I found the first episode almost unwatchable. That’s nothing to do with the content; merely because I don’t have a TV with a USB port for a Firestick thingamajig, or an Xbox, or a Smart TV, so had to sit at my desk watching my laptop. Such a shame to watch such impressive cinematic production values on a tiny screen which keeps switching itself off if you don’t prod the mouse every five minutes. It didn’t feel much like progress.
Brilliant though much of the first episode was (*sigh of relief*), particularly when Clarkson scared himself with the McLaren P1 at the end of the pit straight, it was surprising to see the old heavily scripted dialogue in the studio/tent between the three presenters, which, as usual, failed to assert itself as off-the-cuff-banter between three mates: Clarkson manages it, but Hammond just can’t do it. It was a huge sigh of relief to cut to the 918 Spyder and the start of the car stuff in Portugal. If only the Grand Tour had started by jettisoning any audience time, and nods to celebrity interviews.
The rest of the series will undoubtedly be worth watching for the locations, the million-pound shoots, the humour, the adventure, the japes and the craic. It’s still the perfect antidote to health and safety, the nanny state, public offence, political correctness, diplomacy, subtlety, globalisation, foreign relations, discretion, technology, vegetarianism, Brighton, hipsters, maturity and restrained language (I note, like naughty schoolboys, the urge to use the full gamut of four-letter swear words now they’re not constrained by the BBC has proved overwhelming).
What’s far more interesting, is the launch on Monday of DriveTribe, The Grand Tour’s social media spin-off (which will surely become the main player in the game before much longer).
If you haven’t heard about it, the basic thesis is that it’s somewhere between a forum and a social-network site, with everything connecting to the glorious world of cars. You join via your Facebook profile, and then are encouraged to join a minimum of six tribes. Obviously each Grand Tour presenter has a tribe. Click on one, and you can peruse all the content they’ve posted, from pictures to articles. You can share content but people will need to be members of DriveTribe to open the links. Likes are called “bumps” on the site.
You can create your own tribe, or post comments on another leader’s tribe, or post entire bits of content on the tribes that are open to all members.
Goodwood Road and Racing, for example, has a tribe, with Lord March as tribe leader, and yes, he does take a keen interest. Take a look on Monday and see what you think. It’s my feeling that DriveTribe may kick The Grand Tour into the long grass as the more significant platform for motoring content, with a larger audience and better stories to tell.