The Version Interview... Jeremy Clarkson on Amazon Prime's The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour is Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's new 12-part series, which launches on 18 November 2016, only on Amazon Prime Video. 
Jeremy, Richard and James have committed to three series of The Grand Tour as partof a landmark global TV deal and for the last year, they have been travelling the worldwith the Grand Tour team, filming the series in locations across the globe.Each show will feature studio recordings in front of a live audience, as the team pitchtheir giant travelling tent in a different location each week, as part of their Grand Tourof the world.

Jeremy Clarkson tells us more... 

How would you describe The Grand Tour?

It’s three badly dressed, middle aged, decrepit men, who can’t do anything, attempting to do extraordinary things in amazing places around the world. I’ve just thought of that. We are entirely unsuited to spending time with each other, because we are all very different, but equally useless. James could just about play a harpsichord, but at no point is that ever a useful attribute in this. I can’t do anything at all… no wait, I can drift a car while shouting. But again, if the world ever ends,nobody’s ever going to say, “Is there anybody here who can drift a car while shouting?” So that’s pretty much useless, and Hammond, no he can’t do anything either. So, apart from harpsichord playing, we’re useless. We’re just ordinary guyswho take cars to places that people say, ‘You can’t drive there.’ That’s what we do. And we’re no good at it.

Who comes up with the ideas and where do they come from?

I don’t want to brag, but it’s mostly me and mostly from in-flight magazines. You getan awful lot from in-flight magazines, because it’s unique journalism. It’s the driest journalism in the world, in-flight magazines. Sometimes they will show you something amazing and tell you about something in such a flat way that you think, ‘Wow! Lookat that. I saw an article the other day set in Malaysia. I thought, ‘We’ve got to go there.’ There’s another one in Mozambique I really want to go and do as well.

What’s new in The Grand Tour?

There are new ideas within the programme; it’s hosted in a tent rather than a studio;our driver that sets lap times around the track that we have in the UK actually speaks,and he’s very opinionated; and it’s shot in 4K, so it looks more spectacular…

Why did you decide to set The Grand Tour in a tent?

The great thing about the tent is, it’s the same studio every week, packed up, shipped,all 300 tonnes of it, all the equipment to the next location. But it’s got these hugepicture windows behind us, so week one is the Californian desert, then it’s the Africanplain, with Johannesburg in the distance. Then it’s Whitby, then it’s Rotterdam, thenit’s Finland, then Scotland. The view changes, so it makes the show feel different, andthe audience changes. So you’ve got a load of bloody Yorkshire men up in Whitbygoing, ‘Come on you fat bastard, make us laugh.’ And then you’ve got whoopingAmericans in California and then you’ve got very tall Dutch people. A lot of it is a travelprogramme, much more so than a car programme. You really do get a sense of placefrom every episode.

You’ve worked with Richard Hammond and James May for a long time now. Has thisnew show breathed new life into the formula?

No question. I don’t think Top Gear had become stale but one or two commentatorswere saying, is it time you changed the format? That noise would have become acacophony relatively quickly and it would have plateaued and it would have died.What this does is, it just moved it into a different gear. It’s the same but different. Theweird thing is, I loathe James and Richard, I hate them on a cellular level, but when wework together we do work together really very well. We have a similar interest indrink, smoking, being dishevelled. We get along because I spend a lot more time ofthe year with them than I do with my children.

Why did you want to work with Amazon?

Well first of all no advertising. Second of all I genuinely feel that all television will gothat way soon, and then it will go even further. Why make programmes for 2 o’clockin the afternoon? It just seems daft. If you’re in at 2:00pm in the afternoon, you canwatch what you missed on Thursday night. So I think the model’s good. And finallythey promised, and have stuck to it, that they absolutely won’t interfere editorially.

You’ve made so many amazing films in amazing locations. Do you ever still havemoments where you look around and think, wow?

All the time. In this series, Jordan was one of them. Coming fast roping out of a BlackHawk helicopter… it turns out you can fast rope out of a helicopter. Who knew? Butas I was dangling underneath, I thought, how did I arrive here? We did a lovely filmacross Italy, starting at Siena at the Palio, and then we went to Florence to the Uffiziand to Verona to the opera and to some of the museums in Bologna and then toVenice with an Aston Martin and a Rolls Royce… that was a lovely film, apart from thefact Richard Hammond turned up with his bovine attitude toward culture.

Did you come under any pressure to change your look or smarten up for the newseries?

We were going to do it as a joke: we were going to get fully bouffant-ed up and getsome plum coloured jackets and some teeth whitener… but we decided not to.Amazon have said to us, ‘We bought your show because we wanted you to do thatshow, so you do that show and we’ll put it on our service.’ Again there’s been nocorporate push, there’s no advertising push, there’s no sponsorship push, there’s noeditorial push. They let us get on with it and then bounce around squeaking wheneverwe send them a film.


The Grand Tour is available to customers of Amazon Prime Video.