- Top Gear (current format)
show_name = Top Gear
caption = The "Top Gear" logo
Jeremy Clarkson Richard Hammond James May(since 2003) The Stig
Jason Dawe (2002)
opentheme = "Jessica"
country = flagicon|United Kingdom
language = English
num_series = 11
num_episodes = 95 and 5 specials
list_episodes = List of Top Gear episodes
location = Dunsfold Park,
runtime = 60 min. (approx.)
576i, anamorphic16:9 1080i(Polar Special 2007)
first_run = 1977 – 2001
first_aired = 20 October 2002
last_aired = present
preceded_by = "Top Gear"
related = "Top Gear (US)"
Top Gear Australia"
Stars in Fast Cars"
Top Gear Winter Olympics"
Top Gear of the Pops"
Top Ground Gear Force"
website = http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear
production_website = http://www.topgear.com
imdb_id = 0163503
tv_com_id = 27682
"Top Gear" is a
BAFTA, multi-NTA and International Emmy Award-winning BBC television seriesabout motor vehicles, mainly cars. It began in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine show. Over time, and especially since a relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous style. The show is presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James Mayand The Stig, an anonymous test driver. The programme is estimated to have 385 million viewers worldwide. [cite news |url=http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSPAR44788520080104 |work=Reuters |title=TV car show host wins online backing for British PM |quote=Top Gear is at number two |date=2008-01-01 |accessdate=2008-01-02] In 2007 it was one of the most pirated television shows in the world. [cite web |title=Top Gear's chequered past |publisher=BBC |date=2006-09-21 |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5367516.stm |accessdate=2007-10-04] Top Gear Series 12 starts on 2 November 2008 [ [http://transmission.blogs.topgear.com/2008/10/10/new-series-start-date/ Top Gear webiste transmission blog] . New series start date: the new series will now start on Sunday 2 November.] for eight episodes [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear Top Gear Homepage] . Next series: Top Gear returns in the autumn with eight brand spanking new episodes of the world's favourite car show.] .
The show has received considerable acclaim for its visuals and presentation, as well as a number of criticisms for its content and comments made by presenters. Columnist
A. A. Gilldescribed the show as, "a triumph of the craft of programme-making, of the minute, obsessive, musical masonry of editing, the french polishing of colourwashing and grading." [cite web
title=Harley Street: another unimaginative medical drama
authorlink=A. A. Gill
work=Arts & Entertainment
publisher=The Times Online] Groups such as the
Environmental Investigation Agencyhave criticised the BBC for allowing Top Gear to film in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Makgadikgadi salt pan in Botswana. [cite web
url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6281512.stm |title=Top Gear 'damaged African plains' |date=2007-07-08 |accessdate=2008-07-22|publisher=
BBC World News]
First run episodes are broadcast in the
United Kingdomon BBC Two. Episodes of "Top Gear" are also broadcast on Dave, BBC America, and a number of other television channels around the world. The popularity of the show has led to the creation of two international versions, with local production teams and presenters, for Australia and the United States. Episodes of the Australian version premiered on 29 September 2008, while NBC is holding the American version for broadcast in February or March, 2009, as a possible mid-season replacement. [http://www.futoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=7647]
Jeremy Clarkson, who helped the original series reach its peak in the 1990s, along with producer
Andy Wilman, successfully pitched a new format for "Top Gear" to the BBC, reversing a previous decision to cancel the show in 2001. The new series was first broadcast in 2002. "Top Gear"'s studio is located at Dunsfold Park, a privately-owned aerodrome[ [http://www.dunsfoldaerodrome.com/ Dunsfold Aerodrome] ] and business park [ [http://www.dunsfoldpark.co.uk/ Dunsfold Park] ] in Waverley, Surrey. "Top Gear" uses a temporary racing circuit which was designed for the show by Lotus and is laid out on parts of Dunsfold's runways and taxiways. A large hangaris used for studio recording with a standing audience who apply to the BBC for free tickets, albeit with an estimated 21-year waiting list. [cite web
title=Top Gear fans face 21 year waiting list
The new series format incorporates a number of major changes from the old show. The running time was extended to one hour and two new presenters were introduced:
Richard Hammondand Jason Dawe, with James Mayreplacing Dawe after the first series. The Stig, an anonymous masked racing driver, was introduced as the test driver. New segments were also added, including " Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car", "The Cool Wall", "Car News", " Power Laps", and one-off features such as races, competitions and the frequent destruction of caravans.
- Top Photo: Series 1 host lineup from l to r: Jason Dawe,
Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson.
- Bottom Photo: The current presenters from Series 2 onward. From l to r:
James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson.
In early 2006, the BBC had planned to move the filming site from Dunsfold to
Enstone, Oxfordshirefor filming of the eighth series of "Top Gear", but the move was rejected by the community due to noise and pollution concerns. [cite web
title=Villagers put the brake on Top Gear
date=20 February 2006
accessdate=2008-07-19] Filming of the series went ahead at Dunsfold in May despite not having a permit to do so, [cite web
title=Community split over TV show's future
date=26 May 2006
accessdate=2008-07-19] with a revamped studio set, a new car for the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" segment, and the inclusion of one of Hammond's dogs, named "Top Gear Dog", in a few studio and film segments of that series.
