Monday, March 16, 2015

Editorial: BBC's Top Gear Might Be No More

Image courtesy of http://emblemsbf.com/order-1181.html
If you have not heard the news already, BBC's Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson, got into a "fracas" with one of the show's producers. Clarkson had allegedly punched said producer after food was not available after a long day of filming. As a result, Clarkson had been suspended from the show, and the three remaining episodes of the season will not be aired. A petition sprang up over his suspension to reinstate the beleaguered host with the hashtag, #BringBackClarkson. Anyone who is familiar with the show knows that Clarkson was already in quite a bit of hot water with the BBC's top brass, with most of his problems stemming from allegations of racism. Unfortunately, it seems that Clarkson himself has had enough of the BBC and has insinuated that he may not continue to work on the show. As a result, the very future of Top Gear itself is in jeopardy.

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter
This is truly a sad day in the world of televised automotive shows. While Top Gear has been on the air for decades, the version of Top Gear most people are familiar with is the version helmed by Clarkson along with co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond. The trio's clashing personalities, witty banter, and overall silliness is what made the show popular with viewers. But the show was not just automotive shenanigans. Car reviews were generally informative and fun to watch. Seeing the Stig power some of the most expensive sports cars, super cars, and hyper cars around Top Gear's very own test track was an absolute blast.

Top Gear had become such a phenomenon that it spawned various officially licensed versions all around the world. Different countries had their very own versions of Top Gear with their own locally selected hosts (American readers of our blog may be familiar with the USA version of Top Gear hosted by Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrera, and Rutledge Wood). Of course, Top Gear's influence in the world of cars was not just limited to television. Microsoft's Forza Motorsport franchise brought Jeremy Clarkson on to narrate various portions of the fourth version of the game for Xbox 360 and brought on all three hosts for the fifth version of the game for Xbox One.

I discovered Top Gear pretty late into its run. After watching a few clips of it on You Tube about five years ago, I became hooked. When I decided to get cable TV again and saw that BBC America was one of the channels in one of the packages, I sprung for it just so I could watch Top Gear. I almost never missed an airing of the show, whether it was on live, or recorded in my DVR. Some of the most memorable episodes had to be the Christmas specials, where the guys go to various countries and complete a set of tasks while driving pre-owned cars of their choice. For the most part, the boys end up looking like buffoons for most of the episode, but it is kind of where the charm of the show stems from. While many people complained that Top Gear hardly ever reviewed any regular cars that most people could afford, I actually enjoyed the fact that the hosts had a penchant for high horsepower (with the exception of James May, who I believe owns a Fiat Panda).

Top Gear, should it end its run, is a show that will be missed by many people around the world. The BBC's knows that cancelling the show will definitely hurt them financially as Top Gear is absolutely an advertising cash cow. However, without Clarkson's sharp tongue around to spar with Hammond and May, the show would never be the same. Luckily, Jeremy, Richard, and James are all very sought after hosts, so odds are you have not seen the last of them on TV. In the mean time, I suppose I could fill the void by binge watching old Top Gear episodes on Hulu. Then there is always Top Gear USA. But as much fun as watching Tanner, Adam, and Rutledge goofing around is, it just will not be the same.