The Grand Tour: Six Key Variations From The ‘Top Gear’ Format

In the opening moments of Amazon Instant Video’s The Grand Tour – the new car show starring former Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May – there’s a clear acknowledgement of the notorious ‘fracas’ that saw Jeremy Clarkson parting ways with the BBC. Turns out he wasn’t officially fired, unlike May and Hammond, who’ve lost several jobs at radio stations and publications over the years. But those two both chose to leave Top Gear in March 2015 alongside Clarkson – and now we’re finally seeing the result of that decision. As the first episode of The Grand Tour hits Amazon, here’s what’s new.

OUT: BBC Budgets
IN: That sweet Amazon dollar

The new series begins with Clarkson leaving rainy London and jetting off to LA, where he gets in a Galpin Fisker Ford Mustang Rocket, joins up with his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May, enters a Mad Max-style flotilla of cars and drives to their own festival, ‘Burning Van’, where Hothouse Flowers is playing, and they receive an 8-jet flyover. It’s mad, and probably very expensive.


OUT: The Stig
IN: The American

No more Stig. Amazon apparently asked the trio to get an American from Nascar to be their new driving dude, and the new guy’s name is ‘The American’. (He says stuff like “Where I come from this ain’t a car, it’s a cry for help”.) He’s actually called Mike Skinner, and he hates communism.

OUT: The Top Gear circuit
IN: The ‘Eboladrome’

Top Gear‘s new car-testing circuit is called The Eboladrome, because it’s shaped like the Ebola virus. That means it’s a pretty tricky course to do quickly.


OUT: BBC guidelines
IN: Jokes about pleasuring horses.

“It’s very unlikely I’m going to be fired now because we’re on the Internet,” says Clarkson in the show’s opening minutes, “which means I could pleasure a horse. Dog?”

OUT: the Top Gear studio
IN: a continent-hopping tent

No more static studio and samey British crowd. This episode sees the Top Gear tent land in the Californian desert, the next will take us to Johannesburg. (We also see the trio race around in the Algarve region of Portugal in this episode.)

OUT: Celebrity guests
IN: Celebrity ‘corpses’?

In one of the weirder aspects of the show, loads of celebrities get ‘killed off’ in this episode. There’s no star in the reasonably priced car here: The Avengers’ Jeremy Renner skydives into the studio, then supposedly crashes into the ground. The Social Network’s Armie Hammer walks through the Californian desert to reach the trio, then gets bitten by a ‘snake’. Audience member Carol Vorderman also ‘dies’. Will this be recurring joke?