On 20 September 2006, Richard Hammond was seriously injured while driving the Vampire turbojet-propelled drag-racing car at up to convert|314|mph|km/h for a feature in the show. The BBC indefinitely postponed the broadcast of "Best of Top Gear" and announced that production of the show would be delayed until Hammond had recovered. Both the BBC and the
Health and Safety Executivecarried out inquiries into the accident. [cite news |last=Savage |first=Mark |title=Top Gear's Chequered Past |publisher=BBC News |date= 2006-09-21|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5367516.stm |accessdate=2007-02-18] Filming resumed on 5 October 2006. [cite news |title=Filming resumes on Top Gear show |publisher=BBC News |date= 2006-10-05|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5409608.stm |accessdate=2007-02-18] The ninth series began on 28 January 2007 and included footage of Hammond's crash. [cite web |url=http://www.topgear.com/content/news/stories/1430/ |title=Hamster Attends TG Awards |date=2006-12-13 |accessdate=2007-01-13 |work=Top Gear] The first show of the ninth series attracted higher ratings than the finale of "Celebrity Big Brother" [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6309411.stm |work=BBC News |title=Top Gear crash wins ratings clash |date=2007-01-29 |accessdate=2007-01-31] and the final episode of the series had 8 million viewers — BBC Two's highest ratings for a decade.
A special programme, "", was broadcast in the UK on 25 July 2007 and was the first episode to be shown in high-definition. It involved a race to the
North Magnetic Pole[ [http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/13538/Top-Gear-team-in-hot-water-over-Pole-race Top Gear Team in Hot Water Over Pole Race] ] from Resolute, Nunavut, Canada, with James May and Jeremy Clarkson travelling in a 'polar modified' Toyota Hilux, and Richard Hammond on a dog-drawn sled — or, as they became known, "Team Dog". All three presenters had experienced explorers with them, and Clarkson and May became the first to reach the 1996 North Magnetic Pole by car, using the vehicle's satellite navigation. Since 1996, the North Magnetic Pole had moved approximately convert|100|mi|km. The recorded 1996 location is the target used by Polar Challengeand was used by the "Top Gear" team as their destination; the Geographic North Pole is approximately convert|800|mi|km further north.
On 9 September 2007, "Top Gear" participated in the 2007
Britcar24-hour race at Silverstone, where the hosts (including The Stig) drove a race-prepared, second-hand dieselBMW 330d to win 3rd in class and 39th overall. The car was allegedly fuelled using Bio-diesel refined from crops sown during a tractor review item in a previous series.
On 28 August,
Britcarannounced that Top Gear will return to the Britcar 24 Hours.
"The Top Gear BMW 330d is returning to the race, the Top Gear Technology Team will be running the car, this year they are running the same team of engineers, they are expected to do better this year, as the car has been totally rebuilt, after the 'Off' the car had in the night last year."
It is not known whether
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, or The Stigwill participate as drivers. [http://www.britcar24hr.co.uk/cms/news.php]
Also on 14 March 2008,
BBC Worldwideannounced that the "Top Gear" format would provide the basis for a live event that will visit fifteen countries. The "Top Gear Live" tour starts on 30 October 2008 in Earls Court, London, moving on to Birmingham in November then at least 15 other countries worldwide.Produced by former "Top Gear" producer Rowland French [MPH Show 2008 Producers, [http://www.mphshow.co.uk/page.cfm/Link=135/t=m/goSection=14] ] the event promises to:
"bring the tv show format to life... featuring breath-taking stunts, amazing special effects and blockbusting driving sequences featuring some of the world’s best precision drivers". [MPH Show 2008 featuring Top Gear Live [http://www.mphshow.co.uk/page.cfm/link=71/GoSection=14] ]
On 17 June 2008, in an interview on BBC Radio 1's "
The Chris Moyles Show", Hammond and May confirmed that in Series 11 there will be a new "occasional regular host". [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chrismoyles/galleries/2877/30/#gallery2877 BBC Radio 1: Chris Moyles interview] ] The series' executive producer, Andy Wilman, has also revealed that future programmes will have less time devoted to big challenges:
"We've looked back at the last two or three runs and noticed that a programme can get swallowed up by one monster film — a bit like one of those Yes albums from the 70s where side one is just one track — so we're trying to calm down the prog-rock side. We'll inevitably still have big films, because it's the only way you can enjoy the three of them cocking about together, but they'll be shorter overall, and alongside we'll be inserting two- or three-minute punk songs." ["Radio Times" 21–27 June 2008: Changing Gear]
The show has won several awards, including a BAFTA in 2007 for Best Features, an International Emmy Award in 2005 for Non-Scripted Entertainment, two consecutive
National Television Awardsin 2006 and 2007 for Most Popular Factual Programme (after having been nominated in 2004 and 2005), and a Television and Radio Industries Clubin 2008 for TV Entertainment Programme. [cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0163503/awards |title=Awards for "Top Gear" (1978) |publisher= IMDB]
The BBC has announced that "Top Gear" will return for a new, eight-episode series in autumn 2008. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear Top Gear Homepage] . Next series: Top Gear returns in the autumn with eight brand spanking new episodes of the world's favourite car show.]
For their initial broadcasts, new episodes of "Top Gear" are shown in the
United Kingdomon BBC Twoon Sunday evenings at 8:00 pm. Each show is an hour in length with no interruption for adverts.
Repeats of earlier series are currently shown on Dave and
UKTV People, cut to 46 minutes to allow it to fit in an hour-long slot while leaving room for adverts. Since mid-October 2007 the channel Dave has begun showing new episodes of "Top Gear" only three weeks behind BBC Two. The new episodes are also shown in an edited 46-minute version. "Top Gear" has been broadcast in other countries either in its original format, in a re-edited version, or with specially shot segments in front of the UK audience. For example, Canvas, the Flemishpublic broadcaster, picked up the show after the success of the "Top Gear: Polar Special" programme.The BBC version of the programme is broadcast by RTE Twoin Ireland.
