I’m a big fan of the British sort-of-motoring-show Top Gear. It has to be, far and away, the most entertaining car show both for people that love cars and people that are indifferent to them. The show is also quite well known for causing controversy – just take a brief look at the Wikipedia page for Top Gear controversies – and the latest bombshell admitted to by former-host-sacked-for-punching-a-producer-over-a-cold-dinner Jeremy Clarkson is a doozy:
One of Top Gear’s most hilarious and memorable segments – in which Clarkson drives (er, rolls) the three-wheeled Reliant Robin around England – was staged!
If you haven’t seen the segment, take 7 and a half minutes (or just the first 10 seconds) and check it out:
While it probably comes as a shock to very few that it was staged, here’s what Jeremy Clarkson said about the production of this segment in his column in the Sunday Times:
TO JUDGE from the letters I get and the remarks in the street, it seems the most memorable thing I did on Top Gear was a short segment about the Reliant Robin. You may remember: I drove it around Sheffield and it kept falling over.
Well, now’s the time to come clean. A normal Reliant Robin will not roll unless a drunken rugby team is on hand. Or it’s windy. But in a headlong drive to amuse and entertain, I’d asked the backroom boys to play around with the differential so that the poor little thing rolled over every time I turned the steering wheel.
Naturally, the health and safety department was very worried about this and insisted that the car be fitted with a small hammer that I could use, in case I was trapped after the roll, to break what was left of the glass.
Undeniably the best part about Top Gear is not the cars – it’s the chemistry between the three hosts. This on-and-off screen chemistry was probably best demonstrated when Clarkson was eventually fired last year. The other two presenters on the show – Richard Hammond and James May – turned down what I imagine was a lot of money from the BBC to rejoin with Clarkson to make a much-anticipated-as-yet-unnamed-car-show for Amazon Video. With 36 planned episodes (at least right now), I’m quite excited for its release at the end of 2016.
If you’re unfamiliar with the chemistry of the trio, one of the more amusing regular episode segments featuring all three presenters has to be their “Campervan Challenge”, in which each host modifies a regular street car to become a (more or less) full-featured motor home. Here’s a bit to whet your appetite:
Of course, with the rise of this new Amazon show, the BBC is trying desperately to save the Top Gear brand by bringing in a new presenter(s) and a new format, but that’s not exactly gone well. Lately, stories have been circulating in the British and entertainment press about the host line-up in doubt, and rumors of the primary host, Chris Evans, being unable to talk while driving and getting physically sick after being driven around a track. Suffice to say, the future of Top Gear is doubtful.
Ever helpful, though, Richard Hammond has some advice for sharpening the skills necessary to host a car show: