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Mesa County deputy featured in ‘The Grand Tour’

Reality show films ‘traffic stop’ near Montrose
Deputy Conner Bell, of the Mesa County Sheriff’s office, with reality TV star Jeremy Clarkson during the filming of “The Grand Tour.”

A Mesa County deputy got his 15 minutes of fame this month when he and his patrol car were featured in an episode of a internationally watched British reality show.

In April 2017, the makers of “The Grand Tour,” an Amazon Prime auto show, drove through Mesa County for an episode set in Colorado’s Western Slope. When the episode went online on Jan. 12, it showed Mesa deputy Conner Bell performing a traffic stop on Jeremy Clarkson, one of the show’s stars. The actual incident was staged, but sheriff’s office staff hope it will spark real worldwide interest in their region of Southwest Colorado.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Megan Terlecky said the show’s creators contacted the office far in advance to ask for a deputy to help film the scene. Bell, a fan of the show, volunteered to help out on his day off.

It wasn’t the first time the department had received a filming request from a TV show, Terlecky said, but most requests in the past have been for crime dramas or documentaries.

“This was by far the most fun,” she said.

“The Grand Tour” is a spin-off of British car show “Top Gear” that features Clarkson, along with co-stars Richard Hammond and James May, traveling around the world and getting into adventures while driving a different type of car every week. The episode in which Bell appeared, season two’s “Jaaaaaaaags,” showed the crew driving Jaguars around the Western Slope, stopping in Grand Junction and Telluride. Bell appeared as part of a running joke in which the show’s stars got away with various misbehaviors, including a traffic violation, because their cars looked like those usually driven by classic British movie villains.

Terlecky said the scene was originally supposed to be filmed in Mesa County, but production moved to the Hanging Flume Overlook in Montrose County “at the last minute” because the spot had more room for the vehicles and offered a good view of the mountains. The crew asked Montrose County law enforcement if they would like to be featured instead, she said, but the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office couldn’t spare a deputy and allowed Mesa County to stand in for them.

Working with film crews like this one, Terlecky said, can be a way for law enforcement to create more interest in a part of Colorado that tourists sometimes overlook. She said she hoped Bell’s Mesa County patrol car, which can be clearly seen in the episode, would prompt viewers to look up the area where the episode was filmed.

“What a great opportunity to show off the beauty of the Western Slope,” she said. “We would love to invite people to visit our county. But we’d ask them to drive at a safe speed.”

According to the Four Corners Film Office, “The Grand Tour” was just one of more than a dozen productions filmed in Southwest Colorado last year. Montezuma County was featured in the Discovery Channel show “Alaskan Bush People,” a Travel Channel documentary and a Volkswagen commercial.

“The Grand Tour” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

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