The BBC also broadcasts edited "Top Gear" programmes on its international
BBC WorldTV channel. Episodes are shortened to 30 minutes, often leaving dangling references and inconsistencies. Additionally, the original transmission order is sometimes not adhered to, so references to un-aired events are common. The only footage specially shot for the international version is for the end of each episode, when Clarkson bids his goodbye to BBC World viewers, instead of BBC viewers. BBC Americaalso broadcasts repeats of "Top Gear", with two episodes shown back-to-back, but with segments edited to allow for commercials.
Recently, BBC World has changed from showing edited versions of the current series to "best of" collections of the previous series. In both cases the BBC World edition mainly features the challenges and races from the normal episodes, with Clarkson's 'stronger' remarks removed. Interviews and "Car of the Year" are generally not shown.
As of July 2008, "Top Gear" have produced three specials for
Comic Relief. The first, titled " Stars in Fast Cars", was broadcast on 5 February 2005, and starred Hammond and May as presenters, with Clarkson and five other British television personalities racing against each other. It spawned a short-lived series presented by Dougie Anderson.
The second was filmed for Comic Relief's
Red Nose Day 2007fund-raising event, and is titled " Top Gear of the Pops". It mixed the show's typical format with music and appearances from artists Lethal Bizzle, Travis, Supergrass, and McFly with a challenge to write a song including the words "sofa", "administration" and " Hyundai". It concluded with a performance by Clarkson, Hammond and May with Justin Hawkinsof "Red Light Spells Danger" by Billy Ocean.
The third, titled "
Top Ground Gear Force", was broadcast on BBC Twoat 10:00 pm on 14 March 2008 as part of Sport Relief. This programme, which borrowed the " Ground Force" format, [cite web |url=http://www.topgear.com/content/news/stories/2665/ |publisher=www.topgear.com |title=Top Garden Ground Gear Force |date=2008-02-28 |accessdate=2008-07-28] saw presenters 'Alan Clarkmarsh', 'Handy Hammond' and 'Jamesy Dimmock May' undertake a one-day makeover of Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave's garden.
The show regularly features long-distance (and, as Clarkson refers to them, "epic") races.cite episode
title = Top Gear
episodelink = Top Gear (series 4)
airdate = 2004-05-09
seriesno = 4
number = 1
quote = "Jeremy Clarkson": No train can be faster than cars, not possible okay? And to prove the point I organised an epic race.] cite episode
title = Top Gear
episodelink = Top Gear (series 10)
airdate = 2007-11-11
seriesno = 10
number = 5
quote = "Jeremy Clarkson": And now it is time for one of our epic races, you know the sort of thing where a Bugatti races across the Alps against a truffle, or a McLaren-Mercedes races a power boat to Oslo.] These typically feature Clarkson (or one of the other presenters) driving a car against other forms of transport. The challenges usually involving Hammond and May taking the same journey by combinations of plane, train or ferry.
A number of smaller scale 'novelty' races have also taken place that demonstrate various strengths and, more often, weaknesses of cars. These races involve one of the presenters, in a carefully chosen car, racing head-to-head against an athlete in conditions that favour the latter. The programme has also featured a variety of small races, typically lasting a couple of minutes, that pit two similar cars against each other, for example old vs. new.
Early series featured novelty challenges and short stunt films, typically based on absurd premises, such as a bus jumping over motorcycles (as opposed to the more typical scenario of a motorcycle jumping over buses) or a nun driving a monster truck. No stunt films appeared between series seven and ten, but series eleven saw the introduction of segments with an anonymous stunt man (credited as "Top Gear Stunt Man") performing car jumps.
Starting with series five, many of the show's films were introduced with the tag-line, "How hard can it be?". These included films where the presenters attempted to build a convertible
Renault Espace, being roadies for The Who, and participating in the Britcar24-hour endurance raceat Silverstone Circuit.
Starting with series four, one episode of each series has featured a film built around the premise of "Cheap cars", whereby the presenters are given a budget (typically around £1,500, but it has been between £100 and £10,000 depending on the type of car) to buy a used car conforming to certain criteria. Once purchased, the presenters compete against each other in a series of tests to establish who has bought the best car. The presenters have no prior knowledge of what the tests will be, although they generally involve a long journey to determine reliability, fuel economy, and a race track event to determine performance.
tar in a Reasonably-Priced Car
In each episode, a celebrity is interviewed by Clarkson. Then, Clarkson, the guest and the studio audience watch footage of the guest's fastest lap around the "Top Gear" test track. The times are recorded on a leader board. For the first seven series of "Top Gear"'s current format, the car driven was a Suzuki Liana. At the beginning of the eighth series, the Liana was replaced by a Chevrolet Lacetti. Consequently, as the Lacetti is more powerful, the leader board was wiped clean. The format for setting a lap time was also changed: each celebrity is allowed five practice laps, then a final timed lap. No allowance is made for any errors on this final timed lap.
Ellen MacArthurset the fastest lap time of any celebrity in the Liana. As of July 2008 Jay Kayset the fastest lap time of any celebrity in the Chevrolet Lacetti in the final episode of series 11, knocking Simon Cowelloff the top, a position which the latter had held for over two series.
There have been several mishaps in the past with this feature. Sir Michael Gambon went around the final corner of the track on two wheels, prompting Jeremy to rename the corner in Gambon's honour.
Lionel Richieand Trevor Evelost a wheel and David Souldestroyed the clutches of both the main car and the back-up car. Several celebrities have come off the track in practice, with Clarkson showing the footage to the audience.
