Love him or hate him, Jeremy Clarkson is back on our screens with Richard Hammond and James May next Sunday.
In a new interview about returning to work fairly quickly after leaving the BBC, he said: “There were nine minutes from me leaving the BBC, to Richard [Hammond] and James [May] saying ‘Actually we’ll come with you.’ And they were the happiest nine minutes of my life. Then in they walked.
That was about 15 months ago… Honestly, there was never a question of [them staying at the BBC], everybody left, producers, everybody just walked out the door and then we had to get going and that’s quite complicated. You can’t do the same show because of ‘intellectual property, IP’ so lawyers come and say ‘You can’t do that, you can’t have the audience standing up, you can’t do Star in a Car, you can’t have The Stig, James May can’t be slow and pedantic, I can’t be bombastic, Hammond can’t be short and from Birmingham’ so we had to jumble everything up and so we had to start again. We started in a tiny little office in Marylebone and there were only two chairs in it so we took it in turns to sit down and we had a stationery cupboard with a highlighter in it and some A4 paper and that was it… It is quite interesting because when you work for a large broadcasting organisation, they take care of everything for you. All of the stuff you don’t even know you need to do. Then, it was all taken care of for us and then suddenly we had to do it all. Like a potted plant, where do you get a potted plant from? You need a potted plant… Every office you’ve ever been into has a potted plant. You do [need it] else why does every other office have one?… [To Jonathan] You work here, when the drains block do you care a less? No. When the drains block in our office, I have to go and unblock them!”
On his reaction to the new Top Gear series that was launched on the BBC after Jeremy’s departure, he said: “This is the most political answer I’m ever going to give in my life, it’s not for me to comment on the efforts of other people in the same sphere any more than I say to you ‘tell me about Graham Norton’… They were doing their thing and I watched the first two and thought ‘OK they’re doing that, we’ll carry on doing what we’re doing’… I saw the first two because then we went away, but they were doing what they were doing and now they’re going to do it again, doing it probably differently… Nobody goes ‘Oh for heaven’s sake, there’s two cookery shows.’ There must be a thousand cookery shows, there’s a thousand gardening shows… Top Gear was very much my baby but now we have another one, it’s grown up, it’s become adolescent.”
Speaking about his new series, The Grand Tour, he said: “Names were incredibly difficult because every single combination of letters and numbers you can think of is already registered somewhere in the world by somebody.” On whether there is anything in the new series’ initials being GT and Top Gear obviously being TG, Jeremy said: “Yep. Everyone has conspiracy theories about it but no it was a pure accident [shakes his head and mouths ‘No it wasn’t.’]”
Speaking about feeling any pressure on the new series being successful because of the reportedly high costs of it, he said: “It’s a little bit more than it used to be but not that much more. The truth is, it’s three old men bickering and falling over. We should have called it ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ because that’s actually what it is.” Speaking about the first episode where they feature three super cars they were never able to in the BBC series, he said: “We wanted to reclaim the car crown. We just wanted to say ‘You probably think we’re going to disappear off up our own a*ses but actually we’re still capable and would want to do a car show.’ Admittedly in week two, we’ve pretty much forgotten to put a car in it.”
Watch as Clarkson, May and Hammodn describe the ‘The Grand Tour’ in a new Video
After a clip of the show was shown with dangerous-looking stunts – including James May shooting a car – Jeremy said: “In the clip just there, if you’d have been in a large broadcasting organisation they would never have let you have real bullets, but it’s our little production company… It’s funny when you’ve got real bullets. So much of the world is funny if only people would laugh at it. I wake up every day and honestly, can’t we just laugh at things? If you wake up in the morning and you’re breathing, you’re quids in.”
Speaking about when James May broke his arm whilst away on location when he fell over on a slippery surface after having a few drinks, Jeremy said: “That was the day before the very first shoot in France. He said he wasn’t going to turn up but then we pointed out to him that he was an a*se and that he was going to turn up and so he did turn up and we found an automatic car and off he went. It’s not hard. Anyway he managed very well, he never mentioned it,” he said rolling his eyes.
Speaking about his own experiences of hurting himself whilst filming, Jeremy said: “I put a clutch pedal through my ankle once, they found that very funny as I was carted off to hospital… I drove a lorry through a wall… Health and Safety had said ‘You mustn’t go faster than 30 miles per hour’. I thought it was going to look so slow and boring and so I went about 50 and hit the wall and it really hurt actually, I was surprised… These people in high visibility jackets may have had a point… But I didn’t make a fuss. I did.”
Buckle up for one of the most eagerly-awaited new shows in recent years, as former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May premiere their new car series on Amazon Prime.
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