Richard Hammonds admits he cried over Top Gear job offer
Richard Hammond discusses his love for classic cars on GMB
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Opening up in the Diary of CEO podcast he admitted he burst into tears before “cracking open the champagne” with his wife Mindy, when he got the unexpected call from BBC bosses. Recalling the life changing call over two decades earlier, he explained: “It was mad, I’d done car shows, I’d done radio for years. Moved to the South…and after years and years and years of doing that, I auditioned for Top Gear and got the job.”
Hammond, 53, also admitted he left BBC auditions “feeling sad” as he had a gut feeling that Top Gear was going to be “amazing” but felt he “wasn’t going to be part of it” as he hadn’t got the job.
It wasn’t until months later he got the call offering him his dream job.
He added: “Initially I cried, I had a bottle of champagne with my wife. This was it!
“I’d spent my whole life trying to do that so it was a huge moment.”
As Hammond joined BBC bosses and co-star Jeremy Clarkson to hash out plans for the “new car shop” he admits it didn’t take them long to “tear up” the Top Gear rule book.
Recalling the meeting he explained: “We just thought, we’ll make a car show. These are the ground rules of Top Gear, it’s about cars that people really buy…no super cars, no foreign travel, we’re only gonna drive proper cars in this country and then that didn’t last very long at all!
“We realised that’s not what we wanted to make.
“We never came up with an exact science. We just made the best car show we could.”
The father-of-two admitted part of the beauty of the show was its wider appeal and you didn’t have to be “car nerds” to watch it.
Speaking after the first series aired, former executive producer Andy Wilman told Top Gear magazine: “It was about this time we had another visit from the BBC Meddling Department, who told us that market research showed our show was attracting young, lifestyle, trendy viewers to BBC Two.
“So perhaps we should think about getting a young, lifestyle, trendy presenter.
“Ever keen to assist, we searched high and low and eventually came up with just the man – James May.”
Together with incoming presenter May, who joined in second series replacing Jason Dawe, the trio became a formidable force.
Hammond surmised they were three “misshapen blokes talking about their passion”.
Fortunately the BBC were better at promoting the show than its co-star and it wasn’t long before it became the biggest car show on TV.
Hammond and May also decided to cut ties with the show with May finding the concept of continuing alongside a “surrogate Jeremy” would be “forced” and “lame”.
The trio later launched The Grand Tour together the following year.
Hammond is the CEO of podcast Drive Tribe and host of Richard Hammond’s Workshop.
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