There is a separate
Formula Onedrivers' leader board. The Stig is top of this board, but the presenters consider Lewis Hamilton's time to be more impressive; despite being set on a very wet and oily track, Hamilton's time was only three tenths of a second slower than The Stig's, which was set in dry conditions. In the past Clarkson has told drivers that they may deduct four seconds for a wet lap in the Suzuki Liana, making Hamilton's lap even more impressive. All Formula One times, even those set after the seventh series, are set in the Suzuki Liana.
In the Power Laps segment, The Stig completes a lap around the "Top Gear" test track to gauge the performance of various cars.
The qualifications for the normal Power Lap Board is that the car being tested must be road-worthy, and be able to go over a
speed bump[ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/powerlaps.shtml Top Gear Power Laps] Top Gear Website Retrieved on 2006.11.13 ( "In order to qualify for the power laps board, a car must be road legal and be a car. For this reason, the F1 car (0.59.0), Aston Martin DBR9 (1.08.6) and Sea Harrier (0.31.2) do not appear."] which is referred to sometimes in the UK as a 'sleeping policeman'. There is a separate unofficial board of times for non-production cars.
The most powerful production car ever featured on "Top Gear", the Auto PS|1001
Bugatti Veyron, has not yet been driven around the track by The Stig. According to Clarkson, this is because Bugatti has not given "Top Gear" permission to run the car through a power lap. [Top Gear Series 8, Episode 2 2006.05.14 "Richard Hammond: You know, I think the only time that the Zonda F is gonna get knocked off the board is when Bugatti finally let us put a Veyron on our track."] This was confirmed on the Veyron's second appearance in February 2007, when Clarkson made an appeal to Veyron owners to let Top Gear borrow their car and allow The Stig to drive it around the track, offering up to £30 to do so.
The car that recorded the fastest lap time on the "Top Gear" track was the Renault F1 car, at fifty nine seconds (0:59.00), although it was disqualified because the rules only include production cars able to get over speed bumps.
As of the Eleventh Series, the fastest road legal car that met the '
sleeping policeman' requirement was the Gumpert ApolloS in a time of 1:17.1. This is only 0.2 seconds faster than the former lap leader, the Ascari A10.
Without the 'sleeping policeman' requirement the fastest time around the track for a road legal car would be the
Caparo T1. The Caparo posted a time of 1:10.6 despite its reliability problems.
The Cool Wall
Introduced in the sixth episode of series one, Clarkson and Hammond decide which cars are cool and which are not by placing photographs of them on to various sections of a large board. The categories are, from left to right; "Seriously Uncool", "Uncool", "Cool", and "Sub Zero". According to Jeremy, an important part of each car's coolness factor rested on the extent to which he believed they would impress the actress
Kristin Scott Thomas. More recently, BBC newsreader Fiona Brucehas also been used as a notional judge. Both have since been the celebrity guest for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature, with disastrous results for Jeremy's pride. When Scott Thomas appeared on the show in series nine, many of her own judgments on which vehicles were "cool" and "uncool" were the opposite to the show's verdicts (her own set of wheels being a Honda Civic, previously dubbed "uncool"). Later, when Bruce came on in series 11, her preferred choice of transport - a Citroen Picasso- visibly horrified Clarkson.
In the first episode of series four, a separate fridge section, on a table to the right of the board, was introduced after Jeremy declared that the
Aston Martin DB9was too cool even to be classified as "Sub-Zero". It initially contained just the DB9, but was eventually joined by the Aston Martin V8 Vantagein the seventh series. At the other end of the scale, James May's car - the Fiat Panda- was placed several metres to the left of the "uncool" side, on a banner at the back of the hangar.
This was partly due to an acknowledged rule by the presenters that cars owned by themselves cannot be considered cool. In series nine, Clarkson was forced to place the
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyderin the Uncool section because he had just bought one. He then revealed that he had sold his Ford GT, allowing him to move the car back into the Sub-Zero section.
The humour of this section often lies in Clarkson and Hammond disagreeing over which section a car should be placed in, with Clarkson nearly always winning the argument — sometimes by placing the car at the very top of the wall, preventing the much shorter Hammond from being able to reach it. Hammond has occasionally got his revenge, such as when he ate the card on which a
BMW M6was featured, preventing it from being used, or during series six, after Clarkson had slipped two intervertebral discs and was unable to bend down, Hammond ended an argument by placing the car in question at the bottom of the board.
The Cool Wall was mostly destroyed in the fire that occurred in August 2007 (reported,tongue in cheek, by Jeremy Clarkson as having been started by their Channel 5 rivals
Fifth Gear), prior to the beginning of the tenth series, and was subsequently not used in that entire series. A new Cool Wall was introduced in the second episode of series eleven.
Another common theme on "Top Gear" is an approach to reviewing cars that combines standard road tests and opinions with an extremely unusual circumstance, or with a challenge to demonstrate a notable characteristic of the car.
