Top Gear: Find Out The Show’s Origins And More
Top Gear is an Emmy award winning car-based BBC television series produced by BBC Birmingham. It first started broadcasting on BBC2 back in 1977 and consisted of a 30-minute magazine type program presented by William Woollard, Angela Rippon and Noel Edmonds.
In 2002, the show was completely transformed and relaunched in a new one-hour-long, studio-based format made by the BBC in London. Top Gear is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and also features a test driver known as The Stig. The program is estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide.
First run episodes were broadcasted in the United Kingdom on BBC Two, and since Series 14, also on BBC HD. Top Gear is also shown on Dave, BBC America, BBC Canada, RTÉ Two in Ireland, Canvas in Belgium, Nine Network, GO! in Australia, Prime TV in New Zealand, 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 Russia. Episodes of the Australian version premiered on 29 September 2008 and NBC was holding the American version for broadcast in February or March 2009, as a possible mid-season replacement, but later dropped it from their schedule before production resumed.
The show has received acclaim for its visual style and presentation, as well as considerable criticism for its content and comments made by presenters.
History of Top Gear
The video below show the opening to the first ever series of Top Gear.
Top Gear started in 1977 as a local program made by BBC Birmingham (Pebble Mill) and was broad casted on BBC2. Presenters included Noel Edmonds and William Woollard, with contributions by Frank Page, Sue Baker, Tony Mason and Chris Goffey. The show’s theme music was “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers, although remixed versions were used after 1999.
For much of the original series’ lifespan, Elton John’s instrumental “Out Of The Blue” played over the closing credits. According to its original producer, David Lancaster, the idea for the name came from the unrelated radio series Top Gear.
Originally, Top Gear was a magazine show reviewing new car models and other car-related issues such as road safety. Other features included classic car events and motorsport, the latter often rallying with Tony Mason, Roger Clark’s co-driver.
Watch a 1981 Top Gear review of the Vauxhaul Cavalier below.
In 1987, Jon Bentley (now a presenter on Five’s Gadget Show) became one of the show’s producers. During this period new presenters were added including former Formula One driver Tiff Needell and in late 1988, Performance Car Magazine journalist Jeremy Clarkson also joined the show making it more humorous, controversial, and more critical. Due to these changes the program saw a massive boost in its audience.
Between 1988 and 1991, the program organised a competition each year to find a new rally driver with the prize being entry into that year’s RAC Rally.
In 1991, William Woollard left the show. Around the same time, Quentin Willson, a former used car salesman, joined. The 1990s also saw the addition of a new female presenter, Michele Newman, who still appears on ITV’s Pulling Power. Other presenters included Steve Berry, whose specialty was motorbikes, and racing driver Vicki Butler-Henderson, who joined in 1997.
Despite the show receiving much criticism as being overly macho, encouraged irresponsible driving behavior and ignored the environment, it managed to pull in huge audiences becoming BBC2′s Top viewed program with audiences over 5 million from 1988.
Top Gear became hugely influential with motor manufacturers, since a critical word from the team could have a severe negative effect on sales. One such example is the original Vauxhall Vectra which Clarkson said: “I know it’s the replacement for the Cavalier. I know. But I’m telling you it’s just a box on wheels.” However, even more critical statements did not affect sales of the Toyota Corolla and extreme praise did not help the Renault Alpine GTA/A610.
Demise and relaunch
Following many well-known presenters’ departure in 1999/2000 the Top Gear audience fell from a peak of six million to under three million. Initially, James May took over Clarkson’s spot, presenting reviews of vehicles including the Rover 75 and Lexus IS200.
Following Clarkson’s departure, the program was jointly presented by Quentin Willson and Kate Humble, who ran an ongoing test throughout the program between reports. Brendan Coogan (who had joined in 1998), left the show a year later after being convicted of drunk driving.
In 2000, Jason Barlow left and joined the Channel 4′s driven. The program ran almost continuously between September 2000 and October 2001, and despite regularly being the most watched show on BBC Two, the channel decided the format needed to be dramatically refreshed.
