Petrolheads will be pleased to know that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be back for a brand new series of Top Gear scheduled for January 27 on BBC2 at 8pm. Looking at the official site at topgear.com will certainly whet your appetite if you are a fan.
So what can we look forward to in the new series? More of the same I hope, the programme has it’s knockers, but I certainly think there is a case to be heard for Mr Clarkson being rather a misunderstood character, and if we ignore what the great British press and Points Of View has to say I don’t think there’s much argument that Top Gear is Top Entertainment.
The new series looks to have all the elements roughly stirred together that we know and love – the website depicts what looks like Clarkson shoehorned into some sort of Sinclair C5 type microcar surrounded by the inhabitants of Dragon’s Den. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what that is all about.
If I am guessing rightly, there will also be a rugby match played between two teams of cars as well as the usual car comparisons, latest sportscar technology reviews and opinions, plus The Stig testing Toyota’s new GT86 coupe. It won’t provide solutions to the UK’s economic problems nor will it offer solutions to global warming. In fact, it could be argued that it will more likely provide solutions to speed up global warming. But in a world where it is getting increasingly harder to scratch out a decent living and even harder to avoid tv programmes ramming down our throats the fact that life is hard, it’s a breath of fresh air to have a programme back that remembers it’s remit – to entertain.
Top Gear has developed it’s own unique niche since the first episode was launched in 1977 featuring presenters as diverse as Angela Rippon, Kate Humble, Tiff Needell and the near ubiquitous at the time, Noel Edmonds. Clarkson joined the team in 1988. The original format was somewhat different to what we now have, being a more serious and rather gentle car magazine show.
The introduction of Clarkson saw the show start to develop it’s now trademark sense of humour, but the show saw a massive drop in audience figures in when he later left the show. The relaunch of Top Gear as we now know it was the idea of producer Andy Wilman and Clarkson himself. Moving away from the magazine format to a studio based show saw Top Gear regain it’s crown as the top automotive tv show from new pretender Fifth Gear.
Channel 5 effectively stole away many of the people that had made Top Gear a success for Fifth Gear. Former Top Gear presenters Quentin Wilson, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Tiff Needell all were presenters, while former Top Gear producer, John Bentley became the producer of this new-kid-on-the-block before later becoming a presenter in his own right on The Gadget Show.
Despite the boyish humour and seemingly lavish budget that Top Gear now has – my favourite was the Vietnam Special where the presenters hilariously faced the challenge of travelling the 1,000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City in Saigon to Ha Long in the south in just 8 days. Their mode of transport most memorably being some rickety scooters – the show has a huge influence on both the manufacturer and the buying public. You certainly don’t want Clarkson describing your new release as “a box on wheels” as he did the Vauxhall Vectra.
So forget the January blues, the cold dark nights and the empty apres Christmas bank accounts, Top Gear is back.