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"This is The Grand Tour Unplugged": Clarkson, Hammond and May reveal all about The Grand Tour presents Lochdown
The Grand Tour presents Lochdown comes to Amazon Prime Video this week, so we caught up with Clarkson, Hammond and May...
It will take more than a global pandemic to stop Clarkson, Hammond and May from hitting the road.
“This is a double bill with a big gap in the middle for ice cream,” jokes May.
The Grand Tour presents Lochdown finds the chaps in an extremely wet Scotland, heading across the Highlands in classic 70s American cars.
Along the way they’ll discover exactly why these beautiful vehicles never became a hit in the UK, try out some deep fried delicacies and - of course - Richard Hammond has an accident.
We caught up with the trio to ask 7 burning questions about their latest adventure...
1. What is your highlight from the Scotland special?
James: There are lots of things I hope viewers will like. Jeremy’s caravan falling off in front of me, which on a personal level, I enjoyed immensely. Richard Hammond’s boat sinking. And the bridge building at the end, it’s difficult to watch it now and I was there at the time. When I watched the sequence in the edit, it was very tense - I think because I was scared. And if I am, then you should be.
Richard: I love the joy of the moment we all get together at the start. And then the moment Jeremy’s caravan comes off. With any other show that would be a problem. For us, we got the cameras out and loved it. And I think there was a warmth to this show.
Jeremy: Richard Hammond falling in the sea and going upside down again. We’d got all that way without Richard Hammond going upside down, so when he did I could hardly breathe from laughing. My knees collapsed. It was panicky laughter because I thought I might suffocate.
I could hardly breathe from laughing. My knees collapsed. It was panicky laughter because I thought I might suffocate.
- Jeremy Clarkson
He complained nobody helped him, but we couldn’t because we were too busy howling with laughter. That’s what separates our show. When someone has an accident, we burst out laughing.
2. What can you tell us about the accident Richard?
Richard: I was pulling a big platform with Jeremy on it, in a tiny fishing boat. Long story short, I gave it a little bit of throttle and it wobbled. Jeremy told me to go for it so I did and then it sank. And you see it happen in real time on camera. It was very much not expected. If it had been a stunt, it would have been two days work, stunt coordinators and it would never have been as good.
You also see, nobody jumps out to save me. There was no safety boat being kept off camera. Everybody just picked up their cameras and filmed me as I splashed back in big boots, jeans, an Aran sweater and a wax jacket - which it turns out isn’t the best swimming gear.
3. Were you at all worried about being stuck in the UK with the show?
Richard: We couldn’t do a big film in Russia or somewhere exotic and it took the pressure off us and it feels quite warm, welcoming and familiar. I think that’s what stands out about this special.
James: I’ve often campaigned to do more in the UK. We have a big audience all over the world and the UK is exotic if you live in America or Japan. The vital ingredient isn’t it being somewhere exotic. The vital ingredient is us mucking about. And we can do that as well in the UK as we can anywhere else.
We’re doing what we do, we rag on each other a lot. We can do it with Scotland as a backdrop or the Grand Canyon. It doesn’t really make that much difference.
Richard: You’ll never go to Scotland and go, ‘Oh I’m bored’. It always gives incredible scenery. And you never complain about going there - apart from the weather, which is bloody awful, but that’s not a surprise.
4. How did Covid impact the show?
Jeremy: Filming in Covid, it forced us to be on our A-game. The risk was so intense. We have 50 people on the crew and we had to bring our own catering crew and Covid-testing team. If one person failed the test, the whole thing would have been ruined and it would have been financially ruinous. It was a big team effort.
It’s the Grand Tour unplugged. We have no volcanoes or scenery to fall back on. It’s just rain. We have to provide the entertainment and I think we’ve done a pretty good job.
5. Where do you want to go next?
James: We’ve got a big plan for Russia on hold. It would be nice to finish that off. We’ve even bought the cars. They must be in storage somewhere. I’d like to do something hot and deserty, because I’ve already forgotten the pain of Madagascar. Anywhere in Africa. But at the same time, when someone says, ‘go do a special in Wales’, I’m happy with that as well. I’m not fussy as long as there is interesting stuff to look at and there’s interesting stuff everywhere.
Richard: Travel is not especially easy still, so we’ll have to wait and see. But we’ll find somewhere to go and something stupid to do. I don’t doubt it. We’re good at that.
Jeremy: We were working on a story in an amber country and it then went red. We need three or four months to set up a foreign jaunt, and we can't be spending 10s of thousands planning, only for it to be scrapped. It’s all very well saying, ‘go to Iceland’, ‘go to Israel’, but nobody knows what will happen there in a month's time.
6. Do you have a favourite ever trip from The Grand Tour or Top Gear?
James: I liked the beach buggies in Namibia. I had that beach buggy shipped back and rebuilt. I was in it yesterday. That must be my favourite because it’s the only vehicle I’ve kept from a special.
Richard: Botswana. It was everything it looked to be on screen. It was also the first time we realised we can go off and have these incredible adventures and people want to come with us and share the fun with us. That was a gamechanger for us and our show. It was the moment we realised this was all possible.
7. Will you ever stop making The Grand Tour?
James: The only thing that will stop us is if we run out of ideas, Amazon fire us because nobody loves us anymore or if one of us dies. First place in the odds is one of us dies, second place is Amazon getting sick of us, third place is us running out of ideas. I’m going for death though. It will happen one day.
Richard: Who’d stop? I’ve worked in media for 33 years and I’ve been incredibly lucky because for the last 20 I’ve been working with an incredible team, seen places and been gifted opportunities that I’d never have possibly got from anything else. And I’ll continue to do that for as long as the opportunities present themselves.
The only thing that will stop us is if we run out of ideas, Amazon fire us because nobody loves us anymore or if one of us dies.
- James May
“We’ll keep going until we’re forced to stop. That’s not just the three of us, it’s also Andy Wilman and the crew. Some of the crew have grown up with us. They’re now in their 40s with families. I’d never want to break that. Until someone says ‘stop doing that’, I’ll keep doing it.
Jeremy: It’s weird, for many, many years I saw Richard and James for 250 days of the year, maybe more. Now we’re not doing a weekly show, it can be much less, but it’s still exactly the same when we meet up again. We saw each other this morning and we haven’t met in months and it felt like it had only been yesterday.
The Grand Tour feels like my annual adventure holiday. Where you go off and act all irresponsible, except we don’t come back with chlamydia. It’s marvelous.
How to watch The Grand Tour presents Lochdown
Watch The Grand Tour presents Lochdown on July 30th on Amazon Prime Video.
Every episode of The Grand Tour seasons 1-3 and the specials are available to stream on Prime Video.