Road’s all the rage with boofhead trinity
Top Gear 7.30pm, SBS
THIS British paean to boganism is estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide, which is just as well. After tonight’s episode the radio careers of the car show’s three hosts are as good as over.
Top Gear ’ s maker, the BBC, appears to have taken the view that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few in letting hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May loose on 224,000 of its Southern Counties Radio listeners.
The trio is dispatched to host a three- hour drive- time program and by the time the debacle wraps up, the horrified faces of Southern Counties’ producers indicate they may have some choice words for Beeb management. From Clarkson’s introductory: ‘‘ Right . . . um’’, the radio program is an unmitigated disaster.
As the situation degenerates, May drives a Southern Counties sports reporter to rage over cricket scores and Clarkson urges police to shoot the owner of a stranded caravan during his traffic report.
The boofhead antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May are what have made this once- conventional auto show a global hit just a few years after it was put on hiatus thanks to dwindling ratings. They have also sparked some debate over what direction the show should take. Future series — SBS is screening this episode about a year behind BBC2 — devote an increasing amount of time to motoring- related stunts that don’t have a lot in common with the car reviews that have been Top Gear ’ s bread and butter since the late 1970s.
Some viewers have complained about the program’s changing format. But the stunts, which in the first episode of this season resulted in the three hosts setting fire to a carwash, are by far the most entertaining part of the show.
That’s not to take too much away from the car reviews. These are handled with panache and humour that is buoyed by Top Gear ’ s glorious production values. Tonight Clarkson puts a Jaguar XK through its paces alongside a BMW 650 and a Mercedes SL350. He also pits a Corvette Z06 against a blazing trail of petrol.
Hammond, meanwhile, mounts a hotted- up four- wheel- drive called a Tomcat ( not to be confused with the two- headed hydra Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) and races an even more hotted- up kayak around an Icelandic lake.
Celebrity chef and renowned swearer Gordon Ramsay sits down for a chat with Clarkson and takes a run around the Top Gear test track as this week’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. The BBC’s censors spend as much time with their finger on the bleep button as Ramsay spends with his foot on the gas.
Speed thrills: The decidedly un- PC Jeremy Clarkson