*Drive until you get bored / Test: enjoyable travel. Clarkson claimed that Jaguars "ease the burden of travel"Top Gear Series 2 Episode 4 2003.06.01] and devised a test for the
Jaguar XJto see how far he could drive one before he got bored. "Series Two, Episode Four"
*Lap of the M25 / Test: fuel economy. Clarkson drove a lap of the M25 in a diesel
Volkswagen Lupo, while another driver used the petrol version to see which would achieve more miles per gallon. Clarkson was allowed to spend any money he saved over the petrol version on a gift at South Mimms services. He chose a small gold model of a cockerel, which made a reappearance in later series as 'The Golden Cock' - the award given to the presenter who'd made the most embarrassing mistake of the year. "Series Three, Episode One"
Toyota Hiluxdestruction / Test: toughness. Clarkson and May used various methods in an attempt to destroy a Toyota Hilux, including leaving it out in the ocean, slamming it with a wrecking ball, setting the cabin on fire and finally having it hoisted to the roof of a tower-block that was subsequently blown up. The heavily damaged (but still driveable) Hilux now stands on a plinth in the "Top Gear" studio. "Series Three, Episodes Five & Six"
*Helicopter gunship evasion / Test: handling. Clarkson tried to avoid being caught in missile lock from an WAH-64D Apache attack helicopter while driving a
Lotus Exige. "Series Four, Episode One"
Londonto Edinburghand back again on a single tank of fuel / Test: fuel economy. Clarkson attempted to drive a diesel Audi A8convert|800|mi|km on a single tank of fuel. "Series Four, Episode Four"
*Minicab road testing / Test: toughness and practicality. Hammond and May worked as minicab drivers in order to subject a
Renault Scenicand Ford C-MAXto a year's worth of hard abuse in one evening. "Series Four, Episode Seven"
*Off-road up a mountain / Test: off-road ability. Clarkson tried to drive a
Land Rover Discoveryfrom the beach to the top of Cnoc an Fhreiceadainin Scotland, completely off-road. It was heavily criticised by environmentalists for the damage done by the vehicle's tyres. This stunt was memorable in that Clarkson left the mountain by helicopter with the Discovery's keys in his pocket, so delaying its removal from the hill. "Series Five, Episode Three"
*24 hours in a car / Test: comfort. Hammond and May spent 24 hours in a
Smart Forfourto assess the marketing claim that the car is "designed like a lounge". "Series Five, Episode Four"
*Tank evasion / Test: off-road ability. Clarkson discovered whether a
Challenger 2 tankcould lock its main cannon on to a Range Rover Sport. "Series Six, Episode One"
*Car Football / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, played a football match using
Toyota Aygos. "Series Six, Episode One"
*Sniper evasion / Test: handling. Clarkson drove around a deserted village in a Mercedes SLK55 AMG and a Porsche Boxster S, trying to evade snipers of the
Irish Guards. "Series Six, Episode Five"
*Road Test Russian Roulette / Test: random road testing. Hammond and May worked as ScooterMencite web |work=www.scooterman.co.uk| title=ScooterMan | url=http://www.scooterman.co.uk | accessdate=2008-01-26] in order to road-test as many randomly-selected cars as possible, the catch being that they wouldn't know what they'd be road-testing and also had to do it in the presence of the cars' owners. "Series Six, Episode Nine"
*Supercars / Superbridge / Test: illustrate the point of supercars. The trio took three supercars (a
Ford GT, a Ferrari F430 Spyderand a Pagani Zonda S) on a road trip to the recently opened Millau Viaductvia Paris. "Series Seven, Episode Three"
*Car Ice Hockey / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, played an ice hockey match using
Suzuki Swifts, while Clarkson acted as referee. "Winter Olympics Special"
*Horse racing camera platform / Test: smooth ride. Clarkson reviewed the
Citroën C6and put it to work as a mobile camera platform covering a horse race. "Series Eight, Episode Five"
*Car Football 2 / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, staged another football match using Toyota Aygos against a new contender, the
Volkswagen Fox. "Series Eight, Episode Five"
*VIP chauffeur / Test: luxury. May conducted road tests in Japan of the
Mitsuoka Orochiand Galue, and used the Galue to chauffeur a Sumo wrestler and his manager to a tournament as a way to test if the car is "Japan's Rolls-Royce"cite episode | title = Top Gear | episodelink = Top Gear (series 11) | network = BBC Two| airdate = 2008-07-27 | seriesno = 11 | number = 6 | quote = "James May": Alan Partridge once said that Lexus is Japan's Mercedes-Benz, in which case the Mitsuoka Galue could be, but this is only a hunch, Japan's Rolls-Royce.] . "Series Eleven, Episode Six"
The programme will on occasion, sometimes to celebrate an anniversary, present short review films of non-contemporary cars to highlight why they are significant. These reviews are distinct from the various challenges involving old cars, because the subject matter is addressed in a more serious and factual manner. Reviews include:
The programme occasionally alters the end credits to reflect its locale, replacing every first name in the credits with one reminiscent of the area. In the "Winter Olympics Special" [cite web
title = Series 7 - Episode 7
work = Top Gear Episode Archive
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/episodes/series7episode7.shtml
accessdate = 2007-12-12] episode, filmed in Lillehammer, Norway; everybody was named Björn (except for Hammond, May and The Stig; who took the names Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid respectively), whilst in the "African Adventure Special" [cite web
title = Series 10 - Episode 4
work = Top Gear Episode Archive
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/episodes/series10episode4.shtml
accessdate = 2007-12-12] all were called Archbishop Desmond. Furthermore, in the Polar Special all first names in the ending credits were replaced with Sir Ranulph, in reference to the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.In Series 9, The America Challenge ending credits named Clarkson as 'Cletus Clarkson', Hammond as 'Earl Hammond, Jr.', May as 'Ellie May May', The Stig as 'Roscoe P. Stig' and replaced the first names of all other crew members with 'Billy Bob'.
"Top Gear" has always used an adaptation of
The Allman Brothers Band's instrumental hit "Jessica" as its theme song. Initially the show used part of the original Allmans' recording of the song, but later episodes of "Top Gear" use updated cover versions. For the original series run, the end credits music was "Out of the Blue", an instrumental from the 1976 Elton Johnalbum, " Blue Moves".
