The Grand Tour is a motoring show on Amazon Prime featuring ex-Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. The show's executive producer, Andy Wilman, also moved from Top Gear to work on the new show, alongside many other members of the cast and crew including directors Richard Porter, Brian Klein and Phil Churchward.
The Grand Tour was officially announced on the 30th of July, 2015, after months of speculation, by the online streaming service Amazon Prime. An official trailer for the series was released fifteen months later, on the 7th of October 2016.
It was revealed that the trio had signed on for thirty-six episodes over three series of the show, although thirty-eight would eventually air during this contract, including two double-part specials. The first episode of the show premiered on the 18th of November, 2016. The show's second series premiered on the 8th of December, 2017. The show's third series aired on the 18th January 2019. On the 15th of December, 2018, the show was officially renewed for a fourth series.
As part of the show's renewal, it was revealed that the show would no longer film any studio segments, bringing an end to the studio-centric style of show that Clarkson, Hammond, and May had been working on together for seventeen years. The show's fourth season, the first to be produced under this new arrangement, is expected to begin airing in 2019.
The show officially began filming its first series on the 7th of October, 2015 when Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond published pictures from their first shoot in Portugal. The first set of studio segments for the show were filmed in July, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The show has since filmed in the US, the Netherlands, England, Finland, Germany, Scotland, and the United Arab Emirates.
Amazon announced that they had signed Clarkson, Hammond, and May for 36 episodes of a new show on the 30th of July, 2015. The show was left untitled for many months with promotional videos being released focussing on the presenters' struggle to come up with a name. However, on the 12th of May, 2016, the name was finally revealed to be 'The Grand Tour', reflecting the worldwide nature of the show. More details about the show were also revealed, most notably that the show's format would closely mimic that of Top Gear, featuring studio segments that were to be recorded in a tent that changes locations in almost every episode.
In filming for series 2, Richard Hammond was involved in two separate accidents. The first occurred in Mozambique, where Hammond was knocked unconscious after falling off a motorcycle. The second more serious incident occurred in Switzerland while filming the series 2 premiere. Hammond crashed a Rimac Concept car while competing in a hill-climb event. The car subsequently caught fire and was completely destroyed. Hammond, meanwhile, was hospitalised with a fractured knee. The accident, coupled with Clarkson's pneumonia diagnosis, delayed the second series premiere from October to December.
In filming for series 4, the crew were forced to evacuate in Vietnam after monsoonal rains flooded the boats of the production crew.
**For a list of episodes, see here**
The first series of The Grand Tour aired from 18th November 2016 to the 3rd February 2017. The first series featured thirteen episodes, which saw the presenters journeying to Namibia in Beach Buggies for the show's first special, to Portugal for a test of the 'holy trinity' of hypercars, heading across Morocco in three roadsters, attempting to build an artificial reef using old cars in Barbados, and more.
The second series of The Grand Tour aired from the 8th December 2017 to the 16th February 2018. The second series featured eleven episodes, which saw saw the presenters testing three supercars in Switzerland, journeying across Mozambique to feed the poor, racing three old Jaguars in Colorado, building an amphibious car, and more.
The third series of The Grand Tour aired from the 18th of January, 2019 to the 12th of April 2019. The third series featured fourteen episodes, which saw the presenters heading to Scotland in three old Italian Cars, visiting Colombia in used 4x4s, driving three Muscle Cars in Detroit, building and driving a car across Mongolia, and more.
In this segment, usually around 10 to 20 minutes into the show and lasting 5 to 10 minutes, the presenters discuss motoring news, motoring topics, and recent events. The segment is always introduced by Richard Hammond and is accompanied by a 10 second title which features black silhouettes of the presenters against a white background. The title screen varies from episode-to-episode; for example, the title screens have, in the past, featured Clarkson in high-heels, Hammond with a bird on his arm, and the presenters with sombreros.
For Each Series a new Celebrity Segment would be introduced however, they proved not to last long. For Series 1 Celebrity Brain Crash was of the features in, For Series 2 Celebrity Face Off was it's replacement and For Series 3, there was no longer a Celebrity Segment.
Celebrity Brain Crash (Season 1)
In this segment, usually around 30 to 40 minutes into the show and lasting 1 to 5 minutes, the presenters introduce a celebrity who is to come into the tent for an interview. The celebrity always begins outside of the tent and are always 'killed' before they enter the tent. Guests on Celebrity Brain Crash have included Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Charlize Theron, and Armie Hammer. The segment always ends with James asking, "So, does that mean he/she/they isn't/aren't coming on then?"
Celebrity Face Off (Season 2)
In series 2, Celebrity Face Off was introduced. In the segment, two celebrities, who are "connected in some way", are interviewed by Clarkson before competing against each other in a timed lap around a circuit located near the studio tent. Participants use a Jaguar F-Type to complete their laps. Guests will include Dominic Cooper, David Hasselhoff, Hugh Bonneville, Kiefer Sutherland, Paris Hilton, and more.
The Grand Tour's test track, which is the venue for most car reviews and the track around which lap times are completed, is nicknamed the Eboladrome, for it's resemblance to the Ebola virus. The track is located in Wroughton, at an used British Royal Air Force base. The track is not used for the show's Celebrity Face Off segment.
The track features prominent landmarks, such as Old Lady's House, the Isn't Straight, Substation, Your Name Here Corner, and Field of Sheep.
After reviews have finished, The Grand Tour team put their cars around the Eboladrome, their official test track, to see which can achieve the fastest lap time. In series 1, each lap time was completed by The American, a fictionalisation of NASCAR drive Mike Skinner. In series 2, however, Skinner was replaced by British racing driver Abbie Eaton.
The following is a list of locations in which The Grand Tour has filmed for Series 1:
- Southern California, USA
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Nashville, USA
- Stuttgart, Germany
- Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Lapland, Finland
- Loch Ness, Scotland
- Whitby, England
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- The Cotswolds, United Kingdom
Following the conclusion of the third series, the shows will no longer feature a studio in any capacity, instead taking place entirely on filming location.
Format Change (Series 4 - Present)
From the fourth series onwards, the show's well established format was majorly overhauled. The format, of studio segments interlinking pre-produced films, had been a staple of The Grand Tour's first three series and of Clarkson, Hammond, and May's work on the first twenty two seasons of the revived Top Gear.
The major changes include...
For the duration of Clarkson, Hammond, and May's tenure on the revived Top Gear and The Grand Tour, a studio had been used as a way to link between various pre-produced films. From The Grand Tour's fourth season, this studio link was completely eliminated.
As a consequence of the abolition of the studio links, the trio's regular standalone segments were removed. This included power laps, around both Top Gear's original test track in Dunsfold and The Grand Tour's eboladrome, and the various celebrity-related segments, including Top Gear's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car and The Grand Tour's Celebrity Brain Crash and Celebrity Face Off.
The removal of both the studio links and the standalone segments were a consequence of the larger transition of the show away from smaller films contained within individual episodes towards larger-scale episode-long films, more commonly referred to as specials.