Amazon's 'The Grand Tour' appears headed for a less-than-grand close

Hollywood trade publication Variety reports Amazon Prime Video is "likely to part ways with Jeremy Clarkson" and the two shows he fronts, "The Grand Tour" and "Clarkson's Farm." Clarkson still hasn't emerged from the firestorm he caused with the regular column he writes for British tabloid The Sun. In his piece from December 16, he lobbed grenades at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle. The column's title was "One day, Harold [Prince Harry] the glove puppet will tell the truth about A Woman Talking B*ks." One line in the piece was, "I hate her. Not like I hate [Scottish National Party leader] Nicola Sturgeon or [British serial killer] Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level." And those are not the worst of the lines people complained about.

You know those scenes in sci-fi war thrillers where eight or nine thousand Space Navy battleships focus their combined fire on an enemy? Yeah, that's what happened to Clarkson and The Sun.

The show host apologized to the public. He apologized to Harry and Meghan. The Sun apologized. Clarkson apologized to the public again, and sent Harry and Meghan an e-mail of apology. It's not enough to stop the fallout. Prime Video had planned a promotional videoconference for the second season of "Clarkson's Farm," which begins airing February 10 barring more changes. Execs canceled the videoconference not long after Clarkson posted another apology earlier this week. It's said the streaming service will follow through with Clarkson shows already commissioned, but Amazon hasn't commented on the matter. If the reports are true, we'd see four more episodes of the fifth and final season of "The Grand Tour" that will run into 2024 or early 2025, and a third season of "Clarkson's Farm" that's anticipated to run in 2024.

For anyone who remembers "Top Gear's" heyday and its ignominious end before several reboots, this is just a little bit of history repeating again. Mind you, "Top Gear" started in 1977 and was one of the BBC's top-rated shows by the early 1980s. Clarkson's induction as a presenter in 1988 only made the show more popular; BBC News said he helped grow the audience from several hundred thousand viewers to more than 6 million before Clarkson quit in 1999. The BBC canceled the old "Top Gear" in 2001, with Clarkson returning to helm the show with a new format in 2002. As with the previous series, the reboot took the occasional hit for upsetting carmakers, allegedly celebrating bad driving behavior, and saying an uncouth thing, but it was all pretty standard repartee until about 2008, when "Top Gear" lied about a Tesla Roadster running out of charge. By this time, "TG" was again the BBC's biggest show, and every gaffe Clarkson made in the years after was taken as an official position of "Top Gear" and perhaps all of Great Britain.

We put together two lists of "Top Gear" gaffes, the first from 2008 to 2014. The second starts in 2014, includes the end of the new "Top Gear" in 2015, Amazon picking up the hosting trio to front "The Grand Tour" that same year, and what it took to get to the start of the first episode in November 2016. The controversies didn't end with the change of show and network, such as Richard Hammond taking a shot at Argentina five years after the "Top Gear" crew had been run out of the country.

Anyway, here we are once more. "The Grand Tour" is one of Amazon Prime's biggest shows, and it's about to be over after the same song and dance (although 2024 is a long way away, so anything could happen). We'd sum it up as, if you (Amazon) join the Leopards Eating Faces Party (Clarkson, Hammond, May), you're eventually going to get your face visited by a leopard (Clarkson).

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