I imagine there must have been a few BBC executives sobbing into their wheat-free granola as they watched The Grand Tour released today as they wondered how on earth they had let their most saleable brand go to Amazon for nothing.
The series has been much-anticipated in the Parrot household as we are all fans of Top Gear and the plan was to watch it together on Sunday. But that idea went out of the window.
I thought I’d watch the first five minutes on my PC and ended up watching the whole show, but then Mrs P had done the same thing on hers and I’ve no doubt Master P will have found it somewhere on the interweb. And it is stunning – Top Gear with a blockbuster budget.
The opening was spectacular as Clarkson, May and Hammond drove across the Mojave Desert through a wild collection of weird and wonderful motors to a live backing of The Hothouse Flowers version of I Can See Clearly Now.
And the show did not go downhill from there. As the BBC Arts Editor puts it: ‘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.’
I thought that calling this first episode The Holy Trinity was a pretentious reference to the three presenters. In fact, it actually referred to the three hybrid hyper-cars – the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Ferrari LaFerrari – which were put through their paces.
The show’s new race track, known as the Eboladrome because it is shaped like the Ebola virus, (which is based at the former RAF airfield at Wroughton near Swindon) looks like it will make for some interesting footage in future episodes.
I’m sure there will be those who hate cars or hate Clarkson and will be critical, but more than ever The Grand Tour points the way forward for broadcasting in true cinematographic splendour. And the Parrot household will be watching it again together on Sunday.