In Depth

Jeremy Clarkson to become a character in Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour Game

Get behind the wheel of the show’s most luxurious - and bizarre - vehicles later this year

The Grand Tour: Giant stone bust of Jeremy Clarkson spotted in Amsterdam

15 December

A giant stone bust of Jeremy Clarkson has been spotted in Amsterdam - a day before the fifth episode of the presenter's new motoring show The Grand Tour airs on Amazon Prime.

Twitter users photographed the sculptures of presenters Clarkson with his co-stars, Richard Hammond and James May, being carried on large flatbed trucks this morning, along with boxed body parts for the rest of the statues.

There have been sightings of the three heads across the globe, including in Sydney, Australia, and Washington state in the US. The busts were also scheduled to be placed next to the Space Needle in Seattle, but The Grand Tour's Twitter account said it "didn't quite work out" and that the statues were sent to a country where the show would air "very soon".

ITV News reports The Grand Tour is remaining tight-lipped over the Mount Rushmore-like statues, but it's expected to be "part of a publicity stunt".

Last week, the former Top Gear presenters were tasked with replacing the bodywork of three Land Rover Defenders using natural materials. While Hammond and May's efforts included straw and mud, Clarkson's involved animal bones and skin.

This week's episode will take place in Rotterdam and will air at midnight UK time on Friday 16 December. 

The Grand Tour: Clarkson builds a car from animal parts

9 December

Episode four of Jeremy Clarkson's new Amazon Prime show The Grand Tour aired today and sees the former Top Gear host creating a car of his own – out of animal parts. 

Together with James May and Richard Hammond, Clarkson is tasked with replacing the metal bodywork of three Land Rover Discoverys with material he describes as "the best solution to the future of the planet".

His co-presenters' efforts involve mud, flowers and straw. Clarkson, however, uses animal bones and skin, with pigs' ears for wing mirrors and a cow's digestive system for a windscreen. 

"Jeremy's bone car was genuinely disgusting," says the Daily Telegraph, adding that the stunt could anger animal rights protestors. 

If so, it would not be the latest controversy to hit the Amazon show - last week, Clarkson was in the spotlight for creating a "self-driving car" pedalled by a Romanian immigrant. 

The fourth episode sees The Grand Tour still in Whitby, because, the presenter says, there is "literally nowhere else to go" after Hammond and May blew up his house.

There are also test-drives of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS and BMW M4 GTS, which are later put through their paces on the "Eboladrome" test track.

The dynamic between the presenters makes it "clear to see why the viewers enjoyed it so much", says the Daily Express, although the episode was "certainly one of the strangest". 

In an interview with Radio Times this week, May said he and Clarkson would "fairly soon" be too old to host The Grand Tour, although Hammond would be able to continue as he is a "reasonably fit bloke who looks after himself".

The prospect did not seem to upset him, though. Saying he didn't "feel trapped" by the show, May also told the mag he would eventually like to see "some other people do it".

The Grand Tour: Jeremy Clarkson in the spotlight after migrant jibe

2 December

Episode three of Jeremy Clarkson's new motoring show The Grand Tour was released today - and the presenter is once again in the spotlight after a jibe about Romanian immigrant.

"It wouldn't be the Grand Tour without a controversial comment or two", says the Daily Express

The paper is referring to a "self-driving car" the former Top Gear host says he's made. However, it's revealed the vehicle is being pedaled by a man.

"This is not just a man, this is a Romanian man", says Clarkson. "I am providing employment for newcomers to our country".

He also ridicules environmentalists by saying "you can't burn coal anymore because Al Gore goes nuts and a polar bear falls over".

This is not the first time The Grand Tour has been caught up in controversy. The trio fought "terrorists" in last week's episode and Clarkson offended the travelling community in the premiere. 

Episode three is the show's first appearance in England, with Clarkson and co-stars Richard Hammond and James May pitching their tent in the fishing port of Whitby, although the majority of the episode was shot across Italy.

Calling the show "The Grand Tour" may have been a way of clever way of "crowbarring the Top Gear initials" into its name, but the programme lived up to its title by taking luxurious cruisers on a "grand touring" adventure, says The Daily Telegraph.

The trio are seen taking driving three GT cars through the streets of Tuscany and powering around the iconic Mugello circuit.

