Thoughts on The Grand Tour (the one on the telly)

A few years back I was enjoying a pint or five with an old school chum who is some sort of producer, director, hybrid-creative type. I always used to find his work stories interesting because, back then, I was one of those desk-jockey drones. The sort that looked all too familiar on the News at Ten when some young hotshot had a lost a billion or five, illegally betting on the wrong commodity/derivative/bond (delete as appropriate). Anyway, what stuck in my mind was his predictions for the future of film and TV. “Netflix will be huge and dominate everything!” was the line. At the time i’d just subscribed so, other than bingeing on Friends/The West Wing/Delete as appropriate, i didn’t really understand how (or why) his prediction would come true.
Fast forward 7 years and now the power of TV streaming has become abundantly clear by the new incarnation of The Grand Tour. When it was commissioned (3 years ago?) it was no more than a rip-off of Top Gear. And why wouldn’t it be? Same presenters, same format, same producer. It worked, and it was loved world-wide. But what Amazon understood, that the beeb never could, was how people viewed the show. Because you’re watching a streamed show, Amazon know which bits you fast-forward through, which bit you mute the tv, and which bit you head off to make a cup of TV. Having read three articles in as many weeks, it turns out that Amazon have decided to do something about that and cut out the bits you don’t watch. That’ll be the star in a reasonably priced car (or whatever it was called). That’ll be the audience interactions. And that’ll be the “tamed racing driver”. If Amazon are right, what you’re left with is basically a travel show with a twist. That twist means you could really rename it “Messing about in cars in foreign countries”. Now, if you think about it, if one of the most popular shows on the planet is basically a bunch of mates going on a jolly in their cars, somebody should really start a company to take all the hassle out of it. Hang on, that’ll be us then!