EXCLUSIVE: The Grand Tour showrunner Andy Wilman has revealed new details about the solo projects and specials he is working on with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for Amazon, as well as the structure of their deal with the streamer.
Wilman spoke to Deadline after we reported that he is shutting down W Chump & Sons – the production company he co-founded with Clarkson, Hammond and May – and The Grand Tour will now be housed with BBC Studios-backed Expectation.
The executive producer said their latest deal with Amazon meant the need for them to have their own production company had reduced significantly. Under the agreement announced in December last year, The Grand Tour‘s studio format is being ditched in favor of a series of road trips, like the two-part Colombia special in season three.
“We’re doing fewer shows to keep the quality control up, so there’s no need for Chump. We’re not busy enough,” Wilman said. On the Expectation umbrella deal, he joked: “It’s a pretty loose deal. It’s not a golf umbrella, more of a foldable umbrella that you can put in your bag.”
Wilman said the former Top Gear team is making four unique adventure specials for Amazon. The first episode has been filmed and is currently being edited ahead of its release before the end of the year, while the second special will begin production in November for a 2020 release. Wilman described them as “biggies,” meaning they are on the scale of the Mongolia special Survival of the Fattest filmed for season three.
Wilman added that the new Amazon deal encompasses solo projects from Clarkson, Hammond, and May. Clarkson’s I Bought A Farm will be made through Expectation, although a deal for the series is yet to be finalized. Wilman said he will edit the Clarkson show, not executive produce.
He also has to devise his own solo project for Amazon, which Expectation will also house. “All four of us are doing our own thing for Amazon, but I will be last out of the traps,” the showrunner said.
Hammond’s next Amazon show, a six-part series with Mythbusters star Tory Belleci, is being made by Chimp Productions, the company he owns with his wife Amanda. James May, meanwhile, is making travelogue Our Man In… Japan with James May for the streamer with Plum Pictures, an indie with whom he has collaborated on BBC shows in the past, such as James May’s Toy Stories.
Wilman also said that their new Amazon deal has “got a bit looser,” meaning the four of them have the freedom to work on projects for other UK broadcasters. The arrangement still prevents them from working for rival streamers like Netflix, he added. Wilman joked that they’re now tied to Amazon with “pink Anne Summers handcuffs,” rather than police issue steel binds.
“Amazon wanted complete control because they were paying us a lot of money and they needed the show to work,” he said of their original Amazon deal, which was worth a reported £160M ($196M) when they signed in 2015. “Things have got more relaxed.”
Hammond is already working on 10-part Discovery series Richard Hammond’s BIG! through Chimp Productions, while Clarkson is the face of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? for ITV in the UK.