The Grand Tour season two takes you around the world. What was your favourite country?
Mozambique was my series highlight. We always like filming in Africa, and it was actually a great story, too. No one tells you what you can’t do in Africa. It’s a blessed relief from, say, Switzerland, where you can’t do anything.
What’s the biggest change in format from series one?
The studio tent is now right on my doorstep [in the Cotswolds]. It doesn’t travel. I can go to work in my dressing gown.
- Richard Hammond’s crash will feature in first episode of The Grand Tour season 2
- Jeremy Clarkson and James May endure ‘US makeover’ to prepare for The Grand Tour series 2
- Richard and Mindy Hammond on his life-threatening Grand Tour crash and escaping death for the second time
And the worst change?
Nicotine gum. I haven’t had a cigarette in three months. Life has no meaning or purpose any more. Rumours of my death, however, were wildly exaggerated. I was fine. It turned out to be double pneumonia. It was in both lungs, but I was fine.
Favourite car from the series?
I’m tempted to say the Ford GT. We drove from New York to Niagara Falls in it, so I’ve driven it through Manhattan. That was comfy… and you can’t really see out of it either. But when you get out on the freeway, it’s pretty spectacular.
And what about your favourite city?
I love driving in Rome, because every traffic light is the start of a grand prix. Even the walnut-faced peasant in his ancient Fiat Ritmo is going to take you on, no matter what you’re in.
Was there a particular car that you wanted but couldn’t get?
Not this series. It used to happen 20 years ago, and then people realised that what we do is good for “the car” as a whole. If you take away us and Top Gear, there’s nobody actually fighting the car’s corner. It’s all just Gary Lineker and his mates on Twitter – “Isn’t cycling great? Shouldn’t we all be on the bus? Isn’t the air dirty?” Nobody’s going, “But cars are great.”
Any hangovers this series?
When we’re filming, we don’t actually get trollied. We used to on [the touring show] Top Gear Live. Now, we’ll have a glass of wine with dinner, but you tend to have your mind on the job. When filming is over, however, we may have a few buckets of wine…
The Grand Tour or Top Gear?
I honestly haven’t seen Top Gear since it rebooted. You know, when somebody has a baby adopted, they don’t go and peer through the windows of the house. That’s how it feels for me: that was my baby, it got taken away and I don’t particularly want to see what its new parents are doing with it.
Are you happy to have dodged the BBC salary reveal?
Why do people want to know how much people are being paid? I don’t particularly want to know how much Gary Lineker earns. The gender pay gap is ridiculous, though. You’ve got two people sitting on the sofa doing exactly the same job and the one with breasts is paid half as much – why? That’s madness.
Is the future really driverless cars?
You know Death Road in Bolivia, the one we drove in Top Gear? Huge drops, very narrow. To anyone who brings out a driverless car, I will say to the managing director, “Right, you let it drive you up Death Road.” If they’re prepared to do that, I’ll buy one. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t end up with one. I don’t think in my lifetime we’ll be seeing autonomous cars in any great numbers on the road.
Dream location for series three?
With the BBC, we could never go to Iran – it didn’t even allow the wildly political Ski Sunday in. But we can go now; it’s somewhere I’d really like to go. It’s a fantastic job, this: most people have to get cancer before they do their bucket list. But we’ve been doing our bucket list for years.
The Grand Tour is on Amazon Prime Video from Friday 8th December