In 2002, Channel 5 launched Fifth Gear, a car show featuring many of the former Top Gear presenters including Tiff Needell, Quentin Willson and Vicki Butler-Henderson. The show was produced by former Top Gear producer, Jon Bentley. While most of the production team moved from the BBC to Five to create Fifth Gear, Jason Barlow was still under contract to the BBC and went on to front the new program “Wrong Car, Right Car”, which ran for two series and 23 episodes. The name change to “Fifth Gear” was required as the BBC would not relinquish the rights to the Top Gear name.
After the first series of Fifth Gear was completed, the BBC decided to relaunch Top Gear, but in a new studio-based format as opposed to the magazine format used until the cancellation. The show was again presented by Jeremy Clarkson, joined by Richard Hammond, and Jason Dawe. James May went on to replace Jason Dawe after the second series.
The pre-cancellation show is referred to as “Old Top Gear” when mentioned on the new show due to the differences in style.
Re-launched Top Gear
Jeremy Clarkson, who helped the original series reach its peak in the 1990s, 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 broadcasted in 2002 at the new Top Gear studio, located at Dunsfold Aerodrome and business 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 hangar is used for studio recording with a standing audience.
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 Hammond and Jason Dawe, with James May replacing Dawe after the first series.
The Stig, an anonymous, helmeted racing driver, was introduced as the test driver. New segments were also added, including “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”, “The Cool Wall”, “The News”, “Power Laps”, and one off features such as races, competitions and the regular destruction of caravans and, more recently, Morris Marinas.
In early 2006, the BBC had planned to move the filming site from Dunsfold to Enstone, Oxfordshire for filming of the eighth series of Top Gear, but the move was rejected by West Oxfordshire council due to noise and pollution concerns. Filming of the series went ahead at Dunsfold in May despite not having a permit to do so, 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” (now known as TeeGee), in a few studio and film segments of that series.
On 20 September 2006, Richard Hammond was seriously injured while driving a Vampire turbojet drag racing car at up to 314 miles per hour (505 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 Executive carried out inquiries into the accident.Filming resumed on 5 October 2006.
The ninth series began on 28 January 2007 and included footage of Hammond’s crash. The first show of the ninth series attracted higher ratings than the finale of Celebrity Big Brother and the final episode of the series had 8 million viewers, BBC Two’s highest ratings for a decade.
A special program, Top Gear: Polar Special, 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 from Resolute, Nunavut, Canada, with James May and Jeremy Clarkson traveling in a ‘polar modified’ Toyota Hilux, and Richard Hammond on a dog drawn sled. 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 100 miles (160 km). The recorded 1996 location is the target used by Polar Challenge and was used by the Top Gear team as their destination; the Geographic North Pole is approximately 800 miles (1,300 km) further north.
On 9 September 2007, Top Gear participated in the 2007 Britcar 24-hour race at Silverstone, where the hosts (including The Stig) drove a race prepared, second hand diesel BMW 330d to come 3rd in its class and 39th overall. The car was fueled using bio-diesel refined from crops shown during a tractor review in the previous series.
In 2008, the show was adapted into a live format called Top Gear Live. The tour started 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 the events were described as an attempt 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”.
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 would be a new “occasional regular host”. This was revealed to be Top Gear Stunt Man. The series’ executive producer, Andy Wilman, also revealed that future program will have less time devoted to big challenges:
“We’ve looked back at the last two or three runs and noticed that a program 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.”
Series 14, broadcast in autumn 2009, attracted criticism from some viewers, who perceived that the show was becoming predictable with an over-reliance on stunts and forced humor at the expense of serious content. On the BBC’s Points of View broadcast 13 December 2009, Janice Hadlow, the controller of BBC Two, rejected such comments, observing that she was still pleased with Top Gear’s ratings and audience appreciation figures. However, on 20 December, Andy Wilman admitted that the three presenters were now “playing to their TV cartoon characters a bit too much”. He added, “It’s fair to say this incarnation of Top Gear is nearer the end than the beginning, and our job is to land this plane with its dignity still intact. But ironically, that does mean trying new things to the last, even if they screw up, because, well, it means you never stopped trying.”
As of May 2010, series 15 is currently in production. The first episode of the series was aired on 27 June on BBC2 and BBC HD.
Top Gear Races
The show regularly features long-distance (or, as Clarkson refers to them, “epic”) races. These typically feature Clarkson (or one of the other presenters) driving a car against other forms of transport. The challenges usually involve 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 favor the latter. The program 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 and very powerful racing cars against new showroom cars.