During series 6, May hosted a segment showing nominations for the greatest song to drive to, the final list of ten was voted for by write-in nominations on the "Top Gear" website, the top five were then submitted for phone vote by viewers of the show. Songs in the top 10 were:
Awards and nominations
In November 2005, "Top Gear" won an International Emmy in the Non-Scripted Entertainment category. [cite press release |title=BBC picks up two International Emmy Awards |publisher=
bbc.co.uk|date= 2005-11-23|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/11_november/23/emmys.shtml |accessdate=2005-12-28] In the episode where the presenters showed the award to the studio audience, Clarkson joked that he was unable to go to New York to receive the award since he was too busy writing the script for the show.
"Top Gear" has also been nominated in three consecutive years (2004–2006) for the
British Academy Television Awardsin the Best Feature category. Clarkson was also nominated in the best "Entertainment Performance" category in 2006. [ [http://www.bafta.org/site/Jahia/cache/offonce/pid/129 This year's nominations] . BAFTA. Retrieved on 18 April 2006.] In 2004 and 2005, "Top Gear" was also nominated for a National Television Award in the Most Popular Factual Programme category; it won the award in 2006 and 2007. Accepting the award in October 2007, Richard Hammond made the comment that they really deserved it this year, because he didn't have to crash to get some sympathy votes. [ [http://imdb.com/title/tt0163503/awards Awards for "Top Gear"] . IMDb. Retrieved on 1 January 2006.]
"Top Gear" presenters have also announced on the show that they have won some slightly lower profile awards. In Series 10, Richard Hammond won the award for the "Best TV Haircut" and James May won the award for the worst, while James May also won an award for Heat magazine's "weirdest celebrity crush" revealed during the news. In series 11, the Stig won an award from the Scouts for Services to Instruction. After revealing that, the Stig was shown "attacking" the Scouts, and the presenters coming to the conclusion that he is either terrified of Scouts or was a
"Top Gear" is often criticised for not featuring enough "affordable" cars, instead featuring expensive
supercars. In the final episode of series 10, the Ford Mondeo— historically one of the UK's best selling cars — was the show's Car of the Year despite it not being reviewed; the £350,000 Ascari A10and £235,000 Caparo T1were featured instead. The programme occasionally acknowledges this criticism and turns it into a joke. For example, during a news segment (Series 8, Episode 3), Clarkson mentioned a viewer who had phoned the BBC asking for more 'normal' cars to appear. He then displayed a picture of the up-coming Vauxhall Corsaon the set's TV screen for a few seconds without comment from either the other presenters or the audience, then moved on to the next item. And when introducing May's road test of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, Clarkson read out a letter reading "Dear Top Gear, why don't you feature more affordable cars, for normal people like me," Clarkson then rounded off the letter by saying 'From Mr. R. Abramovich, of Chelsea' implying that the letter is supposedly from multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich.
"Top Gear" has also been censured on many occasions for allegedly promoting irresponsible driving, [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4432279.stm |title='Petrolheads' under attack |work=BBC |date=2005-04-12 |accessdate=2008-12-28] causing ecological damage and favouring performance over fuel efficiency and conservation.
Clarkson himself has been critical of the BBC over handling of the programme. In the February 2006 issue of "Top Gear Magazine", Clarkson voiced his opinion that the BBC did not take "Top Gear" seriously. He also appears to be annoyed with BBC bosses for the length of the series and for often replacing the show with
snooker(which Clarkson labelled as "drunk men playing billiards" at the end of episode two of series 10), despite "Top Gear" having considerably higher viewing figures.cite web |url=http://www.topgear.com/content/features/stories/2006/02/stories/01/1.html |title=Clarkson's right on cue |last=Clarkson |first=Jeremy |authorlink=Jeremy Clarkson |publisher= Top Gear Magazine|date=2006-02-01 |accessdate=2008-07-12]
In July 2006 the BBC rejected a variety of complaints about the topics "Top Gear" chooses and the way they are covered by Clarkson, Hammond and May. The BBC argued that their "provocative comments are an integral part of the programme and are not intended to be taken seriously." Regarding offensive remarks traded between presenters and members of the audience, the BBC said "this is part of the appeal of the show [and] we trust most viewers are familiar enough with the style and tone of the show not to take offence." The BBC pointed out that they would act if such statements and actions were carried out with any degree of seriousness or if the programme breached legal and safety requirements. [cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/news/2006/07/26/34349.shtml |title="Top Gear - General approach taken by the programme" |accessdate=2006-08-11 |author=
BBCDead link|date=July 2008]
"Top Gear" was in negotiations to move to Enstone in north
Oxfordshire, close to the home of the Renault F1team's British base and to Clarkson's home in Chipping Norton, but has so far been unable to negotiate a deal after their initial application was blocked due to opposition by local citizens because of fears that "Top Gear" would create pollution and noise. [cite news |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1510959/Villagers-put-the-brake-on-Top-Gear.html |title=Villagers put the brake on Top Gear |work=Telegraph |date=2006-02-20 |accessdate=2006-02-20]
In 2004, Clarkson crashed a
Toyota Hiluxinto a tree during a segment on proving the sturdiness and reliability of the truck through a series of torture tests. The tree belonged to Churchill parish, Somerset. The villagers presumed that the damage had been accidental or vandalism had occurred until the Top Gear episode was broadcast. After the BBC was contacted, the director of Top Gear admitted guilt and the broadcaster paid compensation. [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/somerset/3509191.stm |title=BBC stumps up for tree stunt |work=BBC |date=2004-02-21 |accessdate=2006-01-09]
In 1998, Clarkson allegedly referred to those working on the
BMWstand as " Nazis", although BMW said they would not be complaining. cite news | title = Clarkson in the doghouse | work = BBC News Online| date = 1998-10-26| url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/201675.stm | accessdate = 2006-08-02] In a later incident in a 13 November 2005 "Top Gear" episode, the German government was said to be displeased that Clarkson, while talking about a car design that might be "quintessentially German", made a mock Nazi salute, and made references to the Hitlerregime and the German invasion of Poland [cite news | last = Hall | first = Alan | title = Germans up in arms over Clarkson's mocking Nazi salute | work = The Scotsman| publisher = Johnston Press| date = 2005-12-15| url = http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=2408932005 | accessdate = 2006-08-02 | quote = Clarkson raised his arm Nazi-style as he spoke about the German company BMW's Mini. Then, mocking the 1939 invasion that triggered the Second World War, he said it would have a satellite navigation system "that only goes to Poland". Finally, in a reference to Adolf Hitler's boast that his Third Reich would last ten centuries, Clarkson said the fan belt would last for 1,000 years The German government is said to be highly displeased: diplomats pointed out that, had Clarkson made the Nazi salute on German television, he could be facing six months behind bars as, joking or not, such behaviour is illegal under the country's post-war constitution.]
