It’s a hard life for Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, travelling the world, visiting lands many of us could only dream of, and having a right old laugh at the same time. But as the saying goes, “someone’s gotta do it”.
In 2020, a year which has been distinctively lacking travel, adventures and silliness, the latest special from The Grand Tour feels like essential viewing.
This time around, our familiar trio head to the French island of Réunion before being tasked by producer, Andy Wilman to go on a treasure hunt to Madagascar (which, according to the Amazon Prime Video show, features the worst roads known to man) to find pirate La Buse’s hidden goodies.
As is standard with the specials, the plucky presenters pick their preferred vehicle to get them there. Clarkson opts for a rather plush V8 Bentley Continental for the trip of a lifetime, while Hammond chooses a Ford Focus RS. May, usually known as Captain Slow, picks something a bit left field for him: a Caterham V10R, i.e, a race car.
Of course, as soon as they find out their destination, the car is largely redundant. They are allowed time to modify their vehicles for Madagascar’s “notoriously” rough terrains, for which Hammond and Clarkson decide to take no chances and cover their cars in as much steel as possible. May, on the other hand, finds there isn’t much he could do with his shoebox motor which didn’t even have a roof covering.
Thus, the trio set out looking for La Buse’s hidden treasure, which Hammond and May are positive exists. Whether they proved Clarkson wrong or not, we’re sworn to secrecy, but the epic blockbuster ending, complete with explosions in paradise, is certainly not to be missed.
Along the way, there’s the usual hijinks that turned the former Top Gear trio into beloved household names, and one of the reasons The Grand Tour is so successful. It doesn’t really matter that they’re technically doing a motoring show, the entertainment of the trio alone is enough to keep us gripped for an hour and a half.
Truly one of the most stunning aspects of the episode is the scenery. After pretty much a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions, how refreshing it is to see Madagascar brought to life. The gloriously colourful cinematography of the piece transports us from dark and drab Blighty to a beach paradise, complete with coconut trees, a warming breeze and crystal clear waters. Wanderlust called, she’s coming round for tea.
There’s no big revolutionary format-change in the Madagascar special. You’d be mistaken if you thought Clarkson, Hammond and May would stray too far from the usual line-up of banter, adventure and “POWERRRRR” that’s kept them in a job for the past decade (at least). But to bookend this review with another old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and The Grand Tour is showing no signs of breaking just yet.