'The Grand Tour' battles delays due to coronavirus

Jonathon Ramsey

For at least two months, "The Grand Tour" fans have rung Jeremy Clarkson's social media doorbell to ask when the next special will air on Amazon Prime. "The Grand Tour" has essentially become a video diary of international road trips, but the coronavirus has made such international travel practically impossible. Fans aren't happy with Clarkson pointing the finger at the pandemic, though, so over the weekend, Clarkson got executive producer Andy Wilman in front of the camera for a livestream session on DriveTribe. Wilman laid out the issues, one of which being that he himself caught Covid-19 and was laid out for 10 days. Clarkson asked how he fared with his "mild flu," Wilman answered, "I have had the plague. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever had — ever."

The real delay is due to working remotely. Crews shot the Madagascar special six months ago, capturing more than 1,000 hours of 4K footage that need to be boiled down to 90 polished minutes; Wilman said that for every hour broadcast, the crew shoots 1,000 hours. After spending five weeks organizing and uploading the footage, "Then there are three more months of shaping it, and then there’s all the back and forth and that’s even before Amazon get it and they have it for five weeks." Because of lockdowns and quarantine rules, the edit itself is being done at a distance, turning that three months into an even longer span. Wilman joked that equipment has been an issue during the cut, too, saying, "I had to go to Tesco to buy a microphone."

If all goes well from now, the executive producer said he'll send Amazon a cut in two to three weeks, so Amazon can begin the five-week process to prepare for streaming. Clarkson took the three-week timeline as a cue to tell fans, "If you want to know when the next installment of 'The Grand Tour' is coming up, ask Amazon, not us." That puts the Madagascar special completion around late June before any hitches. Even if that happens, who knows when Amazon will decide to air it.

For the second of three specials planned for season four, "The Grand Tour" team had been preparing a trip in northern Russian in March, but had to cancel it after spending "hundreds of thousands of pounds" to ship cars and pay locals. Despite the Russian language having no word for "refund," Wilman said, "We had to call it. It was the right move, thank Christ, but now we’ve got to wait for the snow again and we’ll go next year." The action starts at 3:16 in the video.

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