ike 19th Century gunfighters facing off against each other in some gawd-awful street in the wild west, two of the world’s largest media organisations are about to go for their Colt 45s and pull the triggers. The BBC and Amazon are locked into the greatest face-off since the shootout at the OK Corral, as the former’s new version of Top Gear is about to take on the new web-accessed motoring show from Amazon hosted by the Unholy Trinity – Clarkson, Hammond, and May.
Both shows will be celebrity-heavy, the BBC packing in the presenters to counter the collective appeal of the three most popular motoring commentators on the globe. The cars will fly, the rubber will burn, vomit will be encouraged for its comedic effect, and the odd TV producer may still get punched out. Can’t wait.
Yet somewhere in the recesses of my mind I can hear echoes of the warnings that the great British satirist of the 1960s, Malcolm Muggeridge, issued about the takeover of contemporary culture by the celebrity cult. A halfcentury ago, this articulate former WW2 spy was saying that if celebrity became the dominant feature of television then civilisation was headed for its greatest reversal since the dark ages. The committed moralist and journalist, who exposed the genocide of 4.5 million Ukrainians by the Russians in the mid1930s, did all he could to hold the rising tide of fandom back, calling the Beatles ‘four vacant youths’ and the British