Jeremy Clarkson has admitted in a recent interview that he was forced to pay audience members to stay during the filming of the initial Top Gear episodes. Alongside Richard Hammond and James May, Clarkson paid so-called fans out of his own pocket for them to stay and watch the recording of episodes.
According to The Grand Tour host, audience members “were bored”, as he stated in a podcast interview called The Drive Through, by George Nicole.
“You roped in Richard Hammond, and then James May the next year, you guys obviously go on to be one of the most infamous trios on British TV.
“What was it about you three that clicked?” Nicole asked.
“Well, one of the very fortunate things as well when we first began was very few people were watching.
“Not just in the studio, we were having to pay, and this is out of our own pockets, we’d get a studio audience of probably, I don’t know, 30 people,” he admitted.
“And by the end of a recording, we probably were down to ten. They’d just leave. They were bored.
“And then we were having to pay out of our own pockets for them to stay.
“‘Here’s a tenner. Please just stay in the back of shot, please don’t go!'”
He admitted that some audience members used “having kids” as an excuse to leave, in which case Jeremy would offer even more money for them to stay.
“We were battling and nobody was watching on television either, really, in the first couple of years,” he said.
It now seems difficult to believe that Top Gear was once not as popular as it was before Jeremy’s leaving of the show in 2015, but when it first started, it was a very different animal. James May, who is now legendary for his actions on Top Gear, wasn’t included in the first season, with Jason Dawe taking his seat instead. But eventually the show morphed into something we now consider to be one of the greatest shows on TV.
How we miss it…