If you hate caravans, detest the Morris Marina and loathe ‘bicyclists’ but love supercars, enjoy ridiculous races and adore Jeremy Clarkson’s shirt/jacket/trouser combinations, then let me tell you about the upcoming season 20 of Top Gear.
But first, let’s just take a look at what’s made Top Gear one of BBC’s most popular programmes.
We’ve enjoyed much chaos since Top Gear’s revamp in 2002 – gone were the days of dreary reviews on family estates and economical hatchbacks; on and up with supercars, destruction and inane but amusing banter.
At first, viewers were a little unsure of the concept and complaints poured in either about one of Clarkson’s “introspective” thoughts on politics/environment/gender or the fact most viewers wouldn’t be able to afford the supercars reviewed. After a while, viewers accepted Jezza’s opinions and understood ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’, whilst others preferred the supercar coverage, as you previously never got the chance to see them perform – I think the dismissal of standard cars was excepted thanks to the internet and the many review websites.
To make this article a little more comprehensive, let’s get the nicknames out of the way.
Jeremy Clarkson – Jezza, The Orangutan – due to Jeremy’s lanky and lumbering body.
James May – Captain Slow – Mr. May is renowned for driving cautiously and the master of getting lost. His favourite saying is, “Oh Cock”.
Richard Hammond – Hamster – Again, this name was given due to size, as in “Richard The Hamster Hammond”.
Of course, another element to show adored by all is The Stig. Originally dressed all in black, Black Stig was eventually killed off after his identity was revealed in an autobiography. Enter The Stig. Always dressed in white racing overalls and wearing his white helmet with black visor, The Stig is Top Gear’s pet racer. He is introduced before every power lap attempt in the latest supercar by the infamous line: “Some say…” followed by a fact about the enigmatic racer like, “…that his genitals are on upside down, and that if he could be bothered, he could crack the Da Vinci Code in 43 seconds… all we know is, he’s called the Stig.”
The Stig never speaks, and as he charges around the track, he listens to an eclectic mix of music, ranging from power ballads to The Archers on Radio 4.
The Stig has a family, from his American cousin Big Stig at the Palm Beach International Speedway to his Italian cousin Bunga-Bunga Stig who once had to set a lap time in the Ferrari 458. He also has a vegetarian cousin called Janet Stig Porter who wears green overalls and sandals. Other international family includes Attack Stig from China and Herr Stig aka Stiggy Ray Cyrus from Germany, an identical cousin except his mullet haircut. Reaching as far spread as Vietnam you’ll find Stig’s Vietnamese/Communist cousin dressed in red overalls, and from Botswana, Stig’s African cousin, dressed in only Puma racing boots, a loincloth and the iconic white helmet.
Some of the best Top Gear moments have taken place on one of their ‘specials’, the whole episode dedicated to one feature. One of the first and often repeated episodes is the USA Special. It was here Jezza, May and Hammond had to haggle with dangerous car dealers, looking to purchase a car for $1500 or less. In a beat up Chevy truck, a ridiculous Cadillac and an even worse IROC, the gang decided to paint quotes onto their vehicles in a Southern State, lines like “Man Love Rules Okay” and “NASCAR Sucks” nearly getting them killed at a petrol station.
My personal favourite is the Vietnam Special. Whilst they had to negotiate the worst roads in the world throughout massive rainstorms on motorbikes – in Jeremy’s case a Vespa scooter – it revealed the beauty and culture of a country whilst offering belly laugh entertainment.
The Top Gear races also offer a unique view of other cultures as they traverse nations in their desperate attempts to beat each other, although it’s always Jezza in a car vs. May and Hammond in various forms of public transport.
We’ve seen a Bugatti Veyron race a Cessna plane, an old XK120 Jag, a vintage Vincent motorbike and a steam train race from London to Scotland, and one the funniest and closest finishes, Jeremy in a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti taking on Hammond and May in a passenger jet to Switzerland.
The Star In A Reasonably Priced Car uses the concept of a celebrity interview combined with them having to set a lap time in a very boring and standard car like the Chevrolet Lacetti and the Kia Cee’d. Past celebs to top the board are Dame Ellen MacArthur, Simon Cowell, Matt LeBlanc, Jay Kay and Jimmy Carr.
If you’re a Top Gear fan and petrol head like me (yes, I have owned an Alfa!) I don’t really need to tell you why you love the show. For people who don’t know, Top Gear is a truly British programme, proud of Blighty and quick to ridicule everyone else – this is clearly done in jest though. Jezza is a badly dressed man with very bad hair, obsessed with power and possessing a hatred of cyclists, buses… well, all other forms of transport. Hammond is an excitable kid who thinks he’s an American and rides motorbikes. Captain Slow also likes bikes, adores everything British, has spaniel’s ears for hair and likes nothing better than boring the team with long-winded technical explanations. Mix these three with absurd challenges involving the destruction of caravans, playing darts with actual cars and trying to convert a Reliant Robin into a NASA space shuttle using rockets, and you have the perfect viewing for a Sunday evening.
Finally, I’ll touch upon the upcoming season 20 (which will air on the BBC next June the 30th).
Apparently there will be a new Reasonably Priced Car that sees the end of the Kia Cee’d. Jeremy was spotted in New Zealand by the Ngati Kuri tribe – reports said Jezza was racing a red Toyota Corolla hatchback against May in yacht.
Jezza Twitter followers were given a snap of filming production in Scotland where he drives a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. In one of their crazy concept builds, it looks like we’ll be treated to a transit van – hovercraft hybrid.
In Gibraltar, it looks like some serious supercar mayhem is in order – Season’s special (which apparently started up in Spain) will feature an Audi R8 V10 Plus Spider, a Ferrari 458 Spider and a McLaren MP4-12C.
Also, Richard Hammond will try to find the best Taxi in the world, while May will be testing a Bac Mono. Finally, Clarkson will compare the Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series with its electric brother, the SLS AMG Electric Drive; further tests are expected as for example the Jaguar F-Type V8 S the Range Rover Sport and the Renault Clio RS.
Whatever happens, Jeremy won’t have upgraded his wardrobe.
And on this bombshell, it’s time to end, good night and we see them next week!