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Hammond at a <a href="/content/Bonhams" style="color:blue">Bonhams</a> Charity Auction in 2015
Hammond at a Bonhams Charity Auction in 2015

Richard Mark Hammond (born 19 December 1969) is an English presenter, writer, and journalist, best known for co-hosting the BBC Two car programme Top Gear from 2002 until 2015 with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

In 2016, Hammond began presenting The Grand Tour television series, produced by W. Chump & Sons. The show is co-presented with his former Top Gear co-hosts, Clarkson and May, as an exclusive distributed via Amazon Video to Amazon Prime customers.

In November 2016, Hammond, alongside the co-presenters of The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, launched the automotive social media website DriveTribe, where he regularly provides content on his tribe "Hammond's Fob Jockeys".[3]

He has also presented Brainiac: Science Abuse (2003–2008), Total Wipeout (2009–2012) and Planet Earth Live (2012).

Early life


Richard Mark Hammond was born on 19 December 1969 in Solihull, Warwickshire, and is the grandson of workers in the Birmingham car industry.[4][5] In the mid-1980s Hammond moved with his family (mother Eileen, father Alan, and younger brothers Andrew, writer of the 'Crypt' series, and Nicholas) to the North Yorkshire cathedral city of Ripon where his father ran a probate business in the market square. He attended Blossomfield Infant School in Solihull's Sharmans Cross district from the age of 3–7. Originally a pupil of Solihull School, a fee-paying boys' independent school, he moved to Ripon Grammar School, and from 1986 to 1988 attended Harrogate College of Art and Technology.

Career


After graduation, Hammond worked for several BBC radio stations, including Radio Cleveland, Radio York, Radio Cumbria, Radio Leeds, Radio Newcastle and Radio Lancashire, before auditioning for Top Gear.[6]

Hammond became a presenter on Top Gear in 2002, when the show began in its present format. He is sometimes referred to as "The Hamster" by fans and his co-presenters on Top Gear due to his name and comparatively small stature compared to May and Clarkson.[7] His nickname was further reinforced when on three separate occasions in series 7, he ate cardboard,[8] mimicking hamster-like behaviour.

Following a high-speed dragster crash while filming in September 2006 near York, Hammond returned in the first episode of series 9 (broadcast on 28 January 2007) to a hero's welcome, complete with dancing girls, aeroplane-style stairs and fireworks. The show also contained images of the crash, which had made international headlines, with Hammond talking through the events of the day after which the audience broke into spontaneous applause. Hammond then requested that the crash never be mentioned on the show again, though all three Top Gear presenters have since referred to it in jokes during the news segment of the programme. He told his colleagues, "The only difference between me now, and before the crash, is that I like celery now and I didn't before".[9]

Following the BBC's decision not to renew Clarkson's contract with the show on 25 March 2015,[10] Hammond's contract expired on 31 March.[11] In April he ruled out the possibility of continuing to present Top Gear, commenting via Twitter that "amidst all this talk of us 'quitting' or not: there's nothing for me to 'quit' not about to quit my mates anyway".[12] On 12 June 2015 the BBC confirmed that Top Gear will return with a 75-minute special, combining two unseen challenges featuring all three presenters from series 22, with studio links from Hammond and May. It aired in the UK on BBC Two on 28 June at 8 p.m, and in the United States on BBC America on 13 July at 9 p.m.

During filming of a Top Gear segment at the former RAF Elvington airbase near York on 20 September 2006, Hammond was injured in the crash of the jet-powered car he was piloting.[13][14][15] [] He was travelling at 288 mph (463 km/h) at the time of the crash.[16]

His vehicle, a dragster called Vampire, was theoretically capable of travelling at speeds of up to 370 mph (595 km/h).[14] The vehicle was the same car that in 2000, piloted by Colin Fallows, set the British land speed record at 300.3 mph (483.3 km/h).[15] [] [17] The Vampire was powered by a single Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus afterburning turbojet engine producing 5,000 lbf (22 kN) of thrust.[18]

