‘The Grand Tour’ Recap and Reaction: “Opera, Arts and Donuts”

Graham Host

Following a slightly improper beginning and disastrous attempt at special forces training, Clarkson, Hammond and May have retreated back to their homeland of Yorkshire in England. Now on home turf, let’s hope they can turn things around for the Grand Tour and themselves (or at least fail spectacularly in the attempt).

The Original Grand Tour

Back in the day, the richer of society would partake in ‘a grand tour’ by going to France or Italy to absorb the culture. But with this practice being lost over the years, James and Jeremy decided to resurrect it around Italy with GT cars – grand tourers. The route would begin in Siena, pass through Florence, Bologna and fair Verona before finishing in Venice.

James has settled on a magnificent Rolls-Royce Dawn whilst Jeremy went for the Aston Martin DB11. However, there are a few problems. Much like ‘the dress’, Clarkson’s car is either red or brown. Also, Hammond is gatecrashing with a Dodge Challenger Hellcat and two whole trucks to maintain it.

The Dawn (left) and the DB11

With little choice, the middle-aged yobbo is allowed to join their tour. The Hellcat has a bellowing engine, perfect for ruining the mood as the Aston and Rolls glide through the Italian countryside. Although initially cheaper, the Hellcat guzzles petrol like no tomorrow and actually has additional air intake replacing one headlight to cope with oxygen demand.

Evening Activities

Luckily, Jeremy and James lose Hammond in beautiful Florence. Yet whilst browsing some of the most famous paintings in the world, their peaceful moment is ruined by yobbish doughnuts being carried out by their colleague. To get back at him, Clarkson challenges him to a race on the Mugello race track. As the two zip around the track – chased by a recording helicopter – the genteel May takes time to paint the local scenery.

Eventually, his colleagues are compelled to undertake a timed lap. The Aston weighs less with a barely higher top speed but the Hellcat has more oomph behind it. Comparing times, things get close. Both are over two minutes, both by eighteen seconds. In the split-seconds, Hammond loses – his .79 to Clarkson’s .35. Retiring to join in with the painting, Hammond ruins yet another activity by using spray paint to immortalise the crude idea of his transport.

Using only spray paint

Conversation Street

After hearing Whitby was the centre of the British jet industry, James was terribly excited to spend days going through historical documents, blueprints and photographs. Yet the jet at hand is actually just polished coal. Somehow, the locals are marketing it as gemstones and making a profit.

In a startling break from the norm, Hammond has an actual topic: student drivers. Actually, the lack thereof. Roughly 16,000 driving tests were taken. Last year, the number was 4650. Clarkson thinks it’s because of how ugly the cars are getting. Asking for the ugliest car on sale, an audience member shouts ‘brown Aston’s’ to reference Clarkson’s car in the film.

Next is the Oxford ring road. Knowing the presenter, he’s probably exaggerating when he calls it “shrinking two roundabouts and putting some traffic lights up”. Hammond estimates the cost at £20K – the current cost is £9M with another million on the way.

The Original Grand Tour – Day Two

Setting off on the next leg of their journey, the trio start to review the inside of their cars. Aston has toned down the warning alarms to make them less aggressive but ruined the interior. Hammond is excited to fiddle around with all the toys he has until stumbling across his average MPG – 6.6. James has been doing 15.7 and Jeremy coming in at 21.

With a continuing irritation at the Dodge, James appears worryingly close to breaking. So – in keeping with their history – he and Jeremy uncover a hugely impractical gift and abandon him. In Verona, the pair enjoy some very expensive dining but their evening at the opera is ruined by the sound of screeching tires.


The following morning – determined to elude their companion – they attempt to depart without alerting him. But Hammond returns from an early run and catches them in the act. Hiding beneath plastic sheets and a fake moustache, they fail at another escape attempt.

In a desperate plan, Clarkson tweets an upcoming appearance in a small square in Vicenza and lures the small man with rumours of a doughnutting area. Thousands of people turn out to swarm the group and Jeremy is able to trap Hammond whilst almost getting James and himself stuck as well. Now without their noisy companion, the pair arrive in Venice and enjoy a traditional boating trip until a noisy powerboat turns up and begins sailing circles around them until both they – and their punter – fall into the drink.


Celebrity Brain Crash

One of the few great things about England is the lack of danger. Few people have guns, fewer still can carry them. Most people just go about their business peacefully. There are no natural predators, few geographical dangers and little chance of getting wounded.

So Star Trek star Simon Pegg should be safe, able to get to the studio unhin… damn. Somehow, a flock of seagulls went for his ice-cream as the bridge failed to properly engage. Having fallen into the icy waters, Scottie’s taken down a Pegg and the star dies. What are the chances?

The Bet

Back in their first episode, Clarkson bet that his car would be fastest. So sure was he that he bet his house for destruction – before losing. But with a single bat – and several laws – standing in their way, Hammond is forced to remove every roof tile by hand until it leaves. Having cleared the area of rodents, May then demands they proceed ‘properly’. Getting another digger, Hammond continues in his own way – until he gets stuck – and James progresses at a snail’s pace. Removing the last of Clarkson’s very disturbing ‘treasured possessions’, they decide to finish the house as the owner would – POWER.



Once again, the three idiots have managed to make a car show laughably enjoyable yet still highly informative.
Hammond’s obsession with being a modern age cowboy is getting dangerously weird. Someone get him some help.
Between the constant celebrity deaths and frequent loss of drones, I’m starting to smell a conspiracy in the Grand Tour works.
Clarkson has some very strange possessions. Let us hope they all went up in the smoke.

Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
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