Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May on their action-packed Scandi adventure

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Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond And James May On Their Action-Packed Scandi Adventure Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond And James May On Their Action-Packed Scandi Adventure
Handout Photo from The Grand Tour: A Scandi Flick. Pictured: (L-R) James May, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond
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By Danielle de Wolfe, PA

It’s often said that life is all about balance. For presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James ‘Captain Slow’ May, and the prized Grand Tour machine, that basic principle remains all but an alien concept.

More accustomed to desert drag-races, oceanic escapades and cross-continental chaos, the trio have long been linked to entertaining extremes.

That being said, as much as forthcoming special The Grand Tour: A Scandi Flick, retains the trio’s penchant for calamitous crashes – it was May, on this occasion, who found himself blue-lighted to hospital – the 90-minute episode finds itself meandering back to the show’s machine-powered roots.

“If we do a light-hearted, fluffy Grand Tour, the car enthusiasts say, ‘It’s not what it used to be’,” says Clarkson, 62. It’s precisely why the forthcoming instalment is set to harbour more horsepower than any petrolhead can feasibly handle.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9vdHoxuaQc

Labelling the upcoming special “fairly hardcore”, Clarkson predicts the episode will prove to be “extremely popular among car enthusiasts” – if only down to the trio’s car selection and the models’ cult status among petrolheads.

It’s a U-turn fellow presenter Hammond, 52, explains away. Reflecting on the extensive travel restrictions put in place during the pandemic, the limitations of lockdown acted as something of a palette cleanser, with the show returning to its revved-up roots.

“In a way, [for] the two shows we made in lockdown conditions, we couldn’t fall back on ‘look, there’s a desert, and there’s a mountain, and a jungle, and a glacier’,” says Hammond.

“We had to fall back on what we are – which is three middle-aged petrolheads, who have been lucky enough to have these adventures together and neglect our love of the subject at the heart of the show.

(Prime Video/Ellis O’Brien/PA)

So what can we expect from the sub-zero Scandi conditions?

Travelling across Scandinavia – taking in swathes of Norway and never once dropping below the Arctic Circle – the presenting trio prepare to don their thermals. Renowned for its hostile environment, the chilly winds and frequent snow regularly cause temperatures to plummet, dipping as low as minus 30 degrees on occasion.

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Clarkson, however, dismisses the temperature extremes in characteristic Clarkson style.

“We were able to have a laugh at the expense of those who claim that it’s Europe’s last wilderness, because it sure as hell isn’t,” surmises Clarkson.

Explaining that on average, temperatures tend to range between two and minus two degree mark, the Clarkson’s Farm star says temperatures can get down as low as minus seven when “there’s a bit of wind”.

“It’s a fascinating place to visit. I’ve been up there a few times, and I’m just amazed that anyone would carry on living there.”

Combining escapades on expansive frozen lakes with rugged ski-slope terrain, what could possibly go wrong? The answer is a lot, it would seem.

(Prime Video/Ellis O’Brien/PA)

What antics are to be expected from this latest action-packed instalment?

To call it a petrolhead’s dream is not to dismiss the adrenaline-fuelled antics concocted by the trio. Between the frequent in-jokes and childish pranks lies a host of absurd stunts – think one-legged skiers being swung around behind May’s Evo, cars sliding beneath the fractured surface of frozen lakes and bus shelters being towed around like trailers.

One particular stunt, however, might just see Captain Slow undergo a name change. Rushed to hospital following a 40 mph head-on collision with a tunnel wall, engineering enthusiast May describes the incident as “quite alarming”.

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“I don’t know what came over me, really, it’s most unlike me,” mutters the presenter. “I knew I’d overdone it and I was going to crash.”

Recollecting the moment he braced for impact, May recalls “when the wall came up, I thought: ‘Ooh, this is actually going to be quite a big bang’.”

An incident which saw him break a rib as a result of the impact, May downplays the dramatic accident, switching conversation to his love of beef Hula Hoops “which I ate in the ambulance because I was feeling perfectly okay”.

Despite his assertions, however, doctors subsequently ordered brain and spine scans after viewing the crash footage from inside his vehicle.

(Prime Video/Ellis O’Brien/PA)

“I wasn’t screaming in agony,” asserts May. “There were no bones sticking out – and I hadn’t run over anybody, most importantly. So from that point on, it was fine.”

Recounting the situation from an onlooker’s perspective, Clarkson’s tone becomes more sombre as he notes the seriousness of the situation.

“This is what people need to remember with accidents: you can roll down a road upside down and on fire for as long as you like, and it’s very unlikely you’ll get hurt,” explains the presenter.

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“What hurts you is coming to a sudden stop. And that’s what happened to James.”

He goes on to compare the accident to Hammond’s 2017 mountainside crash which took place during filming for an earlier instalment of The Grand Tour.

An incident which saw Hammond airlifted to hospital after his car rolled down a hillside in St Gallen, Switzerland, the subsequent inferno ensured little was left of the wreckage.

The accident followed the presenter’s earlier 2006 crash in which he sustained a serious head injury while traveling at 316mph on the set of Top Gear.

“Richard, when he went upside down, didn’t come to a sudden stop. That’s why he’s still here today,” says Clarkson.

“I’m not entirely certain how fast James hit that rock face – but I’m going to say 40 miles an hour. And from 40 miles an hour to a dead stop is more dangerous than rolling down a hill.”

(Prime Video/Ellis O’Brien/PA)

So what of the vehicles?

Abandoning luxury cars and disregarding outlandish modifications, A Scandi Flick sees the trio each select a rally car to help them cross the hostile Scandinavian terrain.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t fail to indulge our inner car nerd,” smiles Hammond. “And by choosing rally-bred cars, we knew we were going to be in cars that we loved.”

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With Hammond opting for the timeless silhouette of a Subaru Impreza WRX STI “because it was made for rallying”, Clarkson, not one to be outdone, settles in behind the wheel of an Audi RS4.

A line-up completed by May, who opts for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII – “an authentic spec car” – the presenter is quick to note the useful mix of “analogue instruments and a few buttons to press”.

“It was yellow, and I really like yellow cars,” says May, 59. “And Jeremy’s car was sort of irrelevant because he cheated.”

The Grand Tour: A Scandi Flick arrives on Prime Video on September 16th.

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