How Richard Hammond had to deal with May and Clarkson before Top Gear in ‘demanding job’

Richard Hammond recalls first time meeting James and Jeremy

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The Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond, 51, recalled first crossing paths with James May, 58, and Jeremy Clarkson, 60, when he hosted them at events. Ahead of his big break on Top Gear, the former worked in PR for Renault. The father-of-two began by joking he was the “last one standing” at events during his role as a publicist, before he was screen tested for a job on Top Gear.

On meeting his co-stars for the first time, he said of James: “I’ll be honest I used to make a beeline for him. We had a great time.”

BBC Radio 5 Live host Nihal Arthanayake then asked if he was one of the “geeky” journalists who went to bed early.

“Absolutely not,” he laughed.

Nihal added: “No need to ask what Jeremy Clarkson was…”

“Yeah exactly, not brilliant,” Richard replied, laughing. “There’s different approaches. It’s a very demanding job.”

When asked if the pair had recognised him at events, he added: “James did, but I didn’t host Jeremy that much. We sort of crossed over because he wasn’t doing Top Gear in the period when I was at Renault, so I didn’t really have a cause to meet him, whereas James was doing Driven and shows like that.

“It’s a small world you see.”

Richard was recruited for Top Gear by Jeremy and producer Andy Wilman.

Jeremy previously discussed how the line-up consisting of him, James and Richard formed.

The presenter said he and Andy had plans to revamp the show and contacted James as he was a fan of his writing.

He then joked he found James in Bath “drinking meths and rambling at passers-by” before they sobered him up and discussed the deal.

“We managed to get him sobered up and cleaned up, got him into his hideous clothing and the rest is history,” he added in an interview with JOE.

“It did work very well, I knew James a bit.”

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Jeremy went on to point out that the original plan was for James to replace him, but then they scrapped the idea.

On when he first met Richard, he said their first meeting was “more conventional” than it was with James.

“He was screen tested, I had this idea when we were doing this show.

“Hammond came in and then I didn’t see him for quite some time because he’s so low down,” he joked of his height.

The presenter added his now co-star then made a joke about where he was from and he “gave him the job immediately”.

“What people don’t realise about Richard is how funny he is,” he added.

“It’s just annoying when you turn the cameras on he’s not funny at all, but as soon as you turn them off he’s hilarious, one of the funniest people I’ve ever met – he’s good company.

“Until he gets to his eight gin and tonic then he gets a bit blurry.”

The trio now present Amazon show The Grand Tour together as well as their own respective projects.

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