Clarkson arrives in an Aston Martin DB11, with May opting for Rolls-Royce's Dawn convertible. However, The Sun[3] says, these are "overshadowed early on" by Hammond's Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

The new episode also sees the return of Celebrity Braincrash, with Hot Fuzz star Simon Pegg falling into Whitby harbour, although the Telegraph says the segment is starting to feel "dead-on-arrival".

Jeremy Clarkson 'fights terrorists' in Middle East

25 November

Part two of The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson's new motoring show for Amazon Prime, was released today - and the motoring journalist is once again courting controversy by looking for laughs in Jordan.

While set mostly in South Africa, the second episode also features a lengthy sequence filmed at a training facility for special forces troops in the Middle East.

In the film, Clarkson and his co-stars James May and Richard Hammond recreate a military exercise in which they must rescue "The Queen" from terrorists who have kidnapped her.

The presenter "risks Middle East rage", as the scenario is an excuse for the trio's usual slapstick humour, says the Daily Express.

At one point, Clarkson finds himself stuck half in and half out of a window and calls to Hammond for help.

Pointing over his shoulder into the building from which he is trying to escape, he says: "The terrorists are in the room."

Hammond asks: "How do you know?"

Clarkson responds: "They're doing things to me. Ooh, ooh. It's very uncomfortable."

"That's probably because you're so tense," Hammond replies.

In another sequence, Hammond takes on a "terrorist" on the wing of an abandoned jumbo jet.

"It's possible the bloodthirsty nature of the latest episode, not to mention the decision to poke fun at a mock terror attack in Jordan, could ruffle feathers," predicts the Daily Mail.

Clarkson has never been shy of controversy and was accused of racism while on the BBC's Top Gear after making remarks about Mexicans being lazy "oafs" and of using the racial slur "slope".

Indeed, a comment about gypsies not insuring their cars on the first episode of The Grand Tour – a new vehicle for Clarkson after he was fired by the BBC for punching a producer – provoked a complaint to Ofcom from the traveller community.

The Grand Tour: First episode breaks Amazon audience records

22 November

Jeremy Clarkson's new motoring show The Grand Tour has broken records to become the most-watched series premiere on Amazon Prime Video, the streaming service has said.

Although the company does not release specific audience numbers, it issued a press release saying "millions" had tuned in to watch the first instalment of the globe-trotting car show, which stars the former Top Gear presenter and his regular co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May.

Amazon Prime usually caters to binge-watchers by uploading a whole series at once, but The Grand Tour is being released in a more traditional TV format of one episode per week.

Episode one, which went online at a minute after midnight on Friday 18 November, surpassed the viewing figures reached by the previous record-holder, alternative history drama The Man in the High Castle.

In contrast, the BBC's reboot of Top Gear, fronted by Chris Evans – who will not return for a second series – and former Friends stat Matt LeBlanc, struggled to win over viewers, with just 1.9 million tuning in by the end of the series.

Membership of Amazon's streaming site also soared. "Total new Prime membership sign-ups [on Friday] exceeded all previous days with the exception of Amazon's Prime Day," entertainment website The Wrap says.

With each of the 36 planned episodes costing the site a reported £4.5m, it is clear Amazon is expecting big things from Clarkson and co.

Luckily, episode one received a generally warm reception from critics as well as from fans of the trio's previous TV incarnation.

The Grand Tour "blows Top Gear out of the water", said the Daily Telegraph's critic Ed Power, while the London Evening Standard's Ben Foster said Amazon's mammoth investment had produced "stunningly beautiful results".

Episode two, which was filmed in Johannesburg, will be available at one minute past midnight this Friday.

Grand Tour: How does Jeremy  Clarkson's new show compare to Top Gear?

18 November

The first episode of Jeremy Clarkson's new big-budget motoring series The Grand Tour has been given rave reviews – but how does it compare with the BBC's Top Gear?

The Grand Tour, which launched on the Amazon Prime streaming service overnight, sees the return of Clarkson, who was fired from Top Gear for his infamous "fracas" with a producer. He's joined by former co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond.

The series, which screeched onto screens in spectacular fashion, is said to have an eye-watering budget of around £4.5m for each of its 36 planned instalments. The Mad Max Fury Road-style opening sequence showed the hosts crossing the desert in Ford Mustangs, flanked by a convoy of cars, vans, bikes, a pirate ship and a squadron of fighter jets overhead.

