zagato Spyder. Because May injured his right arm prior to the challenge, he bought an automatic variant. The presenters then embark on a road trip through Northern France before racing back to England via the Port of Le Havre, with the loser selling his Maserati. Clarkson's Biturbo dies, but he continues the race with it on a tow truck. He reaches the ferry port, but discovers that his Biturbo fell off the tow truck while chasing Hammond. May launches his Spyder toward a boat and crashes in spectacular fashion. The presenters conclude that buying a second-hand Maserati will result in a 66% chance of it working. For "Celebrity Brain Crash", Chris Hoy rows toward the tent, but his boat hits an underwater mine. To fill in the time, Clarkson uses a Bulgarian man to demonstrate a new hands-free system for any car and a Thai woman as an inexpensive massaging back seat.
12 "[censored] to [censored]" Loch Ness, Scotland, United Kingdom Lexus GS-F, Bentley Bentayga, Range Rover, Jaguar F-Pace Tim Burton 27 January 2017 (2017-01-27)
The tent remains at the west end of Loch Ness because Hammond and May are convinced that the Loch Ness Monster is deep in the water. Clarkson test drives the Lexus GS-F at the Eboladrome, driving past many animal-like figures. The presenters travel to Wank, Germany, where May in a Bentley Bentayga, Clarkson in a Range Rover, and Hammond in a Jaguar F-Pace plan a road trip on the Romantic Road via Kissing, Bavaria, then Petting, Bavaria, to Fucking, Austria. After passing Landsberg Prison and staying overnight in Fucking, Clarkson and Hammond suggest to May that they should skip Wedding (Berlin) and head for the Nürburgring instead. A mistake in the voice recognition of May's navigation system leads them to the Nuremberg Norisring, after which the trio find a quarry to perform timed laps in. Clarkson cheats by climbing a hill and crossing the water to beat Hammond and May's times by two minutes. Tim Burton crosses Loch Ness in a mini-submarine, which implodes before reaching the tent. During the final announcements a mysterious object is seen rising from the loch in the background.
13 "Past v Future" Dubai, United Arab Emirates[50] Volkswagen Golf GTI, BMW i3 Roger Daltrey, Wilko Johnson, Daniel Ricciardo, Steve Biagioni, Bartek Ostałowski, Conor Shanahan 3 February 2017 (2017-02-03)
The tent is in Dubai. Clarkson compares his Volkswagen Golf GTI to May's BMW i3 with a drag race at an airstrip and a road trip from London to Dartmoor to attend a Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson concert. Clarkson and Hammond make May hang out with "winchers" who drive their 4x4s deep into mud. For "Celebrity Brain Crash", F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo drives a hovercraft toward the tent, but crashes before being sucked into the hovercraft's fan. Hammond defeats the Bugatti Veyron in a drag race with the Porsche 918 Spyder, but quickly loses to a 1900 horsepower Nissan Patrol. Later, he travels to Michelin's proving grounds in France to learn how to drift. He must then prove his skills against two professional drifters – double amputee Bartek Ostałowski and 13-year-old Conor Shanahan – at Rockingham Motor Speedway. May ends the episode with a series of outtakes of Clarkson and Hammond attempting to drift cars.

Notes

  1. ^ Clarkson drove a blue Fisker-Galpin Rocket Mustang, Hammond a red Shelby GT350 Mustang, and May a white Roush Stage 3 Mustang.[41]
  2. ^ Advertised as being released at 00:01 UTC on 18 November 2016; Episode 1 became available 20 minutes earlier, before midnight, on the previous day (17 November 2016).[42][43]
  3. ^ a b c Neither credited, or identifiable.
  4. ^ Advertised as being released at 00:01 UTC on 25 November 2016; Episode 2 became available 60 minutes earlier, before midnight, on the previous day (24 November 2016)
  5. ^ This actually happened. The team demolished Clarkson's Oxfordshire home – which in fact, was anyway scheduled for demolition – and filmed it for The Grand Tour.