Top Gear Challenges
In the first series, they 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 challenges were introduced with the tag-line “How hard can it be?”. These included challenges where the presenters attempt to build a convertible Renault Espace, being roadies for The Who, and participating in the Britcar 24-hour endurance race at 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 typically involve long journeys to evaluate the cars’ reliability and fuel economy, and a race track event to determine performance.
Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car
In each episode, a celebrity is interviewed by Clarkson. Then, they 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, which has allowed several celebrities to return, including Boris Johnson, now Mayor of London.
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. Clarkson hinted in the final episode of the fourteenth series that the Lacetti may be replaced with a new reasonably-priced car for the fifteenth series, and this has since been confirmed by Top Gear magazine. The new car was confirmed in the first episode of the fifteenth series to be a Kia Cee’d.
Ellen MacArthur set the fastest lap time in the Liana, with a time of 1:46.7. The fastest lap time in the Chevrolet Lacetti was set by Jay Kay with a time of 1:45.83. His performance in the final episode of series 11 replaced Simon Cowell’s at the head of the leader board. Kevin McCloud was second with a time of 1:45.87, Brian Johnson was third, and Simon Cowell fourth, both with a time of 1:45.9 on the board. The current fastest time is that of Tom Cruise in the Kia Cee’d with a lap time of 1:44.2.
There have been several mishaps in the past with this feature. Michael Gambon went around the final corner of the track on two wheels, prompting Clarkson to rename the corner in Gambon’s honour. Lionel Richie and Trevor Eve each lost a wheel and David Soul destroyed 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 One drivers’ leader board, because of the considerable skill advantage F1 drivers have. Rubens Barrichello is currently top of the time sheet, with a time of 1.44.3, 0.1 seconds ahead of Top Gear’s resident driver The Stig, although 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 three 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 are that the car being tested must be road-worthy, commercially available, and able to negotiate a speed bump (sometimes referred to as a ‘sleeping policeman’). There is a separate unofficial board of times for non-production cars, such as the Aston Martin DBR9 Le Mans racer.
Cars that have recorded ineligible lap times on the Top Gear track include the Renault F1 car, at fifty nine seconds, and the Caparo T1, at 1:10.6, both disqualified due to the sleeping policeman requirement, as well as the Ferrari FXX, at 1:10.7, which was disqualified for using slick tyres.
The fastest road-legal car that met the Power Lap requirements has been the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport with a lap time of 1:16.8.
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, known as ‘The Cool Wall’. The categories are, from left to right; “Seriously Uncool”, “Uncool”, “Cool”, and “Sub Zero”. According to Andy Wilman, the show’s producer, any given car’s coolness factor rested on various attributes that are not necessarily related to the quality of the car itself. For example, Wilman suggests that “fashion cars” such as the Audi TT, PT Cruiser, Jaguar S-Type and Volkswagen Beetle are uncool because they “make a massive impact for five minutes and then look clichéd and vaguely ridiculous.”
On the show, Clarkson has stated that cars were deemed cool by the extent to which he believed they would impress actress Kristin Scott Thomas, and later, BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce. Both have since been the celebrity guest for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature; 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 car being a G-Wiz, 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, the “DB9 Super Cool Fridge”, on a table to the right of the board, was introduced after Jeremy declared that the Aston Martin DB9 was too cool even to be classified as “Sub-Zero”. It initially contained just the DB9, but was eventually joined by the Aston Martin V8 Vantage in 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 Spyder in 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 humor 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 (although in the last episode of series 13 Hammond got his own back by using a scissor lift to place a Nissan 370Z in the Sub-Zero section, which was then stopped by Clarkson pressing the emergency stop button, thus he could put the Pagani Zonda Cinque, Hammond’s “favourite car in the world”, and 5 photos of Hammond himself in the Seriously Uncool section). Clarkson sometimes uses more extreme methods such as burning the card depicting the car in question, or once even taking a chainsaw to the wall when Hammond dared to try and place a Ducati 1098 motorbike on the wall. Clarkson has even destroyed Hammond’s microphone to stop him.
