Clarkson Says The Grand Tour is the Anti-Top Gear Due to Legal Restrictions

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Not long to go now. The Grand Tour arrives on Amazon Prime Video on November 18th, and as such, Jeremy Clarkson’s gums have started flapping.

He’s revealed how behind-the-scenes legal goings-on helped shape the programme, which has to be as different to Top Gear as a car show fronted by Top Gear’s most famous former presenters can be.

“The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, the Cool Wall, the Stig – all that had been left behind … and replaced with other stuff,” he wrote in the Sunday Times Magazine. “Would that be like the Rolling Stones suddenly appearing on stage in tweed suits and doing Abba songs?”

Legal restrictions were also behind the decision to film studio segments in a giant tent in different locations around the world. South Africa was chosen as the first location because, in Clarkson’s words, “Crack a gag at a Friday night event in London and you get a chuckle ... But crack it in South Africa and they laugh for about a year.”

According to Clarkson, there was even concern that using test track could land The Grand Tour in hot water, but everybody involved eventually concluded that it was an essential part of any car show.

Executive producer Andy Wilman has also spoken about the legal issues surrounding The Grand Tour, telling the Telegraph, “We went to Namibia to make a big film. The lawyers got out a film we had done [for Top Gear] in Botswana. The lawyers go through everything and they said, ‘There's a scene in [Top Gear] where you're in the middle of the Okavango and you go, “This scenery is beautiful,” so watch that you don't do that.’ So we were in the desert in Namibia and we had to go, ‘For legal reasons, this scenery is sh*t.’”

In another piece in the Sunday Times, Wilman also said that they toyed with the idea of changing the presenters’ personalities and banter, but scrapped that “because nobody would want to watch James pretending he likes tyre smoke, Richard suddenly being serious and worldly and Jeremy driving slowly and listening to other people's opinions.” [Sunday Times via Independent]