‘Excited’ by season 3 but then ...
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
If The Grand Tour were a car, it would be a gas-guzzling vintage model, gorgeous but rather unfashionable — and eye-wateringly expensive.
When it first came roaring onto our screens in 2016, at an estimated cost of NZ$230 million for three seasons, Jeremy Clarkson’s car show was heralded as a triumph for Amazon Prime.
But now, after a spate of firings and cancellations at the streaming service, the show’s future looks less than certain.
This week the new chief of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke, gave her first interviews since replacing disgraced former executive Roy Price in the role.
Despite speaking at length to a raft of trade publications Salke didn’t once mention Amazon’s flagship factual entertainment show.
In a subsequent statement, however, Salke was quick to reassure the show’s fans that she hasn’t forgotten about it.
“I can tell you that Jeremy, James [May] and Richard [Hammond] are amazingly talented and have our full support,” she said. “The guys are heads down working on the upcoming season, which we are excited to launch later this year.”
It’s a little surprising, however, that there has so far been silence about Clarkson and co from another new recruit, Heather Schuster.
As Amazon’s head of unscripted programming, Schuster is directly responsible for The Grand Tour (despite Richard Hammond’s clearly pre-written jokes, the show is classed as “unscripted”).
Schuster’s predecessor Conrad Riggs seemed keen on petrol-head fare; as well as playing a decisive role in securing The Grand Tour, he also commissioned Grand Prix Driver, a series narrated by Michael Douglas.
By contrast, Schuster’s most noteworthy new title is Lorena, a documentary exploring the “painful human tragedies” in the life of Lorena Bobbitt, a woman who found brief tabloid notoriety in the 90s after chopping off her husband’s penis.
Last week, Schuster warned against flinging money at projects that didn’t need it. “We don’t want to get a budget for $2 million to make a $500,000 show,” she said.
Looking at The Grand Tour’s profligate gimmicks — such as building an enormous status of Clarkson’s head, as if he were Ozymandias, king of kings — it seems an obvious candidate for some painful cuts (though not quite so painful as those inflicted on Mr Bobbitt).
Amazon’s line-up of ongoing shows can’t keep expanding forever.
Salke has said the streaming site is not in the same kind of “volume game” as Netflix, and is aiming for quality over quantity.
To make room for new titles, it’s inevitable that a few old shows will end up on the scrap heap.
The Grand Tour’s contract extends only until the third season, which is expected to premiere later this year. No plans for a fourth series have yet been announced, but at this early stage it would be wrong to interpret that as evidence one way or another.
The former Top Gear presenters have an enormous worldwide fan base, which gives Amazon a financial incentive to keep the show on the road.