Hammond has occasionally had his revenge: after a series of disagreements with Clarkson’s choices, he snatched the card on which a BMW M6 was featured from Clarkson and then ran into the audience, leading to a fight between the two and to Hammond eating the card, preventing it from being used. During series six Clarkson had slipped and had surgery resulting in two intervertebral discs in his back 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 Five rivals, Fifth Gear), and was not used during the subsequent tenth series. The burnt wall was present during episode 3 of series 10, when Hammond was testing the auto-parking Lexus LS 600 next to it. A new Cool Wall was introduced in the second episode of series eleven.
A common theme on Top Gear is an approach to reviewing cars which combines standard road tests and opinions with an extremely unusual circumstance, or with a challenge to demonstrate a notable characteristic of the vehicle.
This has included several reviews, including “Toyota Hilux Destruction”, featured in series three, episodes five and six. Various methods were employed by Clarkson and May to try to destroy a fourth generation Toyota Hilux, thereby proving its strength. The ‘trials’ included dropping the Hilux from a crane, setting the vehicle on fire, crashing it into a tree, driving it through a big shed (with a sign which said ‘Top Gear Production Office’), leaving it out in the sea, dropping a caravan on it, slamming it with a wrecking ball, and finally having it hoisted to the roof of a tower-block that was subsequently demolished with explosives. The heavily damaged (but still driveable, without the use of any new parts) Hilux now stands on a plinth in the Top Gear studio.
Another such review featured a Ford Fiesta, after Hammond read out a letter from a viewer complaining that “Top Gear cannot review cars properly any more.” Clarkson gave the model a sarcastic, but thorough, appraisal and was then pursued around Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke, Hampshire, by a Chevrolet Corvette C6. The Fiesta was then used as a beach landing craft with the Royal Marines.
Occasionally, many cars are featured and reviewed inside one segment. In the “Scooter Road Test Russian Roulette Challenge” of series six, episode nine, Hammond and May worked as ScooterMen 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 have to review the vehicles in the presence of the owners.
Exotic or foreign cars are occasionally also reviewed in unusual ways. In the “VIP Chauffeur” test of series eleven, episode six, May conducted road tests in Japan of the Mitsuoka Orochi and 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”.
Also in series 14 Clarkson tested the Renault Twingo in Belfast following a complaint from one of the city’s residents. Despite catching a cold on the ferry getting there, he admitted he loved the car. However, he did some rather strange things, including driving it “upside down” in the Belfast Sewage System. In a joke gag, Clarkson ended up driving the car into Belfast Lough after an attempt to land it on the HSC Stena Voyager after missing boarding times. Throughout the review it was revealed Ross Kemp was in the boot.
In series 15 episode 3, Clarkson, Hammond and May took turns testing three high performance sports saloons viz. Porsche Panamera Turbo, Maserati Quattroporte and an Aston Martin Rapide. The presenters acted as chauffeurs to a real wedding and the couples were invited to the studio for the filming of the show where they were presented a toilet seat with the pictures of the three presenters on it so that they would remember them whenever they went to the toilet.
Car of the Year
At the end of each autumn series the hosts present an award to their favorite car of the year. The only criterion for the award is that all three presenters must come to a unanimous choice. Winners have included:
2002 Land Rover Range Rover
2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom
2004 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2005 Bugatti Veyron or Audi RS4
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
2007 Ford Mondeo or Subaru Legacy Outback
2008 Caterham Seven R500
2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni
2010 Citroen DS3
2011 Range Rover Evoque
From 2003 to 2006, Top Gear conducted an annual survey which consults thousands of UK residents on their car-ownership satisfaction. The survey asks respondents to score cars on build quality, craftsmanship, driving experience, ownership costs, and customer care. While for legal reasons the survey is now conducted via the Top Gear magazine, the results are still used on the show. The survey, formerly undertaken in conjunction with J.D. Power, is now conducted by Experian. Based on these weighted criteria, the best and worst ranked cars from the survey are:
Year Best Ranked Worst Ranked
2003 Jaguar XJ Volkswagen Sharan
2004 Honda S2000 Mercedes M-Class
2005 Honda S2000 Peugeot 807
2006 Honda S2000 Peugeot 807
For the special episodes, the program alters the end credits to reflect its locale, replacing everybody’s first name with one reminiscent of the area. The first time this was done was for the “Winter Olympics Special” episode, filmed in Lillehammer, Norway, where everybody was named Björn after Björn Ulvaeus, except for Hammond, May and The Stig, who took the names Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid as a reference to the other members of ABBA, even though ABBA is from Sweden, not Norway.
