The Great Escapists is ‘Stallone and Schwarzenegger for geeks’

Richard Hammond’s new Amazon Prime Video series The Great Escapists combines pop science geekery with explosive Grand Tour-style silliness.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 29 January 2021 - 12.55pm

Richard Hammond takes a break from crashing cars, bickering with James May and Jeremy Clarkson and, well, crashing more cars for a new TV series on Amazon Prime Video called The Great Escapists.

Hammond teams up with Tory Belleci, star of the addictive American TV series Mythbusters, to take a look at science and engineering in a way that's never been done before.

Marooned on a desert island with only the wreckage of a boat, some Richard Hammond autobiographies and a load of gin to sustain them, the duo take two very different approaches to the situation.

Tory wants to escape and is ready to build any sort of road, sailing or flying vehicle that can help his escape. On the other hand, Richard quickly takes to life in the desert island paradise and puts his brain power towards creating power and devices to make their life just a little bit more comfortable.

Blending proper science, mind-blowing engineering and downright silliness, The Great Escapists is joyous, sun-drenched escapism.

Still need convincing? Here are 3 reasons, from co-host Tory Belleci, to watch The Great Escapists…

1. It’s Stallone & Schwarzenegger for geeks

Richard Hammon racing away from an explosion on The Great Escapists Prime Video

“We really wanted to come up with a pop science show together. Me with MythBusters and him with Brainiac [the science show that Hammond presented from 2003] just felt like a really good fit. I just said to him, ‘Whatever you want – tell me, and I’ll be there’.

“I remember when we were developing this show, I went to visit his office and took a picture of us together and put it on social media and someone wrote, ‘Oh my gosh, it's like the nerd world – my geek worlds are colliding’.

“It's like the Stallone and Schwarzenegger of the geek world have come together for a show.”

2. It’s Gilligan’s Island on steroids

Tory Belleci and Richard Hammond larking around on their paradise island Prime Video

"The format of the show is we’re stuck on a desert island and instead of trying to get off, we're trying to make the island better.

“It’s like Gilligan's Island on steroids. We're building tanks, we’re building giant tree houses, we’re building ridiculous machines to make our lives better.

“It’s kind of fantasy. We’ve created a real world, in that the science is real and what we're building are actual things which function. But the whole scenario of being stuck on a desert island is fantasy.

“The goal is to take complex science and make it simple. That's what I did for years on MythBusters.

"We always said, ‘Let's get out of the lab coats and make it interesting’, because science is all around us. And Richard has that vision as well.

"It’s about looking at how something works, why does it work, and coming up with simple ways to explain it, so you don't have to be a professor or an engineer to understand it."

3.  Yeah, science!

Richard Hammond with a life jacket on his head, shaped into a helmet Prime Video

“We have experts to make sure that this is all like properly authentic. We have a team of researchers who are making sure we have the right information.

“That’s important these days, especially now with the internet allowing the fans to respond and be so involved in what you're doing. So, we test stuff and we re-test it and we’re as accurate as possible with our information.

“There’s an episode where we are trying to make glass on the island so that I can make a lighthouse to attract passing ships. I build a kiln because I've always heard that if you take sand and heat it up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit or whatever, you can melt the sand into glass.

So, we're here on this desert island, there's sand everywhere, so I built a kiln and put beach sand in it and heat it up and it did nothing but turned white. I didn’t know why it wasn’t working.

"We did some more research and it turns out, it's only a certain type of sand, not beach sand, which is made up of a lot of seashells - so that was a learning curve.”

Watch The Great Escapists if you liked…

The Grand Tour, Braniac, Mythbusters, Scrapheap Challenge

Watch The Great Escapists now on Amazon Prime Video.

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