May gets in the driv­ing seat for new se­ries

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

Quite a lot has changed since James May’s first three-part se­ries ex­am­in­ing the so­cial sig­nif­i­cance of af­ford­able au­to­mo­biles in the 20th cen­tury aired on BBC2. On its de­but in Au­gust 2014, James May’s Cars of the Peo­ple (Sun­day, BBC2, 9pm) was orig­i­nally plugged as a spin-off from Top Gear. But as May, and his two co-hosts Jeremy Clark­son and Richard Ham­mond have sub­se­quently gone onto other projects (in­clud­ing a new se­ries for Ama­zon Video due out late this year), for well-pub­li­cised rea­sons, this is now all May's own work. And it’s good to see him back on the Beeb af­ter his stint on doc­u­men­tary show Build­ing Cars Live last year. The first se­ries of Cars of the Peo­ple was crit­i­cised in some cir­cles, with some say­ing May’s ‘Jezza’ im­pres­sions, daft stunts and tongue-in-cheek bor­der­line racism made it a bit too much like Top Gear. How­ever, amongst all that fa­mil­iar­ity, there was ac­tu­ally a rather en­joy­able and richly re­searched se­ries about the his­tory of ev­ery­day cars. What’s re­fresh­ing about this pro­gramme is that the mo­tors fea­tured will never be tested on the likes of Top Gear. Why? Be­cause none have a top speed of 200mph or a pice tag of £100,000. In­deed, for all the Veyron and Fer­rari su­per­cars and pro­to­types pa­raded on Top Gear, most view­ers of that show will only ever drive run­abouts and fam­ily cars. That’s all we need and the most we can af­ford. So here May con­tin­ues to fo­cus our sights on the sharp end of the car mar­ket, and cel­e­brates the trans­port of the masses, the ev­ery­day cars that were cre­ated to get whole na­tions on the move. While some have been beloved mo­tor­ing icons (the Mini and the VW Bee­tle), some have be­come ob­jects of de­ri­sion, like the Lada and Austin Al­le­gro. May told driv­ing.co.uk: “It has been an au­to­mo­tive riot, and a re­veal­ing one: weeks of trav­el­ling the world driv­ing al­most ex­clu­sively cr*p cars.” Tonight, May kicks off the new se­ries with a look at how the car in­dus­try in Ger­many and Ja­pan blos­somed fol­low­ing the Se­cond World War. Ja­panese car mak­ers Honda, Toy­ota, Nis­san, and Isuzu, and their Ger­man coun­ter­parts Volk­swa­gan Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW played their part in the coun­tries be­com­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ants that far out­stripped the Al­lied na­tions that had just de­feated them.

Be­hind the wheel James May presents the doc­u­men­tary

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