During the 13 November 2005 episode, a news segment featuring
BMW's MINI Concept from the Tokyo Motor Showshowcased a car that Hammond quoted as supposedly being "quintessentially British", the only added feature being an integrated tea set. Clarkson responded by mocking that they should build a car that is "quintessentially German". He suggested turn signals that displayed Hitler salutes, "a sat-nav that only goes to Poland" in reference to the Nazi invasion of Poland, and "ein fanbelt that will last a thousand years", a reference to Adolf Hitler's propagandaslogan of "the thousand-year Reich". These statements gained negative attention in the BritishFact|date=March 2008 and GermanFact|date=March 2008 news media, and led to viewers' complaints reaching the BBC Board of Governors. [cite news |url=http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=2408932005 |title=Germans up in arms over Clarkson's mocking Nazi salute |publisher=The Scotsman |accessdate=2006-08-02 Dead link|date=July 2008] In July 2006, the BBC Governors’ Programme Complaints Committee rejected the protests:
:"...the Committee did not believe that, when looking at the audience as a whole, they would have felt that the comments were anything more than Jeremy Clarkson using outrageous behaviour to amuse his audience, and that the remarks would not have led to anyone entertaining new or different feelings or concerns about Germans or Germany..." [cite web |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/text/apps_aprjun2006_text.html |title=BBC Complaints - Appeals to the Governors April to June 2006 |accessdate=2007-11-09 |date=July 2006]
In April 2007, Clarkson was criticized in the
Malaysian parliament for having described one of their cars, the Perodua Kelisa, as the worst in the world, built in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes. A Malaysian government minister refuted the claim, pointing out that no complaints had been received from UK customers who had bought the car. [cite news
title = Malaysia lambasts "Top Gear" host
quote =In one article, he said its name was like a disease and suggested it was built in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes.] cite web
last = McCusker
first = Eamonn
title = Clarkson:Heaven and Hell
publisher = DVD TImes
url = http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=59172
accessdate = 2007-04-21 ]
In December 2006, the BBC upheld complaints from four viewers after comments made by Jeremy Clarkson were considered to be derogatory references to
homosexualityand had the potential to offend and should not have been broadcast. In a programme broadcast in July 2006, Clarkson had agreed with a member of the audience that a Daihatsu Copenwas "a bit gay." He also described the vehicle as "ginger beer," taken to be [Cockney rhyming s _rh. url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6189163.stm |title="BBC condemns Clarkson 'gay' jibe" |date=2006-12-18 |accessdate=2006-12-18 |author= BBC]
"Top Gear" presenters have been criticised for their negative views and depiction of caravans; once claiming to have received 150 complaints after they destroyed a caravan on a 'caravan holiday' during one of many caravan destruction segments. [Top Gear - Series 8 Episode 7 2006.07.23 News Segment "Clarkson:...we were slightly rude about caravans... Hammond: Yeah, we sort of set one on fire a bit. Clarkson:...150 complaints.] James Tapper, writing in the British "Mail on Sunday" newspaper, claimed the episode's action had been staged and that
Dorsetemergency services had been paid around £1,000 by the BBC for a six-man fire crew to participate in the mock fire. A BBC spokeswoman confirmed that the fire had been planned for safety reasons and that viewers were not misled due to the stunt's slapsticknature. [cite news |url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=471541&in_page_id=1773 |title=BBC admit "Top Gear" caravan blaze was a fake |first=James |last=Topper |publisher= Mail On SundayNewspaper |date=2007-08-03 |accessdate=2008-07-28] Hammond also presented a show called "", where at the end of each programme a caravan is blown up with a different kind of explosive.
Dead cow incident
BBCand the UK media regulator OFCOMreceived complaints [cite web |url=http://www.brandrepublic.com/bulletins/br/article/632286/top-gear-dead-cow-stunt-garners-69-public-complaints-/ |title=Top Gear dead cow stunt garners 91 public complaints |date=2007-02-12 |accessdate=2008-07-28 |publisher=Brand Republic] about the dead cow tied to the roof of Clarkson's Camaroin the American Special (Series 9 Episode 3). However, the BBC defended the programme against the complaints received. The cow had died several days previously.