Some accounts suggested that the accident occurred during an attempt to break the British land speed record,[13][19] but the Health and Safety Executive report on the crash found that a proposal to try to officially break the record was vetoed in advance by Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, due to the risks and complexities of such a venture.[15] [] The report stated: "Runs were to be carried out in only one direction along a pre-set course on the Elvington runway. Vampire’s speed was to be recorded using GPS satellite telemetry. The intention was to record the maximum speed, not to measure an average speed over a measured course, and for (Hammond) to describe how it felt."[15] []

Hammond was completing a seventh and final run to collect extra footage for the programme when his front-right tyre failed,[15] [] [20] and, according to witness and paramedic Dave Ogden, "one of the parachutes had deployed but it went on to the grass and spun over and over before coming to a rest about 100 yards from us."[21] The emergency crew quickly arrived at the car, finding it inverted and partially embedded in the grass.[19] During the roll, Hammond's helmet had embedded itself into the ground, flipping the visor up and forcing soil into his mouth and damaging his left eye. Rescuers felt a pulse and heard the unconscious Hammond breathing before the car was turned upright.[19] Hammond was cut free with hydraulic shears, and placed on a backboard.[15] [] "He was regaining consciousness at that point and said he had some lower back pain".[19] He was then transported by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the neurological unit of the Leeds General Infirmary.[13][15] [] [22] Hammond's family visited him at the hospital along with Top Gear co-presenters James May and Jeremy Clarkson.[21][22] Clarkson wished Hammond well, saying "Both James and I are looking forward to getting our 'Hamster' back", referring to Hammond by his nickname.[13][21] For five weeks while Hammond was recovering in hospital, Clarkson sent a funny message to Mindy, Hammond's wife every day to try to keep her going. Hammond thought if everyone found out, Clarkson would "die of shame" "cos it makes him look soppy".[23]

The Health & Safety Executive report stated that "Hammond's instantaneous reaction to the tyre blow-out seems to have been that of a competent high performance car driver, namely to brake the car and to try to steer into the skid. Immediately afterwards he also seems to have followed his training and to have pulled back on the main parachute release lever, thus shutting down the jet engine and also closing the jet and afterburner fuel levers. The main parachute did not have time to deploy before the car ran off the runway."[15] [] The HSE notes that, based on the findings of the North Yorkshire Police (who investigated the crash), "the accident may not have been recoverable", even if Hammond's efforts to react were as fast as "humanly possible".[15] []

Hammond made his first TV appearance since the crash on the BBC chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on the 22nd December, just three months after the incident, where he revealed he was in a severe coma for two weeks and afterwards suffered from post-traumatic amnesia and a five-second memory.[24] Despite saying he was "absolutely fixed" on the Jonathan Ross episode, in 2011, while talking to the Daily Mirror, Hammond admitted he had no memory of the interview, saying: "I lost a year. I don’t remember doing the interview with Jonathan Ross or doing Top Gear Live in South Africa" showing the full impact of his brain injury 5 years before."[25]

The crash was shown on an episode of Top Gear on 28 January 2007; this was the first episode of the new series, which had been postponed pending Hammond's recovery. Hammond requested at the end of the episode that his fellow presenters never mention the crash again, a request which has been generally observed, although occasional oblique references have been made by all three presenters. On The Edge: My Story, which contains first-hand accounts from both Hammond and his wife about the crash, immediate aftermath, and his recovery, was published later that year.

In February 2008, Hammond gave an interview to The Sunday Times newspaper in which he described the effects of his brain injuries and the progression of his recovery.[26] He reported suffering loss of memory, depression and difficulties with emotional experiences, for which he was consulting a psychiatrist.[26][27] He also talked about his recovery in a 2010 television programme where he interviewed Sir Stirling Moss and they discussed the brain injuries they had both received as a result of car crashes.[28]

In 2003, Hammond became the first presenter of Brainiac: Science Abuse; he was joined by Jon Tickle and Charlotte Hudson in series 2.[29] After the fourth series it was announced that Hammond was no longer going to present the Sky1 show after he signed an exclusive deal with the BBC. Vic Reeves took his place as main presenter.[30]

Early in his career, as well as his radio work, Hammond presented a number of daytime lifestyle shows and motoring programmes such as Motor Week on Men & Motors.

