As of Sunday night, my favourite car show of all time is officially dead to me.
I managed to stream this show – allegedly – late Sunday night and it was not what I expected. It was reserved and contrived. There was no new supercar test, no live audience, no celebrity driving a Kia around the track trying to beat the other celebrities lap times, there wasn’t even a news segment. At the end of the show, there were only two presenters, who clearly did not want to be there. They simply said “Thanks for watching and goodbye.” Very anticlimactic and heartbreakingly sad at the same time.
I started watching this little known BBC show back in the early 2000’s after I stumbled on to a very funny Internet video (found HERE). A test driver was doing donuts and beating the living hell out of a Ferrari 456 GTA in Le Mans Blue. A smarmy man with a British accent appeared and told a quick story about a 14-year-old kid who got a job at a wood yard so he could drive trucks, and now all he did all day was test Ferraris… to destruction. He finished by explaining that the engine of this rolling piece of Italian artwork blew up in a huge puff of smoke. I had to know more. The only clue I had was a BBC logo on the video. There was no BBC on TV here in America and only a few people (me) had one of those new fangled, speedy cable modems that allowed you to download huge 100MB files in less than a week. You see kids, in the days before Google, Siri and FiOS, the Internet kind of sucked. It was difficult to navigate, unless you had AOL, and it was painfully slow. Those little obstacles never deterred me from finding out more about this show that blows up Ferraris. So I used my trusty Alta Vista browser and went to http://www.askjeeves.com. “Jeeves, what is the name of the BBC show about cars?” The answer, of course, was Top Gear.
Jeremy Clarkson was a writer on the first edition of Top Gear in the late 1990’s. He was irreverent, snobbish, condescending and brilliant – my kind of people. Back in the old days, there was no YouTube, only was this thing called Newsgroups. Very shady. You could find anything there. After – allegedly – consulting with some expert friends who still live in their mom’s basement, I – allegedly – learned how to navigate to some of the deepest and darkest parts of the Internet. I – allegedly – found a Newsgroup that was loaded with episodes of Top Gear. It was glorious. I spent years – allegedly – downloading episodes of this very well written show and savoured every minute of it. With the addition of James May (also known as Captain Slow and a Radio Disc Jockey named Richard “Hamster” Hammond) and a mystery test-driver named The Stig, the show was complete. These three middle-aged men and their silent test driver were magic together for many years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Top Gear was the largest show… in the world. It aired in 214 countries and averaged 350 million viewers. It’s estimated that the show made nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in ad revenue for the BBC. So you might ask, who would kill this cash cow?
Technically, it’s not quite dead yet. The show will continue with a new bank of hosts, but no self-respecting, petrol-head will ever watch it because the three idiots won’t be there. Jeremy was “dismissed” from the show several months ago after an altercation at a hotel over hot food. Jeremy – allegedly – punched his producer in the face when cold sandwiches were served instead of the steak he was promised. There are several red flags, though. The producer is a lifelong friend of Jeremy and it was widely reported that Jeremy was very unhappy with the way the upper management of BBC were treating Top Gear. Some say the entire fracas was manufactured so the boys could go off and do their own thing. Others say that Jeremy, Richard and James are going to turn up on a new show soon and that it will become the most watched television show… in the world.
Erica Habedank | CW44 Tampa Bay