Sir Jeremy? You only have to look me up on Wikipedia to see that’s a non-starter, says ClarksonNovember 30, 2020
THEY are household names who made their fortunes by travelling the world and driving the fastest of cars in front of an adoring crowd of millions.
But there is one small difference between Grand Tour host Jeremy Clarkson and Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton — the latter is about to become a knight.
TV presenter and Sun columnist Jeremy says his own notoriety and divisive views mean he will never get to kneel before the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
In fact, despite Lewis being involved in controversial but legal tax-saving schemes including living in Monaco rather than the UK, Jeremy says there’s not a chance that he himself will get even an MBE.
In an exclusive chat with The Sun, the presenter said: “I think you only have to look on Wikipedia and go, ‘No, not this one’.
“I’m hardly a model citizen. I just can’t in my wildest dreams imagine anybody’s going to sit there and go, ‘Queen’s Honours, I think Jeremy Clarkson’.
"I just can’t hear those words being spoken in an oak-panelled room in Whitehall.
“I’d rather it went to a lollipop lady.”
Last week The Sun revealed that Formula 1 champion Lewis, 35, would be honoured, even after he saved £3.3million in tax by registering a £16.5million private jet on the Isle of Man in 2013.
He also lives in tax haven Monaco, although he is now one of the top 5,000 taxpayers in the UK.
Jeremy is the first to admit that some of his past comments, particularly while hosting Top Gear on the BBC, attracted a lot of controversy.
But despite often sailing very close to the wind alongside co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, he says he did stop his former bosses making one momentous decision — to switch the show from BBC2 to BBC1.
It is a move that Beeb chiefs have just made, with Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris now presenting the series.
Jeremy revealed: “They asked 20 times a year and I always said, ‘No, no, you’ll kill it in five seconds flat if you do that. As long as you keep it on BBC2 it feels a little bit special, you’ve got to go searching for it’.
“I know you don’t really have to go searching for it, you just push ‘two’, but it felt as though it was a niche show, not a light entertainment show.
“When you’re on BBC1, eight o’clock, you’re making a statement. You’re an entertainment show. And entertainment shows come and go.
“We wanted it to last for a very long time so we said, ‘No, you mustn’t do that, keep it niche, keep it as a car show on BBC2’.”
For now, Jeremy, Richard and James are focusing on The Grand Tour, their hugely successful Amazon Prime series that has kept them at the top of motoring telly since the trio left the Beeb in 2015.
In the latest epic 90-minute episode, cheekily titled A Massive Hunt, the boys search for pirate treasure in Madagascar.
It is out on December 18, so surely it could be classed as a Christmas special?
Jeremy said: “I wouldn’t call it a Christmas special, in that it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. But it is being transmitted around the Christmas period, yes.”
Coronavirus has heavily delayed its release on Amazon Prime Video, making it a year since the previous episode.
And unlike their last adventure, which saw them tackle the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia in boats, this time fans will see them in a familiar setting — in cars.
Jeremy opted for a gas-guzzling Bentley, after buying one himself, rather than an environmentally friendly electric car.
But he insists he is being more responsible by choosing the classic British brand, as he says those who buy hybrid cars “support child slave labour”.
He said: “I’m a little more responsible than that socially. It was difficult to use cars on the Mekong River but we are back in cars, clowning around and laughing at one another’s downfalls, which were plentiful.”
Richard chose a Ford Focus RS, while James went for a Caterham kit car, which left him exposed to the elements of the East African island’s treacherous makeshift roads.
Richard said: “Why is James covered in mud always so funny?
“On my telephone I have so many pictures I’ve grabbed over the years where we get to the end of a particularly tough stretch, James just looks spectacularly funny covered in mud. I don’t know why it is.”
In the new episode the trio constantly wind each other up, with Jeremy and Richard repeatedly activating a “kill switch” on the outside of James’s car, which cuts off the power.
There are also multiple gags about Brexit as they visit Reunion island, which is a French overseas territory, and survival expert Bear Grylls is a regular target.
James said: “Maybe it’s because they’re easy things to make cheap jokes about. The Bear Grylls thing we’ve been doing for quite a long time.
"Brexit I suppose because it was something we all broadly agreed on.
“I think it winds people up. We’re just being ar*es really.”
Lockdown restrictions not only delayed this episode but also threaten future plans.
Earlier this year they planned to film in Russia but opted not to go, rather wisely in hindsight, just before the world shut down.
But they did manage to squeeze in a few days in Scotland in September and October, so fans can look forward to another bonus episode too.
James said: “I do believe in that showbiz mantra about leaving the audience wanting more.
“But actually it’s a deeply unpleasant experience to have quite a bit of time apart before we come together again, as we did to make our Scotland film.
“It is quite stimulating because you’re sort of up for it and ready to be rude about those blokes again because you haven’t had a chance for months.
“And I think we’ve done a good film in Scotland as well. We had that hunger back and we were ready to do it again — to exploit the relationship, should we say?”
And with the trio all suffering health problems in recent years — Jeremy had pneumonia, Richard was in a high-speed crash and James has revealed how he is now “falling apart” — it would be understandable if they packed it all in soon.
In fact James has started to look after himself, and it showed in the latest episode which was recorded a year ago.
He said: “We do look quite healthy. I was outdoors most of the time for that film, slept indoors occasionally, but the rest of the time I was out in the fresh air.
“I was doing quite vigorous stuff. I was climbing in and out of my car, and pulling on ropes, we ate reasonably healthily by our standards, which are not very high.
“We do look quite trim and healthy. We look s**t now.”
All three have other shows on Amazon that require less effort and travel, with James hosting a cookery show and Jeremy making one about his farm in the Cotswolds.
But they all insist they will be carrying on for as long as possible.
Richard said: “The world is enormous and, don’t forget, it’s changing. We are always story-led — we’re dragged wherever we’ve gone to look at something, see something, try and find something, try and connect one place to another.
“That’s a process that’s endless and is open to reinterpretation.
"Probably ten years from now we could revisit a lot of the places we’ve been but with a different mindset because it’s a story over the top of it that takes you there.
"So that’s always going to change, it’s always going to refresh.
“It won’t be ideas and places that put a stop to us.”
And Jeremy, still defiant against the “woke” critics who hate their travels, says he has a bottomless pit of episodes in mind, and there are enough people interested to justify the show.
He said: “Limitless ideas. It’s a good format — us three travelling around the world in cars and blowing stuff up is a good format.
“There are a few woke people who go, ‘Oh well, what about the polar bear?’
"But for every woke person there are a couple of million who don’t think like that. Which is good for us.”
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