He presented the Crufts dog show in 2005, the 2004 and 2005 British Parking Awards, and has appeared on School's Out, a quiz show on BBC One where celebrities answer questions about things they learned at school. He has also presented The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend.[31] Along with his work on Top Gear, he presented Should I Worry About...? on BBC One, Time Commanders on BBC Two and the first four series of Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky 1. He was also a team captain on the BBC Two quiz show, Petrolheads, in which a memorable part was one where Hammond was tricked into bumping his classic Ferrari while trying to parallel park blindfolded in another car.

In 2006, Hammond fronted the Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show with his co-presenter Mel Giedroyc. The programme, which discussed a wide range of topics, was shown every weekday on ITV between 17:00 and 18:00.

In July 2005, Hammond was voted one of the top 10 British TV talents.[32]

He presented Richard Hammond and the Holy Grail in 2006. During the special, he travelled to various locations around the world, including the Vatican Secret Archives, exploring the history of the Holy Grail.[33]

As part of Red Nose Day 2007, Hammond stood for nomination via a public telephone vote, along with Andy Hamilton and Kelvin MacKenzie, to be a one-off co-presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on 16 March 2007.[34] However, he was defeated by Andy Hamilton.

In April 2007, Hammond presented a one off special on BBC Radio 2 for Good Friday followed by another in August 2007 for the bank holiday.[35]

Hammond recorded an interview with the famed American stuntman Evel Knievel, which aired on 23 December 2007 on BBC Two, and was Knievel's last interview before his death on 30 November 2007.[36]

In September 2008, Hammond presented the first episode of a new series; Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections on the National Geographic Channel.[37] In this show, Hammond discovered how the inventions of the past, along with assistance from nature, help designers today. Episodes include the building of the Airbus A380, Taipei 101 and the Keck Observatory.[37] Series 2 of Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections began in May 2010 and has included the building of the Wembley Stadium and the Sydney Opera House.

Hammond appeared in an advertisement for Morrisons supermarkets in 2008,[38] and joined the cast of TV show Ashes To Ashes for a special insert on the 2008 Children in Need special.

While in New Zealand for Top Gear Live 2009, Hammond filmed several television commercials for Telecom New Zealand's new XT UTMS mobile network. Telecom claimed that the new network was "faster in more places", compared to its competitors and its existing CDMA network. After the network suffered three highly publicised outages in late 2009 and early 2010, Hammond became the butt of a joke when he did not return to New Zealand for Top Gear Live 2010. His fellow Top Gear co-hosts said he was too embarrassed to come back to New Zealand, and in a supposed live feed back to Hammond, the feed suddenly drops out as the "XT Network had crashed".[39] Hammond was later given the right of reply to his colleagues during an interview with Marcus Lush on RadioLIVE's breakfast show in New Zealand.[40]

Hammond hosted the UK version of the US series Wipeout, called Total Wipeout for BBC One. It took place in Argentina, and was co-presented by Hammond and Amanda Byram. Hammond presented and performed the voiceover for the clips in a London studio, and Byram was filmed at the obstacle course in Buenos Aires.[41] The series was cancelled at the end of 2012.[42]

Hammond also presented a science-themed game show for children, Richard Hammond's Blast Lab which aired on BBC Two and CBBC.[43]

In March 2010, Hammond presented a three episode series called Richard Hammond's Invisible Worlds, which looked at things too fast for the naked eye to see, things that are beyond the visible spectrum (e.g., ultraviolet and infra-red light), as well as microscopic things.

