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7 Questions with… Jeremy Clarkson: Grand Tour star reveals all about Amazon Prime Video Madagascar special A Massive Hunt
Clarkson, Hammond and May are back on the road for Amazon’s The Grand Tour in a gruelling and jaw-dropping adventure in Madagascar titled A Massive Hunt.
Pirates, a treasure hunt and the most gruelling road trip in the world. Fans of The Grand Tour have had to wait a long while for the latest special, but it’s been more than worth the wait.
The Grand Tour presents A Massive Hunt, filmed in the exotic islands of Reunion and Madagascar, finds Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May taking on an Indiana Jones style adventure to find a long lost treasure.
Beginning in sports cars on the smooth roads of Reunion, the trio can’t believe their luck. However, when the adventure diverts to Madagascar, the beauty of the island isn’t matched by its roads.
Despite their best efforts at modifications, nothing quite prepares them for the vehicle-wrecking trek ahead.
We caught up with the trio to find out more about the highly-anticipated special. First up: Jeremy Clarkson...
1. Jeremy, the roads in Madagascar looked brutal, how tough was this special?
Ah, it was relatively simple. It was like London to Nottingham on the M1. No, that road was phenomenally gruelling. Obviously the backdrop is not gruelling at all. Deserted white beaches, turquoise seas and a jungle around us overflowing with fruit and things to eat.
It wasn’t the North Pole and it wasn’t the desert, but the going was spectacularly tough. I think people will wonder how these three cars kept going in the way that they did.
2. What was your verdict on the islands of Reunion and Madagascar?
Reunion, I didn’t much care for to be honest. The ring road was spectacular, but it was quite dreary. Much drearier than I was expecting. Whereas Madagascar is absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful.
There are colours that you don’t realise exist in the world now. Nor do you realise there are roads in the world that bad. I’m sure viewers will enjoy our discomfort.
There was a deep, deep joy for me because I was incredibly comfortable in my Bentley and I could watch James May being phenomenally uncomfortable in a Caterham which improved my mood every day.
3. You make lots of Brexit references in the special. Did you plan to do that?
Like all these things it’s spontaneous. But Reunion is in the EU. I know it sounds ridiculous, a little island 13 hours on a flight away from Paris, but it is. And then you fly a short distance over to Madagascar, which isn’t in the EU and the difference is palpable.
I just thought, I wonder if this is what Britain is going to be like come January.
4. What was the biggest challenge of A Massive Hunt?
The biggest challenge was the road. The first time we got to it, I thought there was absolutely no way we would be able to drive our cars along here. I had the same feeling when we got to the North Pole. When we got to the boulder fields, which are big lumps of ice and I just thought, you can’t drive a car across that, you just can’t.
But this is what amazes me about cars, you can get them to go places you can’t really believe are happening. It’s a real wonder we managed to make it 100 yards on that road.
5. With Covid delaying the specials, have you missed the old Grand Tour tent?
We wouldn’t be able to film in a studio tent either. Almost every production in the world is really, really struggling.
I think we were very spoilt in the first summer lockdown that a lot of TV shows were already filmed. I think we’re in for a bit of a desert next year, because it’s just incredibly hard to make TV shows right now. The insurance risk is incredible.
If you start shooting abroad and then you have to cancel it suddenly, seven-figure sums can be lost. Nobody is going to take that risk, understandably,
6. What can you tell us about your new farming show?
That was the luckiest break. I’m always very lucky, but to do a show in my own backyard in the year of a pandemic is incredibly good fortune. We did manage to keep filming, albeit with a massively reduced crew of one sound man, one cameraman and me, that was it. But we managed to keep filming all the way through, which is tremendous.
My heart obviously goes out to everyone suffering appalling hardships and deaths and what have you, which is a nightmare, but I was as fortunate as hell.
7. What can you tell us about the Grand Tour specials in Scotland and Russia?
With Scotland we knew we couldn’t go abroad, so we took a look and thought, "well, the Outer Hebrides then". And when we got there, we bumped into the producer of A League of their Own, Joanna Lumley, Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse, every single TV show you could think of that ordinarily would be somewhere else in the world was suddenly in the Outer Hebrides. They must have done pretty well out of Covid.
As for Russia, it would be like me asking you what are you doing at Christmas. You don’t know. Boris Johnson doesn’t know, President Putin doesn’t know, nobody knows. We have no idea where we will be in a week, let alone six months.
I’m getting increasingly fed up with it, but BBC News are managing to do these vox pops every night where they ask people, "what will happen?" and "what would you do?" and none of us have a clue. We have plans for Russia. It’s oven-ready as Boris Johnson would say, but we can’t push the button and say 'go'. Hope is no good, we have to be certain.
The Grand Tour presents A Massive Hunt is available now on Amazon Prime Video.
Watch The Grand Tour seasons 1-3 and specials on Amazon Prime Video now.