Television The return of motoring’s three wise men
It’s remarkable that one of the world’s most popular shows TOP GEAR ( Sunday, BBC TWO, 8pm) didn’t get a Christmas special last year, but a little over a month later wefinally get to see those three ( occasionally) wise men bringing gifts of TV gold, frank car sense and mirth to Sunday nights once more.
Of course, Jeremy Clarkson didn’t get where he is today without being controversial, so you can expect a few viewersaroundtheworldtaking umbridge at his deliberately incendiary comments, while the ubiquitous Richard Hammondoffershisviewson thelatest motorsbeforerushing off to his next TV project.
AsforCaptainSlow? Well, James May has proved to be far more than just a comic foil outside of the TG studio, though it’s still great fun to see him punctuate the latest helping of cock- ups and stunts.
For the first of the new run, Clarkson tries to con- struct a tiny car, tests it on the streets of London and then pitches his concept in the Dragons’ Den.
Elsewhere, May samples the Bentley Continental GT Speed, and Hammond gives us his verdict on the new Pagani Huayra hypercar.
Top Gear 2013 is all a far cry from those early days when original hostess Angela Rippon showed the best way of controlling your car rified regional show, and the chancesofMsRipponandMr Edmonds offending anyone were about as likely as a tousle- haired young journalist from Rotherham predicting thatonedayhewouldbecome an international TV star.
While Clarkson may get a fewbacksupandCaptainSlow’s love of statistics may be more annoying than drivers hogging the middle lane of the motorway, there’s no doubt that for many, Andy Willman’s production is, to paraphrase Jeremy, “The best car show... in the world”.
Little wonder celebrities have been falling over themselves to be the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Grand Designs veteran KevinMcCloudhadsuchagood time racing round Gambon a few years ago, he’s desperate to make another appearance.
“I’d love to go back,” he explains. “I waspipped by a twentieth of a second fromthetopof the board, having had no training really except that day, so I’ve had a little bit of training now and a bit of practice so I’m determined to get to the very top.”
For the first of the new run, it’s Homeland’s recent Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis in the hot seat, so it’ll be intriguing to see if hecancompletethe courseaheadoftrackrivals McCloud and Cowell.