Forget Line of Duty or Game of Thrones, The Grand Tour series 3 finale served up a bigger surprise than either of them. Jeremy Clarkson crying – twice.
Clarkson, Hammond and May's final ever episode in the Grand Tour tent was emotional for the presenters as they realised the show they've been making for the last 16 years – the studio audience, the lap times, Conversation Street – was coming to an end.
The trio will continue working together on Prime Video with more of their travel adventure specials coming in 2020, but for fans who have grown up watching the team develop the format from the early days of Top Gear to the globe-trotting antics of the Grand Tour, there was a definite end of an era feel about the episode.
Adding to emotion of the occasion was an extended documentary film from the presenters dedicated to the history of Ford saloons in the UK – and in particular the only vehicle that the trio have ever agreed they all love – the Mondeo.
Here are five reasons this week's Grand Tour finale is a must-watch:
1. The Ford history lesson
The impending demise of the Ford Mondeo sparks a brilliant extended documentary from the presenters this week as they look back through the history or Ford in Britain.
From the Cortina in the 60s and 70s, to the Cosworth in the 80s and finally the Mondeo in the 90s, the presenters are finally all in agreement about something.
Pitched as a memorial to a totem of British life, the film is a magnificent social history lesson.
2. Clarkson in tears
Clarkson went back to his old school and talked us through his emotions the day that his father rocked up to pick him up with a new Ford Cortina and we’re pretty sure that was a tear, we saw the presenter wiping off his cheek.
As he talked about his pride, shock and love for that car, viewers got a vision of the precise moment that a young JC fell in love with motor cars forever.
3. Richard Hammond goes full Basil Fawlty
While Clarkson and May got all misty-eyed and romantic about their fathers bringing home Cortinas when they were children, Richard Hammond was back in Birmingham feeling a very different sent of emotions.
Remembering how he felt, when his dad turned up with a “shoulder sagging bag of disappointment, the Austin Allegro Estate”, Hammond howled: “What was my father thinking?”
Rather than taking it for a spin, Hammond took out a bat and went full Basil Fawlty on the vehicle, smashing it up and taking out all his childhood disappointment and embarrassment on the not-so-classic car.
4. Clarkson in tears… again
If there was a brief sniffle earlier, this was a fully blown, soggy, ugly cry-fest from Clarkson. As he told the studio audience that the Grand Tour tent was being packed away for good, he could barely get his words out. It was a strange sight for a man famed for his bravado and posturing.
Clarkson was crying, audience members were crying and Hammond and May looked heartbroken. Most TV shows are churned out like a production line and after 16 years, you would typically expect an element of relief that it was over.
But the genuine friendship between the presenters, their fans and the passion, sweat and tears they've put into making Top Gear and the Grand Tour came pouring out in this moment.
5. The goodbye montage
To say that things ended frostily between Clarkson and Top Gear is a severe understatement. So it was heartwarming to see that things might have thawed between the two parties, as the closing montage of the series included a mix of footage of The Grand Tour and Top Gear.
The retrospective on the last 16 years of Clarkson, Hammond and May perfectly captured the chemistry, humour and dramatic changes in Richard Hammond’s hair over the last two decades.
The Grand Tour is available on Prime Video now
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