Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have just given us the biggest The Grand Tour reveal to date, teasing us with some seriously juicy gossip. Here’s everything you need to know about The Grand Tour, including when and how to watch it, spoilers on which cars and races will be featured and a ‘special’ New Year 2017 episode.
Thanks to a sizable portion of the latest Sunday Times magazine, plus tweets from the stars themselves and bits and bobs from audience members, we now have a much clearer picture of what The Grand Tour, Amazon Prime’s new motoring show and Top Gear rival, will entail.
In some ways we wish we could enjoy the new Amazon Prime motoring show without spoilers, but then you may be wondering what the fuss is about and someone has to fill you in, right?
So to those who love a surprise, now is the time to close your web browser and wait patiently. To those that can’t wait, read on for our spoiler-filled guide to The Grand Tour.
The Grand Tour guide: The first episode is for ‘petrolheads’
Originally the show’s executive producer Andy Wilman and the rest of the team discussed going with a first episode that appeals to a “broader” audience. But then they thought “sod that” and ended up going with something for petrolheads instead.
The Grand Tour guide: Do we get to see Clarkson being an idiot?
There is plenty of that, from what we can tell. In fact, Wilman has promised the second episode wants to get its “cocking-about crown” back, which he says will be good news “for those who missed our mental-age-of-nine offerings” – everyone, basically.
The Grand Tour guide: What were those DHL videos about?
Because DHL is a sponsor of The Grand Tour and because it deals with all the logistics of moving two tents that house the trio and live audience. A tent of epic proportions.
Being 70 feet long, 50 feet wide, 25 feet tall, 48 tonnes in weight and comprised 723 parts, towing it behind a Volvo just wasn’t an option. It takes a whopping eight days to erect (that’s what she said etc), in fact – or seven years if Clarkson was left to do it.
The Grand Tour guide: Will the ‘Holy Trinity’ finally do battle?
Remember Clarkson, Hammond and May really wanted to race the hypercar trio against each other on Top Gear but Ferrari got funny about it? It seems that is no longer an issue as the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder will be having a showdown at the Portimao circuit in Portugal.
Videos of the three cars against each other exist on the Internet already, including one featuring Top Gear‘s Chris Harris (filmed on the same day at the same circuit), but we are guessing a fair few of you want the Clarkson verdict. Our money is on the P1.
The Grand Tour guide: What cars can we expect?
Where do we start. The Aston Martin Vulcan and its 7.0-litre, 800bhp engine will make an appearance, as will the Abarth 124 Spider, Italy’s answer to the Mazda MX-5 on steroids. We will also get to see the new Honda NSX, which is more complicated than a space shuttle and nearly as fast.
Obviously the brilliant BMW M2 was going to make the cut, given that Clarkson said he loved it in a Sunday Time review, but Clarkson being Clarkson, you can expect a rather surprising conclusion. We would hazard a guess he proclaims it his favourite M car ever.
On the Italian front, expect the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 500hp and there is also a task for each presenter to buy a used Maserati and head into Europe. Potential drinking game idea: Do a shot each time one of the cars breaks down.
As for the shows where the presenters make a car, one challenge will see them build a VW Beetle dune buggy before reporting to a remote beach in Namibia. What could go wrong?
Then there is an episode where Clarkson and May undertake a grand tour of their own in the Aston Martin DB11 and Rolls-Royce Dawn that includes Siena, Florence, Belogna, Vicenza and Venice. And probably a whole lot more we have no idea about.
The Grand Tour guide: Any car showdowns?
We will also see the Ford Mustang V8 GT take on the Ford Focus RS, with Clarkson and Hammond making a case for each. We are going to go out on a limb and suggest the Mustang wins because it is £20,000 cheaper than a BMW M4 and 21,000 times more fun. And who can resist a V8 while they are still legal?
The Grand Tour guide: Is there a test track?
Yes and Clarkson is worried he may be sued by the BBC for legal reasons. But his argument is that you need to test cars in a show (sort of) about testing cars, which is why The Grand Tour will be using an ex-airstrip in Wroughton, Swindon – a bit of a drive from the original Dunsfold, Surrey track still used by the Beeb.
