GREAT news: although Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have announced they won’t be making any more studio-based car shows, more Grand Tour episodes will be on the way following the upcoming third season.
Amazon has confirmed a “fourth season” has been commissioned, but although the presenter line-up remains the same, the format will comprise purely “big adventure road trips” that don’t require studio filming in front of an audience.
Clarkson said the change was because there’s only so many times you can watch a BMW going around a track, but perhaps the Grand Tour’s tent developed a leak or two.
— The Grand Tour (@thegrandtour) December 13, 2018
Whatever the reason, the end of the car show format that we have come to know and love since Top Gear was reinvented by Clarkson in 2002 may be heightening the winter blues for many a loyal fan.
But dry your eyes… a rummage through the Clarkson, Hammond and May broadcasting back catalogue suggests we shouldn’t be worried about the dropping of the studio audience element.
Jeremy Clarkson’s Peel P50 “review”
Clarkson’s reviews rarely (if ever) get bogged down in useful consumer advice, and nowhere is that perhaps more apparent than his Peel P50 test. To this day, we’re not sure what’s more impressive: that Jeremy was given the all-clear to drive the world’s smallest production car through BBC Television Centre, or that the 6ft 5in presenter managed to actually fit inside the Peel.
Jeremy Clarkson’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage “review”
In stark contrast to his Peel P50 video, Clarkson’s review of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage from 2009 ranks as one of the most poignant pieces to ever feature on Top Gear. We now know his prediction that “cars like this will soon be consigned in the history books” was somewhat premature, but the segment itself was a stand-out moment as melancholy as it was beautifully made.
Top Gear takes over drive time radio
With extensive experience in presenting roles (and Richard Hammond working as a local radio DJ before becoming a motoring journalist), how hard could it be to host a drive time radio show? As it turns out, very, with Hammond’s “£5 a pop” jingles and Clarkson’s traffic reports setting the tone for a very unconventional radio broadcast.
Bugatti Veyron race to London
Car versus public transport challenges used to be a Top Gear staple, and perhaps the most acclaimed was the Bugatti Veyron vs Cessna light aeroplane race across Europe. As well as showcasing the supercar mere months after its debut at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, the head-to-head was also one of the most eventful in Top Gear history, with numerous twists and turns as the trio raced to London from the Italian town of Alba.
Top Gear US Special
Of the myriad special edition Top Gear episodes, perhaps the most influential was the US Special from 2007. As well as establishing the template to which most future Top Gear specials would adhere, the US Special also brought us some of the show’s most iconic scenes – including the infamous reactions to the provocative slogans the presenters painted onto each other’s cars.
Top Gear Polar Special
It would be easy to cram this list with as many Top Gear Specials as possible, though we’ll limit ourselves to the US episode and this: the Polar Special that saw Clarkson, Hammond and May race through the frigid Arctic Circle. Like the US Special, the challenge has some of the programme’s most memorable moments, and there’s the added bonus of Clarkson and May becoming the first people to ever drive to the North Pole.
Audi vs Lancia rally rivalry
Though primarily mass entertainment shows, Top Gear and The Grand Tour have demonstrated over the years that they can also do content aimed at proper car enthusiasts. Perhaps the best example of this is The Grand Tour’s segment on the Audi and Lancia duel in the 1983 World Rally Championship, which we rate as one of the Amazon Prime show’s best moments to date.
Setting the water speed record
Following in the wake (no pun intended) of their amphibious car exploits on Top Gear, the trio went for something even more ambitious in the most recent Grand Tour series, by setting a national water speed record in a modified Bond Bug. Despite the questionable choice of donor car, the team managed to achieve their goal, by sending their “Pond Bug” hurtling into the record books at an average speed of 47.81mph.
Until the launch of Amazon Prime Video’s The Gymkhana Files show, the platform’s best car stunt showcase was Clarkson’s “Farmkhana” segment from the second series of The Grand Tour. Considering how it all panned out, we doubt Jeremy will be getting an invite to join Ken Block’s Hoonigan outfit anytime soon.