Series two (2017)

No. Title Cars tested Special guests Original air date
1 "Past, Present or Future"[51] Lamborghini Aventador S, Honda NSX, Rimac Concept One David Hasselhoff, Ricky Wilson 8 December 2017 (2017-12-08)
The tent is now in the Cotswolds and will remain there for the duration of the series. To determine whether the past, present or future of motoring is best, the presenters visit Switzerland with Clarkson in a petrol powered Lamborghini Aventador S representing the past, May in a hybrid powered Honda NSX representing the present and Hammond in an all electric Rimac Concept One representing the future. Hammond initially brings the trio to a health retreat and some museums close to a charging point for his car, but May and Clarkson reject this and go to a hill climbing race instead. As he cannot fit in his car while wearing a mandatory crash helmet, Clarkson cheats and sends a test driver in his place, who sets the fastest time of the three. Hammond crashes after completing the course, destroying the Rimac in a fire. Footage taken from YouTube shows the wreckage being extinguished and Hammond being airlifted to hospital. Celebrity Brain Crash is replaced by Celebrity Face Off, in which David Hasselhoff (representing the US) and singer Ricky Wilson (representing Yorkshire) compete for the best lap time around a new track in a Jaguar F-Type with Wilson setting the faster time.
2 "The Fall Guys"[52] Mercedes AMG GT R, Ford GT Kevin Pietersen, Brian Wilson 15 December 2017 (2017-12-15)

Production

The format of segments in the programme are a result of needing to ensure differentiation from the team's previous work on Top Gear for the BBC.[38][53] The show is presented from a pair of large tents on a Grand Tour around the world.[53] The presenters sit around a trestle table, with the studio audience seated in front of them.[53] The "Conversation Street" segment allows discussion of current events at the time of filming.[53] Lap times are shown on an electronic scoreboard.[53] A recurring test driver used for lap times is a named NASCAR character, portraying a stereotypical redneck accent and viewpoints, and prone to tangential speech.[53][54] Any celebrity guests booked for the "Celebrity Brain Crash" segment are shown being "killed off" before they can be interviewed by the presenters.[38]

Naming

The presenting line-up consists of Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson.

The show's title was announced as The Grand Tour on 11 May 2016.[55] The show's logo was unveiled by Clarkson on Twitter on 28 June 2016.[56]

There was speculation that the show could be called Gear Knobs after a trademark application was made for that name by an associated company,[57] but Clarkson stated in October 2015 that this would not be the title.[58][59] He explained in April 2016 that the word "Gear" could not be used for legal reasons.[60]

A short trailer was released on 8 April 2016 portraying Clarkson, Hammond and May brainstorming for a suitable name for the new series, before ending with the hashtag #TheStillVeryMuchUntitledClarksonHammondMayAmazonPrimeShowComingAutumn2016.[61]

Another short trailer was posted by Clarkson on Facebook, yet again portraying the trio attempting to conjure up a suitable name. But this time, they end up getting distracted and completely forgetting the task at hand. Shortly afterwards, the trailer was released on the Amazon Video UK YouTube channel.[62]

Filming

United Broadcast Facilities (UBF) in The Netherlands won the contract for the outside broadcasting tent segments.[4] Fourteen microphones are used for recording the audience reaction laugh track within the tent.[4] The mobile studio audio setup uses Lawo mixing desks connected via MADI for live sound mixing, recording and talkback intercoms.[4]

In July 2016 following the completion of filming for The Grand Tour an offshore powerboat racing powerboat C-237 belonging to Sunus Racing was stopped in the San Marco basin and impounded by police near to San Zaccaria, Venice, for only having insurance during filming itself, and not afterwards.[63][64]

Promotion

The Grand Tour parcel tape used for orders in November 2016

Following the public naming of the show, Amazon offered new customers a £20 discount for their first year on Amazon Prime during 14–16 May 2016.[65] A trailer announcing the release date of the show as 18 November 2016 was posted on the show's YouTube channel on 15 September 2016.[66] A second, full-length trailer, was released on 6 October 2016.[67] Trailers have used the music "Come with Me Now" by Kongos.[68]

As part of their marketing campaign, Amazon placed crashed Toyota Prius cars at Hackescher Markt in Berlin, in front of London King's Cross railway station, and on the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.[69]

Sponsorship

In mid-2016 DHL began sponsoring the transport costs of the tent and mobile studio.[70][71] In June 2016, in connection with the sponsorship deal, the presenters had uploaded videos of themselves attempting to assemble DHL-branded shipping boxes.[72] The first episode stated that "promotional consideration" had been given by the Breitling Jet Team, DHL and Samsung.[73] Eight of the Breitling Jet aircraft took part in the opening sequence flyovers.[74] For episode 2, the list included 5.11 Tactical.[75] A DHL Boeing 757 was featured in the opening sequence of episode 5, the tent was located in Rotterdam, and the DHL logo is featured on part of the crash barrier at the Eboladrome.

