LIZ JONES: Grumpy old men sitting around in dad jeans... that's great TV?
This isn’t a review of the much-anticipated The Grand Tour, the multi-million-pound reincarnation of Top Gear launched by Amazon on Friday. Lots of men have already been busy filing their copy on that one: finally, something they can understand.
No, I’m much more interested in what this programme says about the first generation of men to ‘grow up’ (I use inverted commas because these men never really grew up) having missed a war, and alongside women with careers and minds of their own.
This generation of men – those born between 1945 and 1960 – became what my dad called long-haired layabouts: they dabbled in drugs, drink and Led Zeppelin, melting their brains when they should have reached the stage where they learned DIY and how to fight Germans. They are obsolete.
To sum up for women who are too busy running the world to watch it, this is basically a TV show about old men sitting down
This 12-part series (hooray! 12 whole hours when we can park our men in front of the electronic babysitter) is for those who don’t even know how to start a lawnmower.
It’s a multi-million–pound televisual garden shed.
To sum up for women who are too busy running the world to watch it, this is basically a TV show about old men sitting down.
Because that is precisely what this generation of men do: they recline, occasionally moving their arms, on sofas, in armchairs and behind the wheel of their ego-machines.
This is a TV show about hypercars that cost a million pounds for the titillation of men who won’t even pay for dinner without grizzling.
This is a show about Ferraris with fewer emissions than a family car to make up for the fact the drivers emit more methane than a cow. (I love the way Jeremy Clarkson spits out the words ‘polar bear’; it’s as though he’s just discovered he’s lost a crown on his tooth).
This is a TV show where men (sitting down in cars) are hoisted into the air by helicopters, and career down vertical slopes in the desert, as a substitute for the sex they are not having with their long-suffering wives – as we don’t like old men in plaid shirts with unkempt grey hair and pot bellies.
Men want a car that makes them ‘poo their pants’ (as Hammond says so eloquently in the first episode)
This is a TV show where men (sitting down in cars) are hoisted into the air by helicopters, and career down vertical slopes in the desert
These are men whose definition of looking smart when they are forced to stop reclining and go out somewhere nice is to place a blazer atop a pair of high-waisted dad jeans.
This is a TV show with mournful sexual innuendo dripping from every exhaust pipe. Clarkson describes the Porsche 918 as being so boring it’s like the missionary position, which is perverse, given there is no longer anything in their trousers worth talking about – illustrated nicely by James May unzipping a red million-pound hybrid Ferrari from a lorry instead.
These men cantilever their bodies into the driving seat because it’s the only place in the world they feel safe.
The Grand Tour has everything men can possibly want. Even the fact it’s streamed over the internet, not broadcast in the traditional sense, means there are nice little buffering sojourns when male viewers can scratch their undercarriage or stand in the doorway having a fag.
There is even trivia popping up on screen (such as, the Porsche Spyder has a 4.6 litre engine, or, IPAS stands for Integrated Power Assist System) so they can kid themselves they know stuff.
The three hosts are rude to everyone, which is exactly how old men are: cantankerous.
These men cantilever their bodies into the driving seat because it’s the only place in the world they feel safe
This is a TV show about hypercars that cost a million pounds for the titillation of men who won’t even pay for dinner without grizzling
The Grand Tour sums up why men and women can’t live together successfully: men want a car that makes them ‘poo their pants’ (as Hammond says so eloquently in the first episode), thus creating us more washing; women merely want to be able to fit the Labrador and the Tesco carrier bags in the boot.
Last week, I went with an old flame to the Simonstone Hall hotel in the Yorkshire Dales for lunch. There is a plaque on the wall that states: ‘Here lies the BBC career of Jeremy Clarkson who had a fracas on this spot.’
I sent my ex up to the bar to order, so at least he could be helpful if not attractive. (This is a man who thinks the fact he drives a classic Merc is enough to get women into bed; it’s not. Losing three stone would be a better idea). He returned moments later. ‘They’ve stopped doing food,’ he said.
‘Did you punch anyone?’ I asked him, a diehard Top Gear fan, the sort of know-it-all whose only education is back-to-back Brian Coxes.
‘No, but I did buy you a bag of crisps.’ You see? All motor. No trousers.
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