He’s known for a lot of things, and having a semi-serious and insightful chat with the media isn’t exactly one of them.
He’s also a man that really needs no introduction. Motoring icon Jeremy Clarkson has held the throne for decades as the car journalist of all car journalists.
After an entirely amicable departure from the original car show that in some Voldermort-esque manner shall not be named, Clarkson, along with with the complete trio of Richard Hammond and James May, set off on a new adventure last year titled ‘The Grand Tour.’
The pressure was on and uncertainty surrounded whether Clarkson & co. would be able to carry their successful momentum across platforms to Amazon Prime Video, where they, along with their executive producer, would be the sole decision makers in the show’s direction. Despite hitting the odd speed bump or two from its conception to execution in their inaugural outing, the hotly anticipated second season is about to drop in full force.
In an interview that can really only be read in his unmistakable voice, Clarkson sat down for a chat with Boss Hunting ahead of the show’s second season launch. Seriously, picture Jeremy Clarkson’s dry wit and contemplative narration as you continue below.
JC: Good Evening John, good evening.
BH: Good morning Jeremy how’s it going mate?
JC: Very good how are you?
BH: Yeah well thanks mate – thanks for your time this morning I know this is the first cab off the rank, early start for you so I appreciate it.
JC: It’s 10 in the morning now actually so it’s not too bad to be honest!
BH: The other two aren’t in the office yet?
JC: They’re around somewhere, but you’re lumbered with me I’m afraid.
BH: That’s alright mate we can work with that. When’s the last time you were out here?
JC: Last time we were in Oz…was the Northern Territory trip where we had the Nissan, the Bentley and the ah…BMW that’s right, that’s the last time. We were in Australia like twice or three times a year for years and years before that, and then the last 12 months or so it’s been nothing. I don’t know why really, it’s mostly been Europe, and for no obvious reason that’s just how things have worked out.
BH: Have you had the chance to drive any of Australia’s token touring roads in your time here? Any Tasmanian gems for instance or the Great Ocean Road?
JC: I’ve driven most of Australia’s coastline actually over the years. I’ve been to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice, Darwin – so I know my way around the country quite well. I just don’t know why we haven’t been out there recently – you know stories pop up and they have to be done here or it has to be done there. We’ll definitely try and do it next year, that’s for sure.
BH: What are your opinions or presumptions towards Australia as a driving country? Obviously the show, both the previous and now The Grand Tour resonate so well here with such a large audience, is there anything in particular that stands out for Australia when you think of us as a nation behind the wheel?
JC: There was one thing out in – oh God – in the Western Suburbs, what’s the track called in Sydney?
BH: The Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek?
JC: Yeah so we had a V8 pickup truck, you know one of those V8 racing machines. I went to try and set a lap as fast as I could in front of the crowd, and absolutely nobody was interested. Then, I went out and thought “ah to hell with this” and just showboated, stuck its arse out, made a shit tonne of smoke and everyone got to their feet and applauded wildly. So I thought, okay, I’ve got it now. But apparently the police don’t like hooning there, I can’t see why. I would have thought burglary was worse to be honest, but anyway. That seems to be Australia. They appreciate exuberant driving, which was nice to see.
BH: That’s us to a tee mate, make a lot of noise and a lot of smoke and you’ve pretty much nailed it.
JC: And Australia has produced, and least in my opinion, perhaps one of the nicest and fastest drivers in the current Formula 1 crop as well, who doesn’t necessarily showboat.
BH: For season 1 of The Grand Tour, it was very much a show about cars but I don’t think it was exactly a car show. Can we expect the same ‘old dogs, new tricks’ concept for season 2? Is there anything that didn’t work previously that you’re looking to kinda re-jig?
JC: You’re right, it isn’t a car show, you’re dead right on that one. And absolutely, there were a number of things we looked at from the first season and thought nah, not sure about that. So we changed them and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work either, because it’s just us three and we don’t really know what we’re doing. It’s broadly similar, although things that people said they didn’t like we’ve tried to change.
We recorded episode one yesterday, the one in which Richard Hammond ended up in hospital because he had his crash. It’s not a car show but there are cars in it, that’s the best way of describing it.
BH: Let’s come back to Hammond if you don’t mind, firstly, I assume he’s doing quite well since his close shave in Switzerland?
JC: Yep, he’s fine! He’s hilariously now 7 millimetres shorter than he was before [laughs].
BH: The nature of the beast I suppose! Most of the driving on both Top Gear and The Grand Tour, despite being under some sort of supervision I assume, would still present some close calls – any particular moments you’ve ever thought, holy shit, that could have gone really bad?
JC: There is no close supervision, there is absolutely nobody else to tell us what we can and can’t do. I always think, well, what would look best on television? Then try and do that. We all do – well perhaps not James, he’s never been faster than 25 mph in his entire life. But that’s part of his stick and people love him for his slowness, but Hammond and I have no supervision. No one says you have to wear a helmet or you can’t do that, you do the best you can to provide the best entertainment that you can.
