TopGear is a long running and much loved television show following charismatic hosts who discuss and drive a variety of cars. TopGear first aired in April of 1977 and ran for many years before its cancellation in 2001. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a producer pitched a new format to BBC. The new format of the show launched in 2002 and is still running today. The show is so popular that it has broken several BBC viewership records and has produced sister shows in Russia, Korea, Australia, and the United States.
Top Gear has been called an entertainment program as much as an information program. It is well known for its creative segments and commentary. Stars with reasonably priced cars challenge celebrity figures to drive a reasonably priced car around the Top Gear Track. Cars featured in this segment include the Suzukia Liana, the Kia Cee’d, and the Vauxhall Astra. These challenges have accumulated a large pool of celebrity competitors, including Patrick Stewart, Gordon Ramsey, and Slash.
TopGear has been known to go to extreme lengths to bring an entertaining and informative product to BBC, its home channel. Did you know that a Toyota Hilux will still drive after you light it on fire, drop a caravan on it, run it into a tree, hit it with a wrecking ball, and drag it into the ocean behind a boat? Top Gear answers this question and many others questions you didn’t know you had.
In addition, the show often puts both driver and machine to the test in segments challenging, unique, or arduous. These segments might involve the hosts playing chauffeur to couples going to their wedding, or they might involve driving across an entire continent in a car bought second hand for less than 1,500 pounds. The formula of the show is quite hard to nail down — one show might involve testing a new hydrogen powered vehicle while the other will involve the hosts choosing two cars each and chopping them together to form a new franken-car. This formula, or lack thereof, has proven successful as the show airs in 170 countries and receives 350 million views weekly.
Top Gear’s charming hosts are an undeniable attribute of the show’s unforgettable appeal and popularity. The three are filled with information, witty banter, and stories that tie together the show and separate it from other programs which may come across as dry or boring. Hardly is there ever a dry moment on Top Gear, thanks in part to the relationship of the three hosts. Jeremy Clarkson hosted the original series and was credited with helping the show achieve it speak popularity in the 90’s. He departed briefly and was replaced by James May. Clarkson and May ended up hosting the “new” Top Gear in addition to Richard Hammond. The presenters each have an unmistakable charisma about them, but the interactions between them cement the charm and add something great to the show. Another important character on the show is the Stig, a masked racer who drives cars on their Lotus-designed test track. The Stig has actually been played by multiple people, whose identities are never revealed before they eventually retire the position for a new driver. The Stig, in his (sometimes her) silent strength, has become an icon of the show, adorning T-shirts and posters alike.
For the auto enthusiast, Top Gear offers what no other show dares to. The mix of education, humor, and downright wild segments offer a look into the world of automobiles that you won’t get anywhere else. The charming talk-show style hosting and frequent antics ensure that even the casual viewer will love Top Gear.
Find out more about the U.S. version of the show on the History Channel.