The Grand Tour has recently changed dramatically compared to when the show first aired on Amazon Prime Video. Originally, it followed a similar idea to Top Gear, with the tent being the show’s home base, a race track in the form of the Eboladrome, and of course, the audience.
It followed a natural structure with a number of episodes and a special, two-parter at the end of the series, but after the latest season, everything changed. The Grand Tour left the episodic structure and instead turned to only a couple of specials per year. While this new format hasn’t been so popular with fans, it’s also been a real challenge for Andy Wilman, one of the eggheads behind the show.
He discussed this in an interview with BT:
“We’ve always tried to make a special feel special,” he said. “If you look back at the Top Gear ones, they started at an hour. Then they became 90 minutes. Then some of them became two-parters. None of that was planned. The key thing is the 90 minutes. That’s the biggest thing that beats you around the head.
“A 90-minute special needs a narrative. In an hour you can piss around more. Just jump around like children with too much sugar. But these longer specials need a journey and narrative, which is added pressure.”
Andy goes on to defend the idea of using boats to kick off the new structure of The Grand Tour. While he expected the show to receive some backlash, he still believed it was the right thing to do:
“We’ve been to a lot of places, we’ve done a lot of old cars getting hammered by the environment but winning through – so you’ve got to try hard to think beyond that. That’s one of the reasons we took a break to do the boats (2019’s The Grand Tour presents Seamen). We knew people would say, ‘what are you f***ing playing at’, but we knew we still had the right ingredients and it was the right thing to do.
“And by the time we returned to cars for Madagascar we were all refreshed and ready to go for it with cars again.”