James May claims The Grand Tour will walk the fine line between progressiveness and defiant familiarity when it returns to Amazon Prime in December.
The show has previously drawn criticism from more liberal quarters for its arguable use of ‘homophobic’ jokes, while Jeremy Clarkson himself recently issued a stinging riposte to the growing concept of cancel culture.
But the presenter, 58, insists the show will be sensitive to societal change while employing the dry wit that originally helped May, Clarkson and Richard Hammond develop an instant rapport with fans.
Balancing act: James May claims The Grand Tour will walk the fine line between progressiveness and defiant familiarity when it returns to Amazon Prime in December
Their latest series, The Grand Tour: Carnage a Trois, finds the trio in a race of their lives as they embrace French car culture, filmed in Wales as a consequence of travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the show’s divisive humour, May told the Daily Star and other outlets: ‘I hope we’re always careful about the jokes we make because we’re not actually trying to alienate people or offend people.
‘We make fun of people – that’s not quite the same thing. We try to be inclusive in that everybody is equally open for mockery and derision – mainly ourselves, let’s be honest.
Coming soon: The latest series, The Grand Tour: Carnage a Trois, finds the trio in a race of their lives as they embrace French car culture
‘So I’m not aware that we made any crass homophobic jokes or comments. I hope we didn’t, but I’ll have to look back at it.’
He added: ‘I don’t think we’re running scared of cancel culture and all the rest of it but I suppose unconsciously and just like everybody else in the world, we’re probably reassessing how we think about things, which is no bad thing in my view because society is a work in progress and it must always move on.
‘So we’re not entrenched. We haven’t dug ourselves in and said, ‘No, we’re living in the 1970s with 1970s attitudes, make us a cup of tea, love.’ We’re not doing that. We’re actually quite modern people, I think.
‘Except for Richard Hammond, who is obviously stuck in about 1955 in his E-Type Jaguar. But yes, on the whole, we’re reasonably progressive, I hope.’
Not happy: In October singer Will Young was left ‘shocked and upset’ after the presenter made ‘offensive jokes’ while Jeremy Clarkson drove a pink Jeep Wrangler in the Colombia special, prompting a furious tirade on social media platform Twitter
In October former Pop Idol star Will Young hit out at host Richard Hammond for making what he viewed as homophobic jokes after he watched an episode of the Amazon series.
The singer, 42, was left ‘shocked and upset’ after the presenter, 51, made ‘offensive jokes’ while Jeremy Clarkson drove a pink Jeep Wrangler in the Colombia special, prompting a furious tirade on social media platform Twitter.
In an interview with The Times, Will said Jeremy was ‘the least of his problems’ and that Hammond was actually the ‘worst one’.
Furious: The former Pop Idol star hit out at host Richard Hammond for making what he viewed as homophobic jokes after he watched an episode of the Amazon series
He said: ‘Clarkson is the least worst. The worst one is Richard Hammond… because he says things like “I’ve got lots of gay friends”.
‘The producers chose to make the main narrative ‘Jeremy Clarkson is driving a hairdresser’s car. Basically, Jeremy Clarkson is gay. They had him wearing a pink shirt. They spray the car pink. They have him playing It’s Raining Men.
‘Clarkson was the least of my problems. It was Richard Hammond and it was the producers. They created the whole thing and it was Amazon that let it go out. I was so shocked and so upset.’
Opinionated: Clarkson has since lashed out at cancel culture, claiming the changing tide in what it deemed appropriate or funny is a backward step
Will went on to tell The Times that he had previously defended the presenters of The Grand Tour on Twitter but insisted Richard should ‘take responsibility’ for his comments.
When the Colombia special was broadcast in 2019, Richard denied allegations he was homophobic, saying: ‘I entirely reject any criticism of me being anti-gay.’
Clarkson has since lashed out at cancel culture, claiming the changing tide in what it deemed appropriate or funny is a backward step.
He told the Daily Star: ‘You’re on borrowed time and soon you’ll get a tap on the shoulder from the HR Stasi. I speak often to my friends about this and all of them are frightened to death.
New series: The Grand Tour: Carnage a Trois airs on Amazon Prime on December 17
‘They know that if they continue to eat and do and say whatever they’ve eaten and done and said for the past 40 years they’re going to be out of a job.
‘And even if they don’t they’ll still be out on their ear for having eaten and said and done it back in 1974.’
He added: ‘All we can do, then, in a world where you’re guilty until proven innocent, and then you’re still guilty, is tiptoe through life trying to get as much hay in the barn as possible so that when we’re kicked into touch it’s not completely the end of the world.’
The Grand Tour returns to Amazon Prime on December 17.