The End of the Grand Tour (As We Know It)



Jeremy Clarkson (right) Richard Hammond (left) and James May (center) during the Mongolia special dubbed "The Survival of the Fattest" of The Grand Tour

Jake Dailey, Website Editor

Since 2002, millions have tuned in to watch the beloved presenters, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, (and James May, joining in 2003), on the shows Top Gear and The Grand Tour. The trio were extremely popular with their motoring show, with informational parts on reviewing cars and fun specials where they were challenged to push vehicles to the limit and do preposterous things for laughs. The show also features many celebrity guests, seeing who was the fastest around the show’s track. Appearances ranged from Simon Cowell of American Idol, Jimmy Carr, a popular comedian, and Jay Kay, of the jazz-funk band Jamiroquai, as well as many more.

Top Gear aired for 22 series, being one of the BBC’s most popular programs, but was thrown into limbo in 2015 following the firing of original host Jeremy Clarkson over a physical altercation with one of the show’s producers. The fallout of this resulted in Clarkson’s co-presenters also dropping out along with the executive producer of the show, Andy Willman. While the show still continued with a new lineup, the chemistry of the new hosts and entertainment paled in comparison to the rock solid performance of the trio.

Shortly after this, the group signed a contract with Amazon to produce another motoring show, known as The Grand Tour. The show was in the vein of Top Gear but had a slightly different spin on the concept. The studio audience aspect was preserved with them now hosting from a tent traveling the world, but other things were lost such as their star racing driver from before, known as “The Stig,” who did not leave with the group. They, instead, brought on a driver, simply known on the show as “The American,” a redneck stereotype and NASCAR driver to test the performance and race the cars on their placement board. The show also seemed to return with the celebrity guests racing their cars, but in a fun bit of humor, had them all die as they approached the tent where the show was hosted. Some of the stars who “appeared” on this segment were actors Jeremy Renner, Arnie Hammer, Charlize Theron, as well as pop star Nena, and director Tim Burton.

James May (left) Jeremy Clarkson (center) and Richard Hammond (right) during the season 2 finale of The Grand Tour

Moving onto the second season, the formula was altered slightly, with “The American” being replaced by British racing driver Abbie Eaton, the tent being set between the presenter’s homes in the United Kingdom, due to injuries and illnesses suffered by Clarkson and Hammond, and celebrities actually being brought on, in a segment known as “Celebrity Face-Off” in which two different celebrities in the same vein of profession raced a Jaguar F-Type on their track. Stars who were featured on this bit included Kiefer Sutherland of 24 fame and David Hasselhoff of Night Rider and Baywatch, as well as many other British stars.

In the third season, all remained the same for format, but the shows final episodes seemed to hint at something, as revealed in the final episode of the season. The show would no longer have its studio format or celebrity guests, and it would be losing the tracks. Clarkson, choking back tears, told the viewers that the show would be exclusively specials now, with some citation of the presenter’s health and ability to keep working as a reason to avoid the studio shows. This came as a surprise to many and was upsetting to those who still wanted to watch the show from the studio audience.

Nevertheless, wherever the The Grand Tour goes, it is a smash hit which will continue to be a star on Amazon’s Prime Video service.