Here's What The Grand Tour London Launch Event Was Like

By James O Malley on at

Regular readers will know about my on-going, complex relationship with The Grand Tour. After pretty consistently slagging it off during the first season, amusingly Amazon is using a quote from one of my negative reviews to promote the show in a banner on top of the main Amazon site. Those clever bastards.

So I was as surprised as anyone last week when Amazon invited me to last night's launch event in London. Would it really be a launch event? What if I get there and it is just Jeremy Clarkson down a dark alleyway, with a baseball bat? Still, in pursuit of journalism - and because I thought it might be funny - I headed on down to the purported venue: A former industrial building known as the Printworks, near Canada Water station.

I must admit I was a little nervous. The internet suggests that... yes, the Printworks really is just an abandoned printing works. (I think they used to print the Metro there). It'd be the perfect place for Clarkson to murder me, and it is right next to a former Port of London quay, so dumping my body would be easy too.

Needless to say it was something of a relief when I got there to discover that mercifully, like the rest of London, though the Printworks looks old an knackered still, it has also been reinvented as a trendy venue for events, where young people might go to listen to loud music at the time of night when I'm usually in bed. So I headed inside. Into the Lion's Den.

As a show of defiance, I wore my "FREEDOM OF THE PRESS" t-shirt, which you can see in the image at the top. Yeah, take that Bezos! Just, umm, please don't get your revenge by delaying my Christmas deliveries.

As I took my seat, I got pretty paranoid. A PR person spotted my "media" wristband and asked for my name. "Oh, you're the one of who doesn't like the show!", she said. I laughed nervously as several other PR people within range exchanged looks of recognition. She then showed me to my seat: Rather than sit us in normal theatre-style seating, Amazon had prepared seats shaped like cars for the assembled journalists. For some reason, Amazon put me in car number one, right at the front.

Throughout the whole event, the paranoia continued. Why was I down the front? Why had they let me in at all? Was there a sniper trained on me? Would I be able to outrun the Bezos/Clarkson hit squad? Was this whole - clearly very expensive - event some sort of Beadle's About style-ruse designed to ultimately humiliate me for writing negative reviews? No, surely not, the rational part of my brain thought - Amazon might be one of the biggest companies in the world, and Bezos might have billions of dollars, but making it all about me is the sort of petty and vindictive thing that I would do if I had that sort of money - and other people aren't like me.

After a torrent of dad rock (playlist available on Amazon Music for you to listen to while reading Clarkson's Sunday Times column), the show finally began. You can read my full review here. And after there was a big, loud party that I'm far too old to enjoy.

The event itself was pretty interesting though: Not just seeing the amount of money Amazon pours into something like this, but also because around the hall there were props from the first series on display.

Here's a quick tour:

The Grand Tour Museum

Here's some three wheeler featuring the name of the show's production company.

Here's an amusing sign from one of the episodes shot in Whitby.

I've got no idea which episode these costumes were in.

Cheer up mate, this season might be better.

I've got literally no memory of this prop being in the show, showing how little has sunk into my long term memory.

This is... something to do with James May?

Here's some Christmas jumpers from last year's Christmas special. If you notice they spell out the word "PENIS". Truly we are living in a golden age of television.

And here's the desert buggies from the Namibia special at the end of the last season.

And... that's it. In a sense, the museum underscored what I keep banging on about what I don't like: the artifice. A show that purports to be reality probably shouldn't be boasting about its props department. Ah well - maybe season 2 will be better?

Thanks for not having me whacked, Clarkson.

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