It also featured a new racing track called the Eboladrome; a race between a Porsche 918, a McLaren P1 and a Ferrari LaFerrari; and a segment where celebrities, including Jeremy Renner, Armie Hammer and Carol Vorderman, met untimely ends.

Ben Travis at the Evening Standard, describes it as a "stunningly beautiful show" – basically "Top Gear with a nitros boost of Amazon finances", even if it "can't quite reconcile its attempts to be a general entertainment show and a must-watch for car nuts".

"Those who have never counted themselves as Jeremy Clarkson fans aren't exactly going to be won over," says Travis. "But episode one is a confident opener that leaves the BBC's attempted Top Gear revival in the dust."

Ed Power at the Daily Telegraph agrees, calling The Grand Tour "the Cecil B DeMille /Auto Trader crossover you hadn't realised you needed in your life". The critic says the show was always "going to arrive with a bang", but the real question was: could it recapture the chemistry that made Top Gear an international sensation?

While the rival franchises have a great deal in common, the new show "blows Top Gear out of the water", says Power. "Petrol heads can rejoice".

The Grand Tour is different to Top Gear in format, says Sam Wollaston in The Guardian. "There are loads of new ideas, or the BBC lawyers would have been on to them."

Yet it's all utterly familiar, because it's the personnel that matter, he says. The BBC will be left wondering how they'll compete, he adds. But "fans of old Top Gear are going to be happy".

Indeed, Amazon's Grand Tour is really just "Top Gear on steroids", says Allen St John at Forbes. All the things we loved about the show are here, with just enough tweaking to avoid intellectual property issues.

St John complains that the first episode spent too much time with the three presenters instead of the groundbreaking cars, but he expects that "after a few episodes they'll stop trying quite so hard and settle back into their old groove".

A new episode of The Grand Tour airs every Friday on Amazon

Clarkson's latest Falklands row: What really happened?

17 November

Jeremy Clarkson has claimed an Argentinian airport worker stopped him from flying in revenge for his infamous 2014 Falklands number plate row.

The former Top Gear host says he and co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond were prevented from boarding a flight from Stuttgart to Heathrow by a member of check-in staff.

This was supposedly in retaliation for a incident two years ago when the Top Gear team fled Argentina after being pelted with stones by an angry crowd. Clarkson had been driving a Porsche with the number plate H982 FKL - which he denied was a reference to the 1982 Falklands war.

Clarkson told The Sun that the trio, who had been filming for their new show, The Grand Tour, were stopped at the departure lounge after getting the call to board their flight. When he protested to "this bald little guy", the man allegedly replied: "I'm from Argentina so f*** you."

"The police said it was a hate crime and he would be arrested," said Clarkson. "Yes, even the Germans were 100 per cent on our side - for once."

But a German police spokesman told the Daily Telegraph they were not aware of any "hate crime" allegations. "I don't know what was said during the argument," said Christian Woerner of Reutlingen police, "but I doubt the Falklands were mentioned."

Woerner explained that the flight gate was already closed when the Grand Tour crew arrived, and an argument had arisen when they were refused permission to board.

A spokesman for Stuttgart airport told BBC News that Clarkson and his team had missed several calls for their flight and the other passengers had already boarded. He said the "personal behaviour" of the airport worker as described in The Sun did not "conform to our approach on customer service", adding that the employee mentioned is Spanish, not Argentinian.

The row came as Clarkson prepared to launch his new motoring show after departing the BBC last year.

The first series of The Grand Tour goes live at midnight tonight on the streaming service Amazon Prime. This means it can't be watched on terrestrial television and viewers will be required to sign up for a Prime account.

Clarkson has been trying to manage expectations around the show, telling the Radio Times that it's less of a "Marvel-type Avengers Assemble thing" and more like "Last of the Summer Wine".

"I know the trailer looks amazing," he says. "But they're not going to put in the boring bits. It's still us three; it has to have that cosiness; it has to have that sitting-room intimacy."

He adds that one of the biggest differences between Amazon and the BBC is that "when we finish a film on The Grand Tour we send it to Amazon, and they ring us up and squeak, 'It's brilliant, we love it! We can't wait! It's so good!'… You never got that from the BBC."

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