He and his former ‘Top Gear’ co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May all appear in the new show, the first reviews for which have now been published, and it sounds as though, if you were a fan of the trio’s efforts on the BBC, you’re in for a treat, even if the team probably won’t exactly win over any of their detractors with their new effort.
Here is a selection of what the critics had to say about ‘The Grand Tour’, with Clarkson and co. getting a much warmer reception than Chris Evans did earlier this year…
The Huffington Post UK
“On paper, it’s easy enough telly to while away an hour while the pizza’s on its way, but a certain BBC reboot has proven just how difficult this effortless kind of TV actually is to make.
“There’s the promise of huge stunts to come - Richard Hammond being dangled in the air from a helicopter, Clarkson on a jet-ski - but the heart of the show is a bunch of blokes who simply like cars and claim not to get on. What’s that we can hear? I think it’s the sound of three middle-aged men having the last laugh.”
“Filmic is the word that sprang to my mind when watching the Grand Tour.
“The scale of the production, the quality of the cameras, the epic sweeping shots and the pastiches of old movies - it seemed the show was aimed at the big screen, not the telly. Or a mobile phone, which is how I imagine a lot of people will view it.
“Maybe the small screen is too small for them, and their next step should be away from the internet and into the cinema. It seemed to me that Grand Tour is a TV show that wants to be - and quite possibly should be - a movie.”
“‘The Grand Tour’ is different, in format: there are loads of new ideas… and yet it’s all utterly familiar. Because more than format, more even than the amount of money you throw at something, what really gives a television show its personality is the personnel.
“You can pour something into a different container, but it still tastes the same. And, like it or not, this tastes of Clarkson, Hammond and May. Fans of old ‘Top Gear’ are going to be happy.”
“With The Grand Tour, it’s as if not one day has passed since Clarkson floored someone for failing to present him with a steak. It’s just another very luxurious, high-octane day at the office for the world’s most Marmite Motor Musketeers, and they’re having fun, which naturally makes the show fun.”
“Clarkson and his chums have the kind of natural camaraderie that knocks down Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc’s meagre BBC presenting efforts like a feather. RIP Top Gear. Long live ‘The Grand Tour’!”
“The first episode can’t quite reconcile its attempts to be a general entertainment show and a must-watch for car nuts – segments testing out ‘hybrid hyper-cars’ drag at times, while an extended sketch about accidentally bumping off an array of celebrity guests boasts impressive cameos, but doesn’t quite hit the mark.
“If The Grand Tour is basically Top Gear with a nitros boost of Amazon finances, the difference is immediately apparent – it’s a stunningly beautiful show, shot in vibrant 4K that captures every swirl of dust and gleam of chrome.
“Those who have never counted themselves as Jeremy Clarkson fans aren’t exactly going to be won over here – but Episode 1 is a confident opener that leaves the BBC’s attempted Top Gear revival in the dust.”
“The boys seem cheekier and... perhaps happier this time around. It didn’t go unnoticed that the intro featured a grim Clarkson leaving rainy London for the sunny climate of Los Angeles to the tune of ‘I Can See Clearly Now’...
“Yes, ‘The Grand Tour’ is bombastic and silly. Yes, a lot of it is (knowingly) a rip-off of ‘Top Gear’ (Jeremy even said ‘meanwhile…’), but that’s exactly what we wanted.
“It’s all the things we loved about their old show, but bigger, brighter and more blow-upier. They’ve somehow come up with the world’s first scripted comedy factual show, and it works perfectly.”
“Ultimately the episode should have been called ‘Elephants in the Room/Tent’. It was called ‘The Holy Trinity’ after the triplet of hybrid hypercars – not an ego-centric naming of the three hosts. But if you’re from the BBC, looking at what they’ve set free and said goodbye to, it’ll feel like those hosts were “The Holy Trinity” that made ‘Top Gear’ into a religion. It remains to be seen if ‘The Grand Tour’ will become its own church, but it’s needs a chance to become its own entity, instead of being compared to what used to be. Hopefully, from the next episode on, we’ll be able to work out what it will become.
“But what we will still have, as evidenced by a personal highlight from the show, is Mr Clarkson’s delectable own way of dealing with questions of importance – like addressing the Volkswagen Diesel-gate with nothing but a single look.”
“If nothing else, after the damp squib of the official ‘Top Gear’ reboot, The Grand Tour’s first episode shows that the format can still work. It’s not a total reinvention, yet much as half a second makes all the difference on the race track, every refinement is a breakthrough.
“Clarkson’s team may not be afraid of a fight, but until they have a worthwhile competitor, they’re happy to keep pushing themselves.”
“‘The Grand Tour’ isn’t a shameless ‘Top Gear’ rip-off. But under the hood the rival franchises have a great deal in common (one interesting nugget imparted by Clarkson was that Amazon had insisted the team use an American Nascar driver for the week’s centre-piece dash around their test-circuit).
“The new series will certainly go some way towards obliterating memories of TG’s terrible Chris Evans-fronted relaunch (Clarkson even repurposed his ‘bombshell’ catchphrase as ‘and on that terrible disappointment’).
“Petrolheads can rejoice. The BBC may wonder how Matt LeBlanc and whoever joins him next year can possibly compete.”
“[Clarkson] says: “I’ve lost my house. We’ve had a fight with the audience. Somebody shot our drone down. And we’ve killed three quite major celebrities.
“‘And on that terrible disappointment, it’s time to end.’
“But in reality he knows this was anything but a disappointment.
“Being sacked from the BBC was the greatest thing that ever happened to Clarkson and co — and the world of cars on TV.”
‘The Grand Tour’ is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.