You always have people saying “oh you don’t do all your own driving” but then every time something goes wrong people realise and say “oh they actually do.” We are car journalists, that’s our job.
BH: I had the presumption that there’d be someone behind the scenes saying, okay, that’s gonna get a bit too risky, or we prefer you do it this way – not that you wouldn’t do your own driving…
JC: People forget that it’s our production company, we run the show, the only people behind the scenes are us. We make a TV show that Amazon then transmits, that’s it really.
BH: That’s quite refreshing to hear.
JC: Now there’s nobody saying “oh you can’t say that” or whatever. The company is jointly owned by the three of us, and Andy Wilman who’s the producer. He’s never on the shoots though, he’s in the edits, or so he says – we don’t actually know where he is half the time.
BH: I’ve just picked up the new Jaguar F-Type to review for the week, I know you had the V6 also a little while back, is there anything I should look out for, do you have any resonating thoughts from when you had that car?
JC: What you’ve got, the V6, it’s the best one. The V8 is too expensive. Okay, like, that’s a lot of money and what am I getting over the V6? The answer is not much. Tell you what though, we just drove the new two-litre one yesterday and that was pretty good.
BH: The Ingenium engine?
JC: Yeah the little one, it still manages to make quite an exciting crackle.
BH: I’ve heard, and for the price point that’s not bad at all.
JC: I agree, and I think it’s a really pretty car. My colleagues aren’t so sure but I think it’s very pretty.
BH: Let’s chat about the hype that is hypercars. McLaren have just announced they’re doing a hypercar, as Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin have also previously, do you see this landscape going anywhere in particular or have any of these cars caught your eye for good or bad reasons?
JC: They say the sun shines more brightly just before it dies. I think that’s probably what we’re seeing. There’s a couple of countries around the world that have announced the end of internal combustion engines, it seems the internal combustion engine is having one last hurrah with some properly exciting cars. I mean I’ve got the McLaren 720S parked outside my house right now, but since I only had to drive about 2 miles I took the Golf GTI. Going through London you do not want the McLaren 720S.
BH: Not with the excess on that thing too – at least that would be my primary concern!
JC: The excess isn’t so bad, the ride on the other hand is quite trying.
BH: Interesting, I think we’re getting the 720 towards the end of the year so looking forward to sharing those thoughts.
JC: Find a smooth road! That’s my advice for when you get behind the wheel of that thing.
BH: Following on from this ‘last hurrah’ for the internal combustion engine, I assume you’ve driven the Tesla Model S and X P100D’s?
JC: I’ve driven the Model X, the big one, the seven-seater. It had ludicrous mode and it was indeed ludicrous. It represents a whole new way of looking at what a car is. It’s just a fun thing. A 9-year-old, given the choice of a BMW M4 or one of those things – the 9-year-old is gonna want a car that has a sketch pad on the dash board and plays music to itself, wiggling its doors around for no reason other than it’s fun. Actually, I can see that will probably work. That Rimac that Hammond was driving when he crashed, the speed of that thing was absolutely unbelievable. It’s staggering. It’s not like with electricity we’re gonna be going slowly. I don’t know where that electricity is gonna come from to charge them all up, but I’m not desperately worried about cars becoming boring, because I don’t think they will be.
BH: I couldn’t agree with you more, since driving the Teslas I can’t look at cars the same again. They can’t be compared, it’s an entirely new ball game.
JC: I’ll miss the sound of a Lamborghini V12 in an Italian tunnel. I will miss that sound. But you know, at least you don’t lose any of the speed with batteries that’s for sure.
BH: Let’s talk about your other passions besides cars (and until recently, cigarettes), what gets you going that doesn’t have four wheels?
JC: Well as you know I’ve given up smoking now, so life has no meaning or purpose anymore [laughs]. It’s like being in Australia 24/7 as you can’t really smoke there either, so now I don’t smoke at all and life is just dreary, and I can’t see any point in living anymore without cigarettes. That’s about it really. Going out, getting drunk, can’t smoke.
BH: If you could stop the production of any car in the world today, what car would that be?
JC: Mitsubishi Phev Outlander. Have you seen that? That is a truly awful car.
BH: I’ll have to see what all the fuss is about.
JC: Put the regenerative braking on then you’ll see what I’m on about, then smash that nose into the wall.
BH: On the flip side then, if you could bring any car back into production that’s been discontinued, what would be your pick?
JC: [Pauses] Lexus LFA. Hands down.
BH: Yes! Have you experienced the LC 500?
JC: Doesn’t really matter as it’s the V10 engine I miss. It sounded like a wounded dog that thing. It’s the most wailful sound I’ve ever heard. It’s just fabulous. That is the greatest engine I have ever experienced and I thought the car was just as trippy because of it.
BH: That’s all from me mate, thanks for the chat. Much appreciated Jeremy.
JC: No worries at all! Thanks for calling.
Season 2 of The Grand Tour is available in Australia on Amazon Prime Video Dec 8th.