Funny Disclaimer: This post will contain several fan girl moments
Imagine getting an email from Amazon in your inbox sending you an invitation to the premiere of The Grand Tour in London hosted by Amazon. For those of you, who don’t like Jeremy Clarkson and co you probably wouldn’t be bothered or even slightly interested but having been in love with Richard Hammond for a long time I squealed with excitement; it was the sort of invitation I’d have dreamed of back when Richard Hammond returned to Top Gear in 2007, after his accident in 2006 so receiving it now, just feels like a huge privilege and honour. (Any Hammond trivia, fire away and I’m sure I’ll breeze through that part of a quiz). I was invited to be a guest of Amazon’s and the invitation included access to the screening of the premiere of the series before it landed on Amazon Instant Video on the 8th December as well as access to the after party all alongside the crew of the series and the UK’s journalists and press. (Living the dream)
The second series of The Grand Tour had a lot to live up to, the first series was like Top Gear on ecstasy (No, I haven’t tried ecstasy but am assuming that if it was applied to tv production, this is the outcome) and was a major middle finger up to the BBC with their now: bigger budget, 4K production and streaming freedom. It was everything fans around the world wanted; three men cocking about and arguing with the subtle hint of cars in the backdrop. So, when the second series became imminent there was a lot riding on it; we wanted the second series to be even better, bigger and even funnier. We wanted the sequel to be as good as the first. I’ll explain it like films, let’s take Bridget Jones; the first one, a brilliant comical film whilst the second film let it down; so was Jeremy Clarkson’s new baby going to be like ‘Cleever’ and never make it into the third season?
Now, I personally felt, this season opener was along the lines of something the team would’ve produced with the BBC because it had that road trip: European country, supercars and male banter/humour all things which make for a great show whether a season opener or not. Each road trip, the team embark with a question of which is best and this road trip was asking which was best; ‘past, present or future?’ The team had: a lambo which represented the past, a hybrid supercar and then the electric supercar. I really enjoyed the road trip and it had everything their old show had, so it was great for the team to bring that approach to motoring journalism again with their new Amazon approach to it. I did find, in places that the team liked focusing on the new filming technologies they have; because there were lots of beautiful shots of Switzerland’s landscapes instead of the team irritating each other. We could tell, that this series and entire show is being produced in 4k and the production and filming team want to showcase this as much as possible. It felt like the team had a newbie on their filming crew who wanted to show his friends and family his filming locations. But being a graduate, I must look at the opposite view and think that this was to do, with the team wanted to showcase a theme of the entire series: travel. The Grand Tour at heart is all about travel and going to grand places so the camera would have to show this it in it’s entirety.
I do believe; however, that this road trip was over shadowed because the show and the premiere built up the anticipation for us to see what delayed the series from screening back in November. This was Richard Hammond crashing the car he was driving, this was the Rimac Electric Car. From the very beginning of the show, Clarkson made us well aware what we would be watching so the viewers whether in their 10s, 1000s, or 10000’s were prepared to see this incident and the extent. The crash involved the car flip over several times from the top of a hill climb and then minutes later catching light. Due to the car catching light, there was no on-board footage and because it was at the end of the race, there were no filming crew at the end of the race which meant there was no full footage of the accident as there was with his prior incident which was fully recorded for the cameras; despite the lack of footage it was still rather harrowing to witness and no wonder he has preferred his wife and children to not view. With being like the Ice Queen of emotions, I kept a straight face and didn’t have an emotional breakdown as some assumed I would have. So, Ice Queen reigns.
With the grandness of the first seasons’ opener, this series had a lot to live up to with especially in this first episode opener. It was pretty clear, that the hype needed to be lived up to, in order to retain viewing figures and prime subscriptions but as I read on the day of it’s release from a journalist who would’ve been at this event; the trio have found their groove. I would say just like when Madonna found hers with ‘Into to the Groove’. This is something, Andy Willman said at the premiere, is, that he felt the show has now found it’s feet because they know what they do well and are going with this. The team now know what works and know where to take the show which is great to hear.
The trio, have remembered what was their selling factor from their BBC days; friendship, banter and exotic locations. Shows where they are just mocking each other, arguing in fancy locations is exactly what their ‘fans’ and viewers want to see and which is why they’ve managed to drag out their careers with one another for so long. I do believe that if you want proper motoring journalism you don’t watch The Grand Tour you get your review of a vehicle elsewhere not here. Whether, you loathe them, can tolerate them or you find them great like my Mum and I do, you cannot hide that they have shown the world and media how much we love old men cocking about regardless of cars being in or out of the shots.
