The Grand Tour opens with costly dig at Top Gear
Jeremy Clarkson’s new motoring show The Grand Tour debuted with a $3.1 million (£2.5 million) opening sequence mocking his departure from Top Gear.
The new show featuring Clarkson and fellow former Top Gear presenters Richard Hammond and James May debuted on the Amazon Prime web streaming service on Thursday (17Nov16).
In a reference to the trio’s’ controversial departure from the BBC TV show, which saw Hammond and May quit after their fellow presenter was axed for striking a member of the production staff, The Grand Tour opened with Clarkson looking dejected in the rain outside a corporate HQ.
He was then whisked to Los Angeles where he May and Hammond drove in Ford Mustang muscle cars and led a convoy of 150 vehicles to a festival style event in the middle of the Californian desert.
The show’s producer Andy Wilman told The Guardian that the opening sequence, which also featured Johnny Nash’s feel good anthem I Can See Clearly Now, was a statement of freedom.
“We just wanted to be free again. It’s a bit symbolic,” he said, although he insists The Grand Tour team bear no ill will towards the BBC, despite the acrimonious end of their relationship with executives at the broadcaster.
“It’s symbolic of the open road,” he added. “It’s a gentler symbolism than: ‘Yay, we’ve all left the BBC!’ Because we all love the BBC.”
The Grand Tour team can afford to be diplomatic with their former employers. Executives at internet giant Amazon are spending a reported $200 million (£160 million) on three series of the motoring show, an estimated $3.1 million (£2.5 million) of which is believed to have been blown on the opening sequence, for which the hosts were joined by Irish band The Hothouse Flowers and thousands of fans in the desert.
The show has been filmed in locations around the world, with the makeshift tent studio moving to a different location for each episode.
After the sequence in California, the majority of the opening episode took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, while Christmas and New Year specials have been filmed in Lapland and Namibia.
Unlike the revamped Top Gear, whose main presenter Chris Evans quit after its first series due to critical derision and falling viewing figures, The Grand Tour received rave notices from TV critics and viewers.
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