Fifth Gear hits top speed in Mzansi to film motoring mayhem.
Season 25 Thursdays (from 10 September) History Channel 20:30
When it comes to TV car shows, there are only two that viewers want to watch: Top Gear (2002current) and Fifth Gear (2002current), which has been labelled “that other car show”. We were in the driver’s seat recently when Fifth Gear’s Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson raced into the country to shoot the brand-new season…
What brings you guys to SA now? Tiff: I don’t know [Laughs]. History Channel has the series and we have a lot of viewers down here. They said, “Go to South Africa,” and here we are! Vicki: The scenery is just stunning. Tiff: It’s always a great place to come. So what are the logistics of filming a season of Fifth Gear? Vicki: Sometimes it’s a phonecall like, “Hey, go to South Africa and drive!” Tiff: We all come with ideas and have input. I know a lot of people in motoring out here and we got to test with the Dakar team. We’re a small team: us drivers, two camera guys, a sound man who’s the researcher too and a director. We all help each other. We’ve got a fraction of the budget of Top Gear and we make a show that we think is for real car fans, whereas Top Gear is for the entertainment. We’re a very different show. Vicki: It’s great because there’s a market for both shows and we both have our fans and audiences. How’s your relationship with the [now-ex] Top Gear guys, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond? Vicki: Really good [Laughs]. Tiff: I still do the Top Gear festivals, so I was here in Joburg at Kyalami about four years ago. Vicki: My husband’s the series director for Top Gear, so I’m literally sleeping with the enemy. Did you see TV and motoring journalism in your future when you started your careers? Tiff: You were a pig farmer, Victoria. Vicki: My father was a pig farmer – I wanted to be a Formula One racing driver. I went straight into car magazines and journalism. I raced carts when I was 12, so I feel very, very lucky to be where I’ve ended up. Tiff: I didn’t have a rich pig-farming daddy, so I didn’t do carts. I was racing
Fifth Gear burnt rubber down in CT. Tiff and Vicki went joyriding around SA.