Yesterday's News, Today: Clarkson’s Cortina Spotted on Home Turf!
Doncaster, South Yorkshire (that’s in the North-ish bit of England to my American followers) has many claims to fame. The town’s football team, affectionately known as ‘Donnie Rovers’ for starters. Providing you’re a fan. And it being the birthplace of one-fifth of all-conquering boy band, One Direction. The one with the hair, who is known to be a good dribbler and now judges other shit singers on the X Factor.
The town has a proud history of mining and brass bands too, while also being recognised as the home to one of the world’s oldest horse racing courses. What’s more, The Doncaster Cup is acknowledged as the oldest horse race in the world (and the St Leger Stakes, the oldest classic horse race).
But none of this tells us about Doncaster’s rightful place in motoring history, which is the whole premise of this post.
So, and for those who weren’t aware, Jeremy Clarkson (would-be pensioner with impressive cardigan collection, known to create motoring programs for TV) hails from Doncaster. Well, a place just outside of Doncaster geographically-speaking, called Burghwallis. More than that, he was also schooled in the immediate area; where it was believed he returned just this week.
As we all know the third season of the Grand Tour is currently being wrapped up in the tent-cum-studio somewhere (probably in the rolling hills/back garden of Jezza’s Cotswoldian manor again, if he’s got his own way), so it’s only a matter of weeks before the latest show is launched on Amazon Prime. And yes, I did try to bag tickets for the studio recording to repeat my good fortune of the first season (when I made the pilgrimage to another northern outpost, Whitby to sit front row for an episode’s filming in 2016). This time, I didn’t make the final cut, alas. Like the loca tipple, I'm not bitter though, mind.
But Not for the First Time, I Digress……
According to the chip papers found floating around Doncaster's streets today, Clarkson was ‘understood’ to be filming a top secret feature in his birthplace, as TV crews were clocked setting up their equipment outside the former Top Gear host’s former school in his former home town. Although there was no actual ‘spotting’ of Jeremy himself, what gave the game away was the recurrent sighting of what the local rag referred to as a ‘retro Ford Cortina’. And not just any old ‘retro Ford Cortina’. But a ‘retro Ford Cortina’ bearing the distinctive number plate, JCC 868J.
Which to the more observant/clued-up of you might ring a bell, on account of the letters standing for Jeremy Charles Clarkson. That said, you might have thought that Clarkson would have learnt his lesson about being closely associated with ambiguous car registration plates, after that whole Patagonia Porsche 928 debacle during the winding-down of his TG career. However this time around, there’s less potential people to rile I guess. What with Yorkshire folk being known for their sense of humour and Whippets.
Speaking of lessons in life, said ‘retro Ford Cortina’ was parked up outside the Rutland House Conference Centre, which when Jezza was a nipper was once the site of Hill House school which he attended as a pupil. Again, according to the journos with local knowledge of Doncaster, of which I'm neither.
So, what we can gather from this scene – and looking at the circumstantial evidence which includes a ‘retro Ford Cortina', a former Doncaster school, a subtle hint of the 1960s and a private number plate which alludes to Clarkson - is the following. The Grand Tour was filming a throwback scene for part of the upcoming – and much-anticipated - third season. And that's pretty much your lot.
As to what innocent bystanders thought of the scenes being created, one – who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being accused of having an opinion - told the local paper; “It is top secret. No one seems to know much about what is going on.” The excitement then, clearly palpable in and around Donnie. All we know is that he’s called Clarkson, and the resultant feature will doubtless/hopefully offend someone, somewhere.
Credit: Doncaster Free Press, whose original reporting this was. And which/who I should mention otherwise face years of incarceration for a crime I didn't commit. Just like the A-Team before me.