Revhead favourite turns into local lane
WHEN there’s already a perfectly good, high- rating motoring program called Top Gear, it’s evidence of either serious programming cojones or utter stupidity to make an Australian version. According to SBS, the original has been seen by 500 million people in 120 countries. The waiting list for audience tickets to the British show is rumoured to be ridiculous: something like 40 years.
The precedents for mounting a local version of a hit lifestyle show from overseas aren’t terrific. The cringe- inducing local version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy springs to mind. ‘‘ Oh my God,’’ you could almost hear the producers yelp, ‘‘ we forgot to get a personality.’’ Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the local version of that program, as the German, Spanish, French and British versions all met with a swift demise; only the Portuguese version survived for an entire season before getting the chop.
It would be very easy to look at that and suggest that producers across the world made one grave error: they imagined the charisma and appeal of the original Queer Eye team was a product that could be duplicated.
And how many alternative international versions of Top Gear, in its 10th year in its present form, are in production across the world? Nada. Not one. That is until our own brave little possums Charlie Cox, Warren Brown and Steve Pizzati stick their heads above the parapet tonight.
Cox has long experience as a broadcaster and has demonstrated his passion for performance cars by winning several British Touring Car Championships.
Brown is a man I see regularly in the lift on his way up to The Australian ’ s sister publication The Daily Telegraph , where he is the cartoonist laureate.
Viewers, however, will likely know him as the bearded crackpot who, in 2005, came up with the idea of retracing the famous 1907 car race from Peking to Paris, using 100- yearold vehicles. The resulting television show was compulsive viewing and re- runs keep turning up on pay TV.
The Melbourne- born Pizzati is an advanced driving instructor and a race driver for Porsche Australia.
So, will the show differ sufficiently from its sardonic yet incredibly entertaining British parent? Will it demonstrate enough charisma to hold motoring audiences captive, and capitalise on its ability to review cars that are available here, test- driven in local conditions?
Will it be a case of send in the clones or shall we witness the debut of an appealing hybrid?
As SBS declined to send out preview tapes, we’ll all find out together when the green flag goes up tonight.
Brave try: Australian Top Gear ’ s Charlie Cox, Warren Brown and Steve Pizzati