The end credits of the American Road Trip episode in series 9 named Clarkson as ‘Cletus Clarkson’, Hammond as ‘Earl Hammond Jr.’, May as ‘Ellie May May’, The Stig as ‘Rosco P. Stig’ and replaced the first names of all other crew members with ‘Billy Bob’.
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, who had also made an appearance early in the episode. In the African Adventure Special all were called Archbishop Desmond, while for the Vietnam road trip special, everyone’s first name was replaced with Francis Ford as a nod to the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now.
In the Sport Relief 2008 special ‘Top Gear Ground Force’ all the crew’s first names were replaced with ‘Monty’ in reference to the celebrity gardener Monty Don. Clarkson was renamed ‘Alan Clarkson’ and May as ‘Charlie May’ in reference to Ground Force and Hammond as ‘Handy Hammond’ referencing Changing Rooms.
The one regular episode where the credits were tampered with was the last episode of series 8. Reflecting the episode’s main challenge, Clarkson, Hammond and May’s first names were altered to those supposedly typical of van drivers; Lee, Wayne and Terry respectively.
The end card of Series Fifteen, Episode 1 stated that the episode was made in 2020, with an additional “X” accidentally added on to the Roman numeral date; the presenters admitted this mistake in the next episode.
Top Gear Awards and Nominations
In November 2005, Top Gear won an International Emmy in the Non-Scripted Entertainment category. 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 Awards in the Best Feature category. Clarkson was also nominated in the best “Entertainment Performance” category in 2006. In 2004 and 2005, Top Gear was also nominated for a National Television Award in the Most Popular Factual Program category; it won the award in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 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.
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. All three presenters have won the 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 Girl Guide.
At the end of 2009 Top Gear was voted best program of the decade in a Channel 4-commissioned survey, The Greatest TV Shows of the Noughties, ahead of The Apprentice and Doctor Who in second and third places respectively.
On 19 November 2007, it was revealed that a localized Australian series of Top Gear would be produced by the Special Broadcasting Service network 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 was given as to the exact makeup of the show, other than that it would have a distinct Australian style. SBS ran a competition to find hosts for the show, and in May 2008 confirmed that the presenters for the Australian programme were to be Charlie Cox, Warren Brown, Steve Pizzati and a local ‘cousin’ of The Stig.
James Morrison replaced Charlie for the second season of Top Gear Australia. Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson added, “I’m delighted that Top Gear is going to Australia.” It was announced that the Nine Network had secured the rights to the local and UK versions from 2010 on both its Nine and Go!
On 14 October 2008, the Top Gear website confirmed that a Russian edition of the program was scheduled for production by the end of that year. Initially, 15 episodes were scheduled. It was revealed on 20 December that the pilot, branded Top Gear: Russian Version, was filmed for broadcast on 22 February 2009. The format is similar to its British counterpart, with three hosts: Nikolai Fomenko, Oscar Kuchera, and Mikhail Petrovsky.
First news of an American version of Top Gear surfaced in January 2006, when the official Top Gear website ran a feature about the filming of an American version of the show, produced by the Discovery Channel. The pilot featured Bruno Massel as one of the hosts, but was not picked up by the network, which later began running edited versions of Series 1-5 of the UK original.
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. Plans for an American version were eventually shelved, partly over Clarkson’s misgivings about spending several months in the U.S., away from his family.
NBC announced it ordered a pilot episode for an American version of Top Gear, to be produced by BBC Worldwide America. The pilot, filmed in June 2008, was presented by television and radio host Adam Carolla, stunt driver Tanner Foust, and television carpenter Eric Stromer. However, following the failure of a car-themed drama, NBC did not place the program on its schedule, indicated it planned to hold it as a spring/summer (2009) season replacement. Eventually, NBC dropped the show.
In a February 2010 appearance in Australia, Jeremy Clarkson commented that the U.S. version of the show had been “canned”.
The show found new life in February 2010, when it was announced that cable channel History had picked up the series and ordered between 10 and 12 episodes. The show began production in August 2010, with the premiere hitting the screens in the Fall of 2010.
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