One of Hammond's lesser known television roles was as presenter of the BBC Two gameshow Time Commanders, a sophisticated warfare simulator which used a modified version of Creative Assembly's Rome: Total War game engine.[44]

Since February 2011, Hammond has presented an online technology series Richard Hammond's Tech Head.[45] In July 2011, Hammond presented a two-part natural science documentary Richard Hammond's Journey to the Centre of the Planet, focused on Earth geology and plate tectonics.[46][47]

In April 2012, Hammond hosted a BBC America programme titled Richard Hammond's Crash Course,[48] which was also shown in the UK from September 2012[49] on BBC Two. In May 2012, Hammond co-presented an animal documentary for BBC One called Planet Earth Live alongside Julia Bradbury. The programme recorded animals living in extreme conditions.[50]

In June 2014, Hammond presented a scientific fourteen part series on National Geographic Channel titled Science of Stupid which focused on the application of physics in everyday life.[51] In December, Hammond presented a three-part science documentary for BBC One called Wild Weather with Richard Hammond which focuses on the hidden world of our Earth's extreme weather system.[52]

In September 2015, Hammond presented a two-part documentary for Sky 1 called Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest, supported by Sky Rainforest Rescue.[53]

In March 2017, whilst filming for The Grand Tour in Mozambique, Hammond fell off a motorbike. He reportedly hit his head and became unconscious; further details, however, will only be revealed in series two of the show.[54][55]

During the season finale of The Grand Tour season three, Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson announced the current format was coming to the end and later announced that there would be two more seasons of specials, without the tent or live audience.

Hammond will star alongside Mythbusters' Tory Belleci in a new six-episode series for Amazon, announced in August 2019 and to be produced by Chimp Productions. The series will strand the pair on a deserted island where they will use the resource they can find to build the means to survive.[56]

On 10 June 2017 Hammond crashed a Rimac Concept One while filming for The Grand Tour in Hemberg, Switzerland. Hammond was on his last run up a timed hill climb course during the Bergrennen Hemberg event, when, just after crossing the finish line, the car ran off the road. The car tumbled down the hill and eventually came to rest upside down 110m from the road where it then burst into flames, with Hammond narrowly escaping in time.[57][58]

Hammond remained conscious throughout and later described the feeling of "oh god, I'm going to die", as well as being "aware of tumbling - sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground." After being airlifted to hospital, Hammond was diagnosed with a tibial plateau fracture in his left knee and a plate and ten screws were surgically inserted.[59]

Jeremy Clarkson and James May, fellow presenters on The Grand Tour both witnessed the scene from afar, and, believing Hammond was dead, May recalled feeling a "blossoming, white-hot ball of pure, sickening horror forming in my heart"[61] with Clarkson describing his "knees turning to jelly" at the sight of the crash.[62]

After the ordeal, the FIA allegedly ruled that the "show runs" Hammond and company were doing at the time of the accident violated the governing body's International Sporting Code and that the crash "acted against the interests of the sport." As a result, the Bergrennen Hemberg organizers were fined $5,138, on top of six-month license suspensions for race director Christian Muller and stewards Hermann Muller, Karl Marty, and Daniel Lenglet. In August of that year, Motorsport.com reported that the future of the entire event "is now in jeopardy."[63] Despite the reports, the Bergrennen Hemberg would be held again in 2018, and driver registrations opening for 2019.[64]

Personal life


Richard Hammond has been married to Amanda "Mindy" Hammond (née Etheridge, born 6 July 1965),[65] a columnist for the Daily Express,[66] since May 2002. They have two daughters.[4]

Hammond is known for owning a large number of animals on Bollitree farm including several horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, sheep, and a peacock. He and his family adopted TG, the official Top Gear dog, after it became apparent that the labradoodle was afraid of cars. The dog died aged 11 in January 2017.[67]

Hammond plays bass guitar, on which he accompanied the other Top Gear presenters when they performed alongside Justin Hawkins on Top Gear of the Pops for Comic Relief in 2007.

