Edinburgh TV Fest: Former 'Top Gear' Producer Says "Everything Went to Shit" at BBC
Andy Wilman also discussed 'The Grand Tour,' his new motoring show with Jeremy Clarkson at Amazon.
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, former Top Gear producer Andy Wilman — who left the show after his long-term collaborator Jeremy Clarkson was fired for punching a producer in early 2015 — was in town to discuss The Grand Tour, his new big-budget motoring show with the SVOD giant. But it was inevitable that he'd be questioned on the situation that led to him leaving his old position, and he didn't hold back.
"I think it was a perfect storm that was coming. That show got bigger and bigger. We were collapsing under the weight of the work we were doing," Wilman said. "Some people [at the BBC] weren't great with us and didn't want us there. It became confrontational. When everything went to shit in March, that was the crux point. Some didn't have the will to make it work on the management side. I didn't have the maturity to make it work, to mend it. We were all entrenched."
As to what the BBC should have done with Clarkson, Wilman suggests the BBC should have hit him with "big fines."
Instead, Wilman and Clarkson, plus co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond, left the show, signing a deal with Amazon estimated to be worth some $250 million, a figure the producer described as "bollocks."
Footage from the show — due out in the fall (Amazon's Roy Price refused to offer a definite launch date) — was shown in Edinburgh, featuring the same international motoring hijinx that Top Gear was known for.
However, Wilman revealed that there had been extensive involvement in the legal team to ensure The Grand Tour didn't copy elements from his old show. In one episode, the new show goes to Namibia, meaning lawyers had to pore over a similar episode of Top Gear, requesting that Clarkson didn't say "this is beautiful" while admiring a view.
Wilman said the alternative line used was "for legal reasons, this scenery is shit."