Jeremy Clarkson’s executive producer Andy Wilman has revealed some of the secrets of their new Amazon Prime Instant Video show “The Grand Tour.”
In a frank interview at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Wednesday, Wilman discussed the progress the team has made in producing Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s follow-up to “Top Gear.”
So what can you expect? Well, Wilman revealed a number of nuggets, including a “Game of Thrones” stunt, legal challenges during filming and his reflections on “Top Gear.”
Here are 11 things we learned from “The Grand Tour” showrunner.
1. Most of the show is in the can.
Wilman said 90% of “The Grand Tour’s” set piece films have been recorded and one episode, which will be the second of the series, is all-but complete. His focus is now turning to recording the studio-style elements in “The Grand Tour” tent, which is travelling the world. The tent has already travelled to South Africa, while future destinations will include California and Britain.
2. Prepare for a “Game of Thrones” stunt.
Clarkson will drive though the “Game of Thrones” set for a stunt. Wilman also provided a sneak peak of some of the footage, including Hammond being airlifted in his car while he sleeps and the presenting trio racing a Maseratis, a Rolls Royce, and a Porsche.
3. Filming has been a legal minefield.
There will be no Stig, no section titled “the news,” and no regular test track elements on “The Grand Tour” in case it infringes the BBC’s “Top Gear” copyright. This legal caution has also extended to other elements on the show, with Wilman joking that he has asked Amazon’s lawyers if James May can still say the word “cock.”
4. There is still no decision on a launch date.
The producer does not know when in autumn Amazon will launch the show, but he has been given strict targets for delivering completed episodes. “If we don’t hit our targets, they [Amazon] will send a hit man … next day delivery,” he joked.
5. Each episode could be a different length.
The series will comprise of 12 episodes, each of which will be around an hour in length. Wilman said they can afford to be a bit looser with episode lengths, given the show is not being broadcast on traditional television.
6. “The Grand Tour” could be released as a weekly show.
Wilman said he wants “The Grand Tour” to be made available on Amazon on a weekly basis, rather than released in one box-set for people to binge view. “There’s no threat, no plot,” Wilman said. “It’s not like watching ‘Breaking Bad’ where you think ‘shit, what will happen next?'”
7. It might yet find a home on TV.
The show could be repeated on a traditional broadcaster, Wilman said, explaining that “Top Gear” has a good “shelf life.”
He joked that show could be repeated on Dave in the future — the UKTV channel that is famous for wall-to-wall repeats of “Top Gear.”
8. The show is filmed in ultra-HD.
“The Grand Tour” producer confirmed that every episode will be be filmed in 4K, otherwise known as ultra-high definition. Wilman explained that this has made lead times longer because of the post-production process involved in managing the footage.
9. Amazon has an option to extend “The Grand Tour” after three years.
Wilman reiterated that W Chump & Sons — the production company he co-owns with Clarkson, Hammond, and May — has a three-year deal with Amazon for “The Grand Tour,” but revealed that the US company has an option to extend this agreement. Reports that he has a £4 million($5.3 million) budget for each episode are “bollocks,” he added.
10. Wilman believes Clarkson should not have been fired by the BBC.
The producer accepted that the senior “Top Gear” team had a “broken” relationship with the BBC, but argued that Clarkson should have been fined, not sacked, for punching producer Oisin Tymon last year.
“It was sad, but my point is, we were to blame too. I was entrenched, I was throwing my toys out of the pram, I was vicious in my reaction to everything and it became thumping heads, which was sad,” he said.
11. “The Grand Tour” producer has not watched new “Top Gear.”
Wilman revealed that he did not watch any of the new “Top Gear” series with Chris Evans because there was “a lot of pain for me.” He hopes, however, that the BBC “cracks” the show so it can be a success.
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