He likes to ride his bicycle, scooter, or motorbike in cities, for which he is mocked mercilessly by fellow presenter Jeremy Clarkson.[68]

During the news segment of Top Gear's 2010 USA Road Trip special, Hammond openly expressed his dislike of the band Genesis. This fact was later exploited by his co-presenters (particularly by Clarkson) in three special episodes: during the Middle East Special, when they installed a secret second stereo unit in his Fiat Barchetta that only plays the band's Live over Europe 2007 album; in the India Special, Clarkson played the same song used in the previous special (albeit the Seconds Out version) through the megaphone mounted in his Jaguar XJS, despite Hammond driving a different car (a Mini Cooper Sport). In the 2013 Africa Special, Clarkson once again played Genesis in an attempt to get Hammond to let him pass.

In 2007, Hammond went to Africa on a Top Gear special across Botswana, with his choice of car being a 1963 Opel Kadett, which he subsequently named Oliver. A week after the special was aired, Hammond announced during the news section that he had shipped Oliver back to the UK, where it was restored by a team from Practical Classics magazine. Oliver features on Hammond's children's science television show Richard Hammond's Blast Lab and in another episode of Top Gear as a kind of "Hill-holder" in the trailer truck challenge (after it acquired the fake personal plate "OLI V3R"). Oliver is also mentioned in Hammond's second autobiography As You Do.[69]

In 2010, Hammond was the president of the 31st Herefordshire Country Fair held at Hampton Court in Hope under Dinmore. His involvement caused unprecedented attendance with "nearly 15,000 people" drawn to the event to meet the presenter.[70]

In March 2012, Hammond passed his B206 LST helicopter licence and has since owned a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter.[71]

In September 2018, his wife reported that she and Richard, along with their fifteen-year-old daughter, had been burgled while sleeping at their holiday villa in Saint-Tropez, speculating that they might have been rendered unconscious by noxious gas.[72]

The Hammond family lives in a mock castle in Herefordshire and also has an apartment in London and a villa in Saint-Tropez.[72][68] In an interview with The Sunday Times in February 2008, it was reported that Hammond had moved briefly from Gloucestershire to Buckinghamshire, then back again, because he missed the country life.[73]

In October 2012, it was reported he had spent over £2 million buying Bollitree Castle which is situated near Weston under Penyard, Ross-on-Wye. It has been rumoured he has also bought a large house in the small town of Wantage, Oxfordshire.[74][75]

Hammond currently owns or has owned many different cars including:

Cars no longer owned by Hammond:

Hammond is a keen motorcyclist, having ridden for over 30 years.[97] He currently owns or has owned many different motorcycles including:

  • 1925 Sunbeam Model A, with an asthmatic side-valve 350cc single-cylinder engine, a hand-shift three-speed gearbox, a manual oil pump, acetylene gas lights and no milometer[98]
  • 1927 Sunbeam Model 2[99]
  • 1935 Indian[100]
  • 1947 Harley Davidson[100]
  • 1951 BMW R51, with a 600cc conversion, a Hoske rank and cut down mudguards[98]
  • 1959 Norton Dominator[99]
  • 1961 Triumph Bonneville T120C[101]
  • 1962 Triumph Bonneville[102]
  • 1970s Moto Guzzi 750 S[103]
  • 1974 Kawasaki Z900[99]
  • 1976 BMW R90S, which is an "[i]rresistible low mileage example of BMWs first attempt at a sportsbike. The tank's been repainted, but the rest is original."[98]
  • 1976 Honda Gold Wing[99]
  • 1976 Kawasaki Z900, which was a 40th birthday present from his wife[98][104]
  • 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans (Mk1). "I've always wanted a Guzzi. They've got a tractor-like quality. This one is fitted with a period accessory fairing from Apple Motorcycles", Hammond said in an interview for Bike Magazine.[98][99]
  • 1976 Yamaha FS-1E[99]
  • 1981 BMW R100RT, which Hammond bought "when some friends, including James May, started a thing called the Crap Motorcycle Camping Club of GB. [...] It's called Eric, after the previous owner and it's done 105,000 miles".[99]
  • 1988 BMW R100GS[98]
  • 1990 BMW K1, with a unique BMW Motorsport inspired paintjob[98]
  • 1990 BMW K100RS, which has a batch painted by Dream Machine in BMW Motorsport colours to celebrate Nick Jeffries finishing 8th in the 1984 Production TT on one[98]
  • 1991 Suzuki GSX-R1100. In an interview for Bike Magazine in 2014, Hammond stated: "When I was a kid I saw a GSX-R 1100 being filled up in a petrol station. I thought it was amazing. I know this isn't the collectable slab-sided one, but I don't care."[98][99]
  • 1992 Kawasaki KR1-S[98][99]
  • 1992 Kawasaki ZXR750. In a Bike Magazine interview, Richard stated: "I just love the hoses from the fairing ducts to the engine. I remember seeing these in Mick Staiano Motorcycles in Harrogate and dreaming of owning one."[98]
  • 1998 Ducati 916 SPS Fogarty Replica[98]
  • 2012 BMW R1200RT, which is according to Richard "[t]he best bike in the world." In 2014, he told Bike Magazine: "I love to hustle on the RT. It's done 8000 commuting miles and is used as a tool."[98]
  • 2014 Norton Commando 961 SE[99]
  • Bimota SB8R[105]
  • Bimota YB9[99]
  • Brough Superior SS80 period race replica[99]
  • Brough Superior SS100[99]
  • Ducati 900 Super Sport Desmo[106]
  • Honda SS50. In 2014, Richard told Bike Magazine that the Honda had been disassembled and was being restored by his daughter.[98]
  • Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000[107]
  • Suzuki GS1000[99]
  • Vespa GTS 300 Super Sport scooter[108]
  • Vincent Black Shadow[109]
  • Yamaha Virago[98]