As for The Stig, he was too loyal to the Beeb so a racing driver was hired instead. One with a face and a voice, presumably.
The Grand Tour guide: What about a studio audience?
To avoid the fact Top Gear uses a static audience and that could get Amazon into legal trouble, The Grand Tour uses a big tent (two, in fact) that houses around 250 audience members, who get to watch Clarkson, Hammond and May do the ‘live’ part of their show.
It also gives them the opportunity to go wherever they like and so far that has included Namibia, France, Holland, Finland, Italy, Portugal, America, Jordan and, erm, Whitby for some fish and chips. Lapland is yet to be filmed at the time of writing.
The Grand Tour guide: Is Santa bringing a Christmas special?
Legally, no. And in terms of timing, that is also a no. But a ‘special’ episode (presumably the Lapland one) will be shown in January, which should help fill the void.
The Grand Tour guide: Just how ridiculous are we talking?
Expect as many explosions as a Michael Bay film. But with some talking in between. One film has been compared with a scene from Mad Max and features 2,000 extras, monster vehicles and acrobats. Apparently it cost “not far off” £2.5-million to shoot.
Another was filmed at a top secret training base in the desert of Jordan where the ex-Top Gear trio enter into a dangerous competition. One where the best of the best special-forces soldiers come together to fight it out to see who is the toughest… in the world. James May wins (just kidding).
Oh and let’s not forget one where Clarkson decides manufacturers have got the wrong idea about SUVs so he makes his own, which was actually caught on camera cruising around Cobham in Surrey. It’s like that Peel P45 episode all over again.
The Grand Tour guide: James May fell over a bit
Filming has not been entirely trouble-free. Captain Slow ended up heading towards the ground at breakneck speeds, resulting in a broken arm before filming the second episode. The accident happened as he was leaving a pub in a somewhat inebriated state.
On other shows there may have been sympathy from the crew, but this is a manly show about manly things so Wilman called him “a tit” and filming went ahead anyway.
The Grand Tour guide: Filming cost less than £4.5-million per episode
Just about every report about The Grand Tour claims the show cost Amazon £160-million, which would work out at £4.5-million per episode. Clarkson disputes this, claiming the actual figure is not that much more than the BBC splashed per Top Gear show.
The Grand Tour: In numbers
More than one billion miles were driven to film the first season. Meanwhile the number of pieces of electrical equipment needed to film the show is said to be 1,980 (one of which is a gigantic 4K server) and there is one fake parrot.
The Grand Tour: How do I watch?
“How to watch The Grand Tour?” we hear you cry. You can click that link to visit our guide, which includes what Amazon Prime includes, the cost and other useful stuff.
Can I watch The Grand Tour any other way?
Amazon Instant Video is slightly cheaper per month and will let you watch The Grand Tour, but then you miss out a fair few goodies. If you have a really tight budget and only care about seeing Clarkson’s face in 4K glory, go this route. If not, those extra pennies do provide significant added value.
The Grand Tour guide: What if I live outside of where Amazon Prime is supported?
No idea. In the long run, we would imagine good-old Dave will snap up the rights but you may have gone grey by then (if you weren’t already). In the short-term, Amazon is yet to announce anything on this subject but it has hinted that alternative solutions will be available for those who don’t want to ‘borrow’ it from the internet.
Is The Grand Tour available in 4K?
Very much so, meaning you now have a prime reason to buy one. Ultra high-definition televisions have become much cheaper in recent times, even though there is still not a great deal of content to watch on them. We are a big fan of the Samsung UE55KS7000 but cheaper alternatives are plentiful.
The Grand Tour guide: When is the release date?
The first episode goes live on Amazon Prime on the 18th of November, 2016. The remaining eleven episodes will go live every subsequent Friday. So no binge watching unless you are happy playing catch-up at the end of the season.
The Grand Tour guide: Will it be any good?
The Star In A Reasonably Priced Car and The Stig may be gone, but the cars, banter and explosions are very much present. Wilman admitted it was strange seeing the cast back in a new setting and after more than a decade of Top Gear with Clarkson at the helm, that can be expected.
A radical departure from Top Gear? Probably not, but then why change the formula too much if 350-million viewers worldwide were happy to tune in. Except to avoid being sued by your former employer, of course…