Reception

As of November 2016 the show has received positive reviews from critics,[76] with The Guardian saying "Jeremy Clarkson and co leave the BBC in their dust".[77]

Daily Express TV reporter, Neela Debnath commented that the first episode "resembled a Hollywood blockbuster" and added that "[The Grand Tour is] basically Top Gear on steroids".[78] However, BBC Arts Editor, Will Gompertz said of the opening that "there is no irony. It feels uncomfortably hubristic" but once the presenters were in the tent "Normal service has been resumed" and that "It seemed to me that Grand Tour is a TV show that wants to be – and quite possibly should be – a movie"[79] The Independent described The Grand Tour as "the best of Top Gear but with a greater budget"[80] TheWrap reported an estimate by Symphony Advanced Media that the opening weekend viewer count for The Grand Tour was three times the size of the opening weekend of The Man in the High Castle.[81]

Episode 2 was somewhat less favourably received by fans and critics. The Telegraph wrote about the Jordan segment: "[...] a tedious action movie segment suggested that they were in danger of losing the run of themselves slightly and that Amazon's hands-off policy towards the production had potential downsides."[82] Radio Times said that "many of the viewers were disgruntled to say the least, branding the show as dull and not funny."[83]

Richard Hammond was criticised by Stonewall, Peter Tatchell, and Olly Alexander, amongst others, for a comment he made in episode six where he implied that men who eat ice-cream are homosexual.[84][85] It was later revealed that the comment was an in-joke for the Finnish audience as a reference to a controversial TV commercial that aired in Finland.[86]

The Grand Tour received a nomination in the Original OTT Streamed category at the 2017 Television and Radio Industries Club Awards.[87]

Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant gave the show a positive review, stating "Fans can rest assured Top Gear hasn't gone anywhere, it's just hiding out at Amazon under a different name."[88] Sonia Saraiya of Variety was also positive of the show, stating "When it comes to the cars, The Grand Tour delivers gearhead porn in spades... Clarkson, Hammond, and May's love for machinery... is still present, pure, and appealing, even with the shift in networks and formats."[89]

Conversely, in April 2017 Brad Anderson of CarScoops stated that he prefers Top Gear to The Grand Tour. According to Anderson, Top Gear had "become even better", whereas the Grand Tour "seemed more scripted, less natural and at stages, forced... attention is often skewed away from the cars as the presenters, namely Clarkson, seemed to chase controversy and headlines". Anderson continues that in-studio segments became repetitive quickly, particularly "Celebrity Brain Crash", also noting that all three hosts seem to spend far too much time needling each other, and test driver Mike Skinner offers no worthwhile commentary.[90]

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, series 1 of The Grand Tour has a "fresh" rating of 86%, based on 7 reviews, with an average rating of 8.0/10.[91]

Digital Spy was positive of season 2, episode 1, calling it "An understated premiere for a show that feels like it's finding its feet."[92] The Times was also positive, giving the show 4 out of 5 stars, stating "Some parts of the show are flat but mostly it works, the production values remain high and it has clearly been hit with a juggernaut of money." [93] The Daily Telegraph, while not as positive, still approved of the episode, stating "The writing is still rather ropey. Clarkson’s suggestion of a new nickname for May - “Dingleberry Handpump” - failed to raise a titter even among the super-fans gathered for the London premiere" but also said that "for each wobble, there are just as many moments when The Grand Tour manages the clever trick Top Gear could pull off at its best: raising a chuckle while sneaking in a bit of serious journalism at the same time." and ultimately gave the episode 3 out of 5 stars.[94] Jeremy Clarkson himself believed that they "hit the ground running with season 2 of the Grand Tour".[95]

Broadcast

Australian free-to-air network Seven Network started broadcast of series one of The Grand Tour in mid-October 2017.[96]

French channel RMC Découverte started its broadcasting of the first series with the namibian episodes on 29 November 2017.

See also

References

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External links

  • Official website
  • The Grand Tour on IMDb
  • The Grand Tour's channel on YouTube
  • Geographic data related to The Grand Tour's "Eboladrome" test track at OpenStreetMap
  • Quotations related to The Grand Tour at Wikiquote
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