So, the event you’ll be all asking or if you’re bothering to read this, I hope you’re thinking this? It was much better and whole lot more amazing than I thought. I genuinely thought it was going to be like going to the cinema; with a few people watching the show and then leaving. However, it was more of a party and a press launch then anything. Press, guests and fans gathered all with their invitation straight from Amazon or the shows’ PR team, a team that I would happily be apart of. Amazon who had clearly organised the shindig, had provided the people attending with; free unlimited alcoholic beverages, hot food and a party with Ricky and Melvin from Kiss radio as the DJ’s which was quite exciting. It was something that I had always imagined myself attending whether it be for one of my favourite shows or not. When, I was younger I always wanted to attend a premiere of something and this evening I lived that fantasy just without the outdoor red carpet or grand ball gown; instead a pair of chunky heeled boots, boyfriend jeans and a hun tee. (See, got fashion in there)
Were the trio there you might ask? Sadly, the presenters were not present they were at their New York premiere. I presumed that because Amazon is American they have to attend American premieres as a part of their contracts. As you can tell, I’ve spent a lot of time on my own to think of such things. Prior, to the event, I was dreaming and praying the Hamster would’ve been there to have made my 2017 even better and get the Facebook profile picture I’ve been after for years, but sadly he wasn’t but as I was there, was rather grateful he wasn’t since I managed to spill chilli sauce down my t-shirt from the chicken flatbread I ate post screening. Thank the lord, my first meeting wasn’t with lots of sauce down my chin and front. But, one bonus we had the executive producer, Andy Willman in conversation. Willman if you lived under a rock or were not familiar with his name is the brains behind Top Gear and one of Clarkson’s pals, the pair are responsible for a lot of the funniest sequences and lines. He was in conversation with the Vice President of Amazon Prime and the pair discussed the new season: what was being dropped and being brought in.
For example, Celebrity Brain Crash and The American have been dropped; two good drops in my opinion. I found Celebrity Brain Crash by the second week became slightly unfunny and predictable. The American was unfunny from the start, no Stig figure and so was very glad they removed him from this season. What I liked, was that they listened to their audience and went with the contributions from us in favour of reviews from critics which I found a bit of a breath of fresh air. I think, Clarkson especially, has realised that without the people like myself or some of my friends who watch their past and present content religiously that without us, their show wouldn’t be the success it is or has become in the last decade. Willman also addressed the incident involving Hammond since the audience and interviewer were so interested as to what happened because we hadn’t see the accident so wanted his knowledge; I realised that I was sat there, absorbing information that was said about Hammond that I could potentially have written by dissertation on how and why his tv crashes have happened as well as their impact on television series airing on the right date. Unfortunately, literature and my 11-year crush never were a made matched in heaven. For those who are interested, I’ll tell you regardless of whether you were interested, they are actually unaware of what happened and are putting the sheer speed and machine that the the car was, down to the incident and the presenter losing control of such a machine; let’s put it this way I can barely drive my Fiat 500 twin air turbo, so I admire it. Prior to seeing the episode, Willman explained that with Hammond remaining conscious unlike his previous car incident meant that he was able to make a swift exit himself prior to the vehicle catching light; something he too is very much aware of. I found, whilst listening to Willman, that like the trio, he too, is very funny and has a very similar sense of humour, quite dry and very sarcastic which makes for a very amusing interview.
I felt that attending such an event, was such a privilege for my younger self and myself now a day’s. I’m so glad that when they got in touch inviting me, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity even in my current condition and I also felt that when I answered their question of ‘what is your favourite part of the Grand Tour?’ I replied with ‘the trio’s chemistry and more importantly Hammond’s face’ I had to attend on the basis of such a witty response to a serious question. I’ve put this all in a vlog, so stay tuned for tomorrow (11/12/17) for a video on my Youtube channel showing you a sneak peek and also the interview with Willman.
The Grand Tour seasons’ 1 & 2 are now available for streaming via Amazon Instant Video: available to use via an Amazon Prime subscription
Disclaimer: I was invited to the premiere as a guest of Amazon’s but all views are my own