The Grand Tour - Seasons 1-3 (DVD)

The Grand Tour - Seasons 1-3 (DVD)

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Throughout the first three series of the programme, the format was focused on a similar arrangement to that of Top Gear, involving a mixture of pre-record television films - a mixture of single or multi-part films - and live-audience studio segments, though for legal reasons it was designed with significant differences to avoid clashing with the BBC's motoring series. Films focused primarily on car review, motoring challenges, and road trip journeys, often based around those of Top Gear, such as a challenge in which the presenters have to purchase a class of vehicle and see which is the best through a series of tests given through text messages from the show's producer. Alongside these episodes, the programme's format between 2016 to 2019 also included special episodes based around the specials of Top Gear, focused on the presenters travelling on journeys in a specific type of vehicle or class within a foreign locale.

Like Top Gear, car reviews on The Grand Tour functioned in a similar manner in which the presenters, either on their own or with their colleagues, take a look at various cars and test them out on various aspects such as performance, handling, and quality. Reviews are conducted in varying locales abroad, or within the United Kingdom, including a specially designed racetrack, parallel to the Top Gear Test Track, called the "Eboladrome". The track is not only used for reviews, but also for conducting timed laps of vehicles that are reviewed, except for ten cars which were timed outside of filming before the launch of the first series. Timed laps are conducted by a professional driver assigned to the programme - while the first series involved former NASCAR driver Mike Skinner, who was contracted to operate under the name "The American" and portray a stereotypical redneck accent and viewpoints alongside scripted character traits,[21][22] the poor reception to his involvement led to him being replaced by British racing driver Abbie Eaton for the second and third series.[23][24]

Celebrity Timed Lap board
Celebrity Time Condition Episode
United Kingdom Ricky Wilson 1:20.1 Dry 14
United States David Hasselhoff 1:24.1
United Kingdom Kevin Pietersen 1:17.2 Dry 15
United States Brian Wilson 1:17.5
United Kingdom Hugh Bonneville[25] 1:22.2 Dry 16
United States Casey Anderson 1:18.6
United Kingdom Michael Ball[25] 1:23.3 Damp 17
United Kingdom Alfie Boe[25] 1:24.4
United Kingdom Dominic Cooper[25] 1:23.6 Wet 18
United Kingdom Bill Bailey[25] 1:25.1
United Kingdom Luke Evans[25] 1:21.3 Dry 19
Canada Kiefer Sutherland[25] 1:17.8
United States Bill Goldberg[26] 1:20.4 Dry 20
United Kingdom Anthony Joshua[26] 1:18.7
United Kingdom Nick Mason[27] 1:21.3 Dry 21
United States Stewart Copeland[27] 1:24.2
United Kingdom Dynamo[25] 1:39.3 Snow 22
United States Penn & Teller[28] 1:33.8
United Kingdom Rory McIlroy[25][29] 1:21.9 Wet 23
United States Paris Hilton[29] 1:25.8

Studio segments were primarily filmed within a large studio tent that could house an audience of around 300,[30] with the presenters sat around a trestle table and the audience seated in front of them.[21] Initially, the first series involved these segments being filmed within a travelling tent that was set up in various countries, with audiences acquired from the local population at the site as part of an emphasis that the programme was on a "grand tour" around the world.[21] However, Hammond's crash in Switzerland and Clarkson's pneumonia prior to the second series, led to the use of a travelling tent being dropped in favour of a more fixed location, resulting in studio segments being filmed on the outskirts of Chipping Norton for the second and third series.[31] These live-audience segments act as breaks between pre-recorded films, much like in Top Gear, and operated on a similar format. Throughout all three series, the presenters often used a discussion period on various topics within a segment entitled "Conversation Street", which often involving a running gag of it opening with an intro of the presenters in silhouettes conducting something that often had something comedic and/or unusual occurs during the short interval.

Celebrities were not initially part of the programme to begin with, due to concerns over legal issues that the BBC could raise if it competed against the celebrity format used in Top Gear. As such, the programme created a humorous segment for the first series entitled "Celebrity Brain Crash", which involved celebrities being "killed" in an accident while making their way to the presenter's tent - the segment was done for comedic effect, and either involved an actual celebrity who was filmed briefly for the segment before their death is staged outside the tent's location or with a look-alike, or involving someone representing them, despite not being clearly identifiable. This segment was later dropped leading to the decision that celebrities would be a part of the programme for the second series in a new segment entitled "Celebrity Face Off".[23][32] Much like Top Gear's "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car", the segment involved two celebrities, who shared similar backgrounds or connections to certain elements (e.g. magicians) who competed against each other on a separate race track, to see who was the fastest, alongside conducting interviews with the presenters. The timed laps for this segment not only involved a different track, but also used a Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic coupe to create the lap time.[33] The use of celebrities was later dropped prior to filming of the third series, to dedicate more time to films.[34]