Train crash reconstruction
Another point of controversy regards the airing of a staged train crash in Series 9 Episode 5. The showing of a reconstruction of a collision between a train and a car positioned across the level crossing in
Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire, near Scunthorpewas criticised due to the Cumbria train crash only 2 days earlier, even though it was not caused by a track incursion. The reconstruction, which was organised by Network Railas part of its "Don't Run The Risk" campaign, was criticised by several people, including Anthony Smith, chief executive of the rail watchdog Passenger Focuswho said: "We need to raise awareness of the issue, but now is not the right time."cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6394845.stm |title=Top Gear to screen train stunt |accessdate=2007-02-25 |publisher= BBC|date=2007-02-25] However, this item had already been delayed several weeks because of an earlier fatal level crossing crash, and with only one programme remaining in the series and the frequency of level crossing accidents, it may have been considered that there was no "appropriate" time to show the film without "offending" somebody. A repeat of this episode due to be aired on the 1 March 2007 was not broadcast after another death on a level crossing earlier that morning. [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/6407025.stm |publisher=BBC News |title=One dead in level crossing crash |date=2007-03-01 |accessdate=2007-04-15] The episode was replaced with a "Best of Top Gear" episode.
Insensitivity to brain injury victims
The BBC apologised to a number of "Top Gear" viewers after Clarkson asked the returning Hammond the question "Are you now a mental?" May also offered a tissue in case he "dribbled" during the first episode of series 9. The comments were meant as a joke about the head injuries Hammond sustained during his crash before the series, but an apology was made after several viewers complained. [cite web |url=http://www.examiner.ie/breaking/index.aspx?c=ireland&jp=mhaukfauaukf |title=BBC apologises after Clarkson calls Hammond 'mental' |publisher=Irish Examiner |date=2007-03-06 |accessdate=2008-07-28]
Drinking while driving
During the "Polar Special", Jeremy Clarkson was seen to be drinking a gin and tonic whilst driving through an ice field in the Arctic. Despite the producer's claims that they were in international waters at the time, the BBC trust found that the scene could "glamorise the misuse of alcohol", and that the scene "was not editorially justified in the context of a family show pre-watershed". [cite news |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7485313.stm |publisher=BBC News |title=Top Gear rapped for alcohol use |date=2008-07-02 |accessdate=2008-07-03]
Groups such as the
Environmental Investigation Agencyhave criticised the BBC for allowing Top Gear to film in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Makgadikgadi salt pan in Botswana. [cite web
url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6281512.stm |title=Top Gear 'damaged African plains' |date=2007-07-08 |accessdate=2008-07-22|publisher=
BBC World News]
International "Top Gear" productions
In April 2007, the BBC reported on a "Sun" story that "Top Gear" had been in talks about creating an American version. The current presenters would remain as hosts, but the show would focus on American cars and include American celebrities.cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6539111.stm |title=BBC Top Gear in US TV deal talks |date=
2007-04-09|accessdate=2007-04-09 |publisher= BBC News] "The Sun" reported in July, however, that plans for an American version had been shelved, partly over Clarkson's misgivings about spending several months in the US, away from his family.cite web |url=http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2001320029-2007340124,00.html |title=The Sun It's Stop Gear for the States |date= 2007-07-24|accessdate=2007-07-25 |publisher= The Sun]
NBC announced it has ordered the pilot for an American version of "Top Gear", which will be produced by
BBC America, and presented by television and radio host Adam Carolla, stunt driver Tanner Foust, and television carpenter Eric Stromer. [cite web |url=http://www.nbcumv.com/broadcast/release_detail.nbc/entertainment-20080616000000-startyourengines.html |title=START YOUR ENGINES! NBC'S 'TOP GEAR' BUCKLES UP ITS HOSTS FOR HIGH-OCTANE PILOT FROM BBC WORLDWIDE AMERICA BASED ON INTERNATIONAL HIT FRANCHISE |date=2008-06-16 |publisher= NBC]
On 19 November 2007, it was revealed that a localised
Australian series of "Top Gear" would be produced by the Special Broadcasting Servicenetwork in conjunction with Freehand Productions, BBC Worldwide's Australasian partner. This announcement marks the first time a deal has been struck for a version of "Top Gear" to be produced exclusively for a foreign market. No indication has been given yet as to the exact makeup of the show, other than that it will have a distinct Australian style. [cite web |title=Car fans wanted for Aussie 'Top Gear' |publisher= NEWS.com.au|date=2007-11-19 |url=http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22782602-29277,00.html |accessdate=2007-11-19] SBS ran a competition to find hosts for the show, and in May 2008, SBS Television confirmed that the presenters for the Australian programme were to be Charlie Cox, Warren Brown, Steve Pizzatiand a local 'cousin' of The Stig. [cite web |title=SBS wheels out its Top Gear team |publisher=theaustralian.news.com.au |date=2008-05-29 |url=http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23775464-7582,00.html |accessdate=2008-05-29] "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson added, "I'm delighted that "Top Gear" is going to Australia. Maybe the first guest could be Jonny Wilkinson."cite news |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/tv--radio/australia-moves-into-top-gear/2007/11/19/1195321658126.html |title=Australia moves into top gear |date=2007-11-19 |work=The Sydney Morning Herald |accessdate=2008-02-16]
The first series of "Top Gear Australia" premiered on 29 September 2008. A second series was announced the following day.
* [http://www.bbcamerica.com/topgear "Top Gear" at BBCAmerica]
* [http://www.topgear.com/ "Top Gear" magazine website]
* [http://topgear.wikia.com Top Gear at Wikia]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5367516.stm BBC News article on "Top Gear's" history] (21 September 2006)
* [http://www.uktv.co.uk/index.cfm?uktv=standardHomepage.article&sID=5370 "Top Gear" on UKTV]
* [http://www.imcdb.org/movie_163503-Top-Gear.html List of Cars appearing on "Top Gear" courtesy of the]
* [http://www.needcoffee.com/2008/01/16/american-top-gear/ Needcoffee.com post and BBC Worldwide America press release regarding the American version] (15 January 2008)
- Top Photo: Series 1 host lineup from l to r: Jason Dawe,
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