Top Gear is quite possibly one of the most iconic motoring shows. It is watched all over the world, and has in fact spawned a number of copycat series in other countries. The combination of stunning new super cars, exotic locations, high profile guests, inventive and often ridiculous challenges, not to mention the irreverent and witty banter between the hosts, have made the programme into one of the BBC’s most popular shows.
This year sees the show enter it’s 21st series and with the opening episode gaining more than 5 million viewers, it is clear that there is no sign of its popularity waning and it looks set to remain firmly ensconced in its Sunday evening slot on BBC2.
This popularity comes despite the fact that Jeremy Clarkson splits opinions like marmite, and that there was recently a huge outrage over a photo he posted on the social media network Twitter. However, the challenge currently facing the Top Gear team is how to come up with new, exciting and original stunts, to keep the interest of the viewers and to stay on top of the ratings.
The first episode, unusually, did not feature any new cars, but instead had the hosts performing several challenges in second hand hot-hatch backs from the 80s, which many of you might think would be better suited to a scrap yard! The challenges ranged from a fairly uneventful race against a modern hot-hatch, to the delightfully sublime police chase challenge that saw the cars being, amongst other things, blown up by tanks. After a supermarket sweep style race though a local supermarket and a typically poor attempt to cover the old cars in some velvet like material, it was probably time the 80’s relics were headed to the scrap yard. Some classic banter ensued when James May covered his car in Christmas wrapping paper and Jeremy sealed the passenger doors shut and also managed to seal his car keys under the wrapping on top of the roof of the car.
Hugh Bonneville was the special guest which is a shrewd move by the BBC given that both Top Gear’s and Downton Abbey are popular Sunday evening shows, albeit on competing channels. Hugh Bonneville’s presence brought a touch of class to the proceedings, and his lap in the reasonably priced car was a very good effort.
In true Top Gear fashion, there have been very few details released as to what can be expected in the forthcoming episodes. In the final episode of the last series, the team finished very strongly with a nod to British engineering by arranging a convoy of cars, lorries, tractors and JCBs to parade through London to Buckingham Palace. It was a truly magnificent feat of organisation and logistical planning and shows how far the show has come over the last 21 series. With a massive production budget and a license to seemingly do anything, anywhere, fans will no doubt be eagerly awaiting the upcoming episodes of Top Gear and wondering what delights will be in store.