Last Sunday, something wonderful happened to the television schedules. Sunday night no longer became a bitter countdown to Monday morning, it became a source for entertainment, a source for laughter and, just hopefully, a source for the McLaren P1*.
Top Gear has landed again, and although we all know in our hearts that the series will probably only last about 4 episodes (when did that become acceptable, by the way?), we’re happy that our lives have once again been slightly enriched by the terrible trio.
After the first episode aired, those of us who love a car-geek fest, but also enjoy a little clumsy comedy, rejoiced on Monday. We had a laugh, that bit where James did this and Jeremy did that was hilarious.
But, there’s always one. The one who has to say “it was hardly about the cars” or “they totally chose the wrong hot-hatch there”.
If it’s not pure enough for you, then don’t watch Top Gear.
Top Gear is essentially family entertainment. It is on at bona-fide prime-time, 8pm on a Sunday night, the daddy of viewing time. Would they plonk a technical, car-nut only show on at such a time? Would 54 minutes of the Stig (who wouldn’t be the Stig but instead a moody racing driver with an uncloaked identity) roaring around in the Alfa Romeo 4C and discussing torque in-depth really pull in as many viewers?
Top Gear is entertainment with a sprinkling of car lust and just the occasional sprig of technical detailing. It’s not for pulling apart the minute the credits roll in because no one learned advanced automotive engineering in little under an hour.
If you want pure petrol, read Autocar or Autosport and take Top Gear for what it is, entertainment designed for all. There’s certainly many an avid viewer who doesn’t understand their M3s from their MGs, but they still enjoy the show.
As Stuart Heritage so accurately states:
“It hasn’t been a show about cars for years, but last night’s return (2nd February) confirmed that Top Gear no longer has any grounding in reality whatsoever”.
“The episode was a cartoon… There were fake moustaches. There were electromagnets. A velvet- covered VW Golf was blown up by a stick of dynamite…”
Stuart goes on to say that there was outrage in 2007, when that caravan fire scene was… dare I say it… staged. You don’t say? Richard Hammond’s uncomfortable ‘acting’ alone makes any claims of unscripted escapades redundant.
But that’s what makes it fun and that’s what gives it that golden slot, not just a meek show airing at unsociable hours for motoring purists – there’s outlets for that, go and enjoy them.
Say what you will about May, Hammond and Clarkson, but Top Gear is entertainment with a few cars thrown in. And we’ve all known this for years. So as far as the 21st series goes, either enjoy the glimpses of petrol purity and laugh at the escapades, or resign the show to a pointless farce when you could be spending that time tinkering with a Haynes manual.