'Relieved' Jeremy Clarkson thanks fans after Grand Tour receives rave reviews
Jeremy Clarkson has thanked fans and critics for the positive response for his new motoring show The Grand Tour.
The first episode of the former Top Gear host's new TV effort became available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, and the programme received rave reviews.
Clarkson wrote on Twitter: " Genuinely relieved and grateful today. Huge thanks to everyone who has sent messages."
His co-star James May also tweeted his thanks and said the team were all "relieved" at the response.
"Thank you to everyone who's been kind about our new car drama. We're flattered. And relieved," he wrote.
The first episode of The Grand Tour saw the presenters insist Clarkson was not "technically" fired from BBC's motoring show.
May and Richard Hammond joined him in the debut episode - titled The Holy Trinity - on Amazon Prime Video after parting ways with the BBC when Clarkson punched a producer.
The opening sequence - rumoured to have cost £2.5 million - saw Clarkson leave a shiny London office under storm clouds and take a black cab trip while listening to radio reports of his demise.
He boarded a plane to Los Angeles to join his sidekicks and they drove in a vast convoy with I Can See Clearly Now playing in the background to their own "Burning Van" festival in a Californian desert.
From the stage, they listed a string of jobs that Hammond and May have been fired from.
Hammond, who described Clarkson as "basically a shaved ape in a shirt", said the 56-year-old "technically is the only one of us never to be fired by anyone".
Clarkson replied: "The good thing is it's very unlikely I'm going to be fired now because we're on the internet, which means I could pleasure a horse ... dog?"
He went on to describe their roles in the series - where they will present each episode in a different country - as being like "gypsies".
"Only the cars we drive are going to be insured," he added.
The action-packed opening episode saw the trio test the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari sports cars on their new track in Portugal.
Clarkson gave Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon a bloody lip in a bust-up in March last year.
The presenter's contract was not renewed by the BBC and his co-hosts followed him to Amazon's subscription streaming service.
Clarkson issued a formal apology in a deal to settle a racial discrimination and personal injury claim.
Top Gear has remained on the BBC and a new series was presented by Chris Evans but he stepped down after just six episodes.
The show received criticism after co-host Matt LeBlanc and a rally driver performed "doughnuts" near the Cenotaph war memorial in London's Whitehall.
Hammond admitted they had all become quite emotional during filming for the first episode.
Appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said: "I'm not going to lie - we shot that bit, there's a moment when all three (of us) arrive... and because I'm the soft one, I was a bit choked and then we all confessed (it was emotional), the whole crew, it was a big moment, we'd been working towards it for a long time."
Amazon has refused to comment on speculation about how much their deal is worth or the rumoured big budget for the series.
Talking about the budget, Hammond said they had wanted to "make something that we're proud of" and added that "meant putting it all on screen, both financially and creatively, we worked hard to make it the best we can do".
The BBC's review of The Grand Tour described it as "uncomfortably hubristic", and hinted at a rivalry between Clarkson and May.
Arts editor Will Gompertz did, however, praise the scale of the production and said the programme seemed more suitable for the big screen rather than as a TV series.
He wrote: "The scale of the production, the quality of the cameras, the epic sweeping shots and the pastiches of old movies - it seemed the show was aimed at the big screen, not the telly.
"Or a mobile phone, which is how I imagine a lot of people will view it."
Of the former Top Gear hosts' entrance in the show, he said it was arrogant to have "a huge crowd of cheering fans" welcome them after an "over-the-top and opulent" opening scene.
He added: "There is no irony. It feels uncomfortably hubristic."
Clarkson, May and Hammond's presenting came under scrutiny as Gompertz said that May "seems more out of sorts".
He said that Clarkson's tongue-in-cheek banter about disliking his co-stars may have a "ring of truth" to it due to the chemistry between himself and May.
Hammond, he said, was the stand-out.
He wrote: "His energy, eagerness to please, and ability to crack genuinely funny off-the-cuff jokes (beyond those that are scripted) are a boon for the viewer, and, one would have thought, Clarkson, on whose shoulders and talent the show rests."