What does the name Andy Wilman mean to you?
Probably nothing at first.
He sounds like he could be anyone, your fake newsagent, your mailman.
Now picture Jeremy Clarkson saying the following: “I wonder what Mr. Wilman has in store for us today?”
Any fan of Top Gear or The Grand Tour will immediately know who I am talking about.
Or maybe you won’t.
Because although Andy Wilman’s name has been mentioned at the biggest car shows on the planet for the past 20 years, no one really knows who he is.
Let me lift the lid.
Wilman is Clarkson’s right-hand man. His wingman. The genius producer behind our favorite Top Gear and The Grand Tour adventures.
And now Clarkson’s ranch. He appeared in the early episodes of Top Gear in the 90s, only 100% accurate.
But this is not a friendship forged through lucrative TV contracts. Wilman and Clarkson go back to their school days. They are very tight. Properly tight.
You can tell by the way Wilman talks about his partner.
Wilman was discussing Carnage A Trois – the new special Grand Tour on French cars – when I asked him to shed some light on why Clarkson is so popular.
It’s a long answer but he nailed it all anyway.
Wilman said: “Are you looking for Clarkson to run for Prime Minister?
“We went to the same school and if you wanted to be popular or liked by the girls while you were in school in the Seventies, you had to be good at sports or in trouble.
“And he loves sports. So he has a choice.
“And then when we get into trouble, I think, at our best, we’ll say Top Gear and The Grand Tour, if the papers on our case by Monday morning, Mirror, Mail, or whatever, that we’re going to explode with rage about X, Y, and Z.
To be popular in school, you have to be good at sports or have a hard time. Jezza loves sports.
“I think 90% of the time we ignore it because it’s always done with a bit of charm. That’s the important thing. And we learned that in school.
“To get in trouble at a public school in the Seventies and not get kicked out, you really had to do it with some enchantment, for you to be forgiven.
“You learn that you have to do it with a smile on your face.
“Then that pairing to him was a natural expression of his love for print.
“He found that out very early on when he was finally booted out of Repton. He found his home while working at the Rotherham Advertiser.
“He has never lost his love of tabloid journalism. It runs through everything we do today. It was shot through the Farm and everything.
“He is very strict about storytelling. And most of all, he’s a great communicator.
“He knows that self-doubt works. He knows that if you’re in trouble today, it’s chip paper tomorrow. So he doesn’t go to bed worrying about things like that.
“And his feet are on the ground. He knows what is what.
“And then he’s smart enough to show the passion, which I think we see on the Ranch.
Grand Tour is a toy box for car aficionados and 9 year olds. More serious farm.
“When Kaleb b ***** with him for the first time, when he made a mistake in victory, he didn’t expect it.
“But you can see on his face, he knows in about two seconds to keep quiet and get it to his chin, because he knows it’s a great television.
“He makes a great living by looking like a rooster with two left thumbs but he’s actually incredibly bright.
“He knows The Grand Tour is a toy box for car aficionados and nine-year-olds. And the Farm will always be something more serious and different.
“And as I say, as the head of his press, he is always active. He knows which way to go.
“But The Farm is underpinned by this truth, ‘This is my farm. I will try to try. I knew I had to learn ‘.
“You don’t have those mindsets when doing The Grand Tour. You think about how you will entertain people.
“While at the Farm, he thought, ‘This really encapsulates my life.
“He’s not thick. Farmers are having a hard time. He knows he has to walk through where he shows what farming is like, but everyone knows he has a few quids.
“He was paid with The Grand Tour. He’s a Millionaire. He won’t take everything away if something happens.
Judgment of Jezza
The clue is the name, really: Carnage A Trois. Three friends vandalize (most) French cars.
I don’t think I’m giving too much when I say that a Citroen 2CV dropped from a helicopter and a Citroen C3 Pluriel was last seen heading towards France via a trebuchet (giant catapult) .
There’s also a sizzling hot race at Lyised Hill cycle track and some real affection for the weird and fun French classics.
“We tried to look at the oddities of French cars,” says Clarkson. We live in a homogenous world. Everything is the same, everyone eats at McDonald’s, everyone has an iPhone.
“And the French, they don’t think like us – and when I say ‘we’ I mean the rest of the world. They have different regulations, different regulations, and this is evident in their cars
“French cars have always been a strange thing.
“The strange thing is that neither Richard Hammond nor I – and we’ve owned Italian cars, Japanese cars, American cars, British cars, Swedish cars, German cars, obviously – have never French car ownership. There was no May until very recently, but James is weird.
“The auto race is really the best we’ve ever done. It was a great shot and very entertaining.
“The problem with Lyised Hill is, even amateurs like Hammond and I can be completely calm.
“There were a few stunts. Lots of useful tips, such as how to defuse a bomb behind a BMW.
“And there was Citroen SM, we had to sit down and drool because it was so pretty.”
“So what he had to do then was highlight the circumstances, but on behalf of other farmers, who don’t have the Amazon crew and what have you.”
When I suggested that Clarkson was one of the hardest working people I know – I used to curate his Saturday Sun column – Wilman couldn’t resist digging in a little, like a man. real life partner.
“He spends about an hour a day reminding you that he doesn’t have any hours in the day,” says Wilman.
“He’ll be back in an hour if he stops reminding everyone in a drama queen fashion about how much he has to do. ‘I have to do this’. And it continues.
“But he was driving. Completely controlled. He is like a force of nature that goes through everything. If he’s drinking at a party, he’ll clear the bar, that sort of thing. Not much censorship. “
Perhaps we should end with a few thoughts on Carnage A Trois.
It’s very different. No road trips. There is no adventure. And it was filmed in the UK because of Covid.
However, it quickly found the groove and it’s a great homage to French car culture.
Make it, the weird French car culture. And a lot of cars are still wrecked, blown up or dropped from helicopters.
“I think it could be a little bit of Marmite,” said Wilman. I think the fans in the lane would go, ‘What the hell?’. But I hope they go, ‘Actually, if you like cars, there’s a ton of car stuff in here’.
“It was fun to do that. Jeremy absolutely loved that movie. ”
Almost as much as his best mate.
Thank you, Mr. Wilman.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/17050603/jeremy-clarkson-oaf-left-thumbs-andy-wilman/ The man behind his success says Jeremy Clarkson made a great living looking like a rooster with two left thumbs