Motorcycles no longer owned by Hammond:

Furthermore, Hammond owns or has owned the following vehicles:

Charity work


Hammond has been an ambassador of UK children's brain injury charity The Children's Trust, Tadworth for many years.[111]

On 29 September 2013, terminally-ill eight-year-old Emilia Palmer was driven by Hammond in a pink Lamborghini Aventador Roadster (newly repainted for the occasion). Hammond flew his Robinson R44 helicopter, G-OHAM, to Shobdon Aerodrome, then picked Palmer up from her home in Kimbolton, Herefordshire and drove her back to the airport for a high-speed run on the main runway. The event was arranged at short notice by Rays of Sunshine.[112][113][114]

Controversies


Hammond's comments and actions have sometimes resulted in complaints from viewers, LGBT rights charities, and foreign diplomats.

During the second episode of series sixteen of Top Gear, Hammond suggested that no one would ever want to own a Mexican car, since cars are supposed to reflect national characteristics and so a Mexican car would be "lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence, asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat."[115] Hammond finished with the remark "I'm sorry, but can you imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican?!"[116] The comments prompted Mexico's ambassador in London, Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, to lodge an official complaint to the BBC. Demanding an apology from the BBC, the ambassador stated: "These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people."[117] The BBC defended the broadcast of this segment on the grounds that such national stereotyping was a "robust part" of traditional British humour.[118]

In December 2016, in reference to the interior styling of a Rolls Royce co-presenter Clarkson joked that "the only problem is that in one of those, you couldn't enjoy a chocolate Magnum ice cream" – to which Hammond responded: "It's all right, I don't eat ice cream. It's something to do with being straight."[119] LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell accused Hammond of "pandering to prejudice", adding that "it's a perverse world when everyday pleasures like ice cream becomes the butt of homophobic innuendo."[120] A spokesperson for UK LGBT rights charity Stonewall stated that "Hammond's choice of words were not just ridiculous, but chosen purposefully to mock and belittle."[121]

A year later, in an interview with The Times, Hammond stated: "Look, anyone who knows me knows I wasn’t being serious, that I’m not homophobic. Love is love, whatever the sex of the two people in love... It may be because I live in a hideously safe and contained middle-class world, where a person’s sexuality is not an issue".[122] In an interview with Newsweek Today, Hammond denied making homophobic comments, and refused to apologise for the remarks: "I entirely reject any criticism of me being anti-gay. That's just not the case."[123]

Filmography


Awards and honours


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