After waiting months for Amazon’s new automobile-based show presented by ex-Top Gear Hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, I found myself almost shaking in anticipation as I sat down with my family to watch the first episode of The Grand Tour. There was so much going through my mind as the show was about to begin:
“Will the opening scene that cost a massive £2.5 million be worth it?”
“Will it be a recreation of the old Top Gear?”
“If so, then how does it justify the whopping £4.5 million Amazon spends per episode?”
And most of all, “I really hope it’s good.”
To put it succinctly, it was BLOODY BRILLIANT! All the aspects that I loved about the old Top Gear were there in spades, from the inane and humorous banter between the hosts, to the awesome cars showcased. The show exemplifies everything I wanted from the show as a petrolhead, middle-aged men in great cars acting like a bunch of boys and fooling around in great cars. The promised hypercar (though I hate that word) comparo, the P1 v 918 v LaFerrari was stunning in both presentation and result.
I can honestly say that the budget was well spent as the photography was absolutely stunning, the opening sequence enthralling and funny, and the show format, while not completely original (parodies of their Top Gear sequences in the form ‘The American’ and the celebrity bit) was still engaging. This was due to the on-screen camaraderie shared by the three, which looked even better as they gave the impression that they had finally been given a free-rein unlike the ‘oppressive’ BBC regime. Clarkson even joked saying that as they were now on the internet, it is unlikely that he would get fired.
The new test track, hilariously called the Eboladrome (because of its shape), is placed just outside the city of Swindon (we know this thanks to Jalopnik) and features some of the funniest named corners and sections in automobile history. As Clarkson does explain in the episode, the Eboladrome track actually tests cars quite well. Similar to the earlier Top Gear track (the one without the autocross bit) where the long right-hand corner ‘Chicago’ showcases a car’s inherent need to understeer or oversteer, the ‘Isn’t Straight’ on the Eboladrome does the same. In the same vein, ‘Hammerhead’ = ‘Your Name Here’. In essence, a lot of thought has gone into the track. Like the rest of the show, even the Eboladrome outdoes the Top Gear track in terms of testing a car thanks to a rougher patch of road on it to gauge ride quality.
Naturally, there were some who were offended by parts of the episode, from making fun of the Americans, killing off celebrities, and the name of the track. In fact the Eboladrome did cause a bit of a Twitter storm with people saying it was in poor taste. The deadly virus has claimed over 30,000 lives since 2014. You can be sure that the Eboladrome name would never have aired on the constantly (and sometimes irritatingly) politically correct BBC, but on Amazon, the hosts have the freedom to shoot their mouths off as much as they want. Ofcom (the regulator of broadcast content in the UK) said it that they have power to regulate Amazon’s output in the UK, even on the internet and it would investigate if it received a significant number of complaints.
At the end of the day, if Clarkson didn’t create some sort of major reaction, the show would not have enthused audiences as much as it did. It’s his signature, love him or hate him, it makes for brilliant and funny entertainment. I know I am looking forward to the next episode, more so than any previous Top Gear episode. Episode 2 of The Grand Tour will air on 25 November, and has been shot in South Africa. I don’t usually say or do this, but SQUEEEEE!