It is not often you can say that a British-made television programme becomes a worldwide success. Sure, things like Monty Python had a cult following (Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is one of the show's biggest fans and is able to quote sketches word for word) but Americans have never really understood British humour. They liked The Office enough to remake it, but their version is totally different from Ricky Gervais' original and has been detrimentally Americanised.
The Current Top Gear Team
But one show which doesn't need too much translation is the internationally acclaimed Top Gear
. The simple formula of having three middle aged men in a room talking about cars, and then going out of the studio to perform stupid pranks in those same cars has been an instant hit. So much so that an estimated 500 million people watch Top Gear annually from locations as far fetched as Saudi Arabia and New Zealand
. The Australians recently aired their first series of Aussie Top Gear while Russian and American versions are close to fruition. Top Gear has a best-selling magazine too and to cap the show's success all off the presenters are now doing their first world tour. The Top Gear tour starts at Earls Court, London
, and will then move on to a four day show in Hong Kong. Eight other locations are on the route including Amsterdam and Sydney and the Top Gear show is to have the same quality of stunts and tricks which have made the television series so popular.
And what's not to love about Top Gear? Episodes have included finding out whether it is possible to drive a car to the North Pole and across the English Channel (It is possible in both cases). Almost every week there is some slapstick stunt where a car is propelled over a building or across a river.
One of the staple entertainments on Top Gear is letting celebrities drive a chosen car around a race track, all trying to better each other's times. This sort of fun-filled competition makes for good viewing no matter where in the world you are watching it.
The Top Gear Polar Challenge
So what are the drawbacks of Top Gear? Well, for a start, Jeremy Clarksonis often controversial. He has that sort of 'I'm cool because I don't care about the environment or anyone else' kind of air which is well-honed from years at public school. Protestors regularly follow him around complaining about Clarkson's tom-foolery, such as when he drove a high-powered car into a very old tree (the car won). That said he is funny, and his Times column is usually worth reading. Highlights have included the piece about wearing a t-shirt bearing the world's most offensive four letter word during a rehearsal. So far no harm done until the Japanese racing driver Kazunori Yamauchi dropped in. Being Japanese he didn't understand what the word meant, but of course posed for pictures with Clarkson and the offensive t-shirt! Where Top Gear becomes really questionable is in incidents such as the near fatal Richard Hammond car crash.
When you make a living pissing about in cars there is always an element of danger. But to drive at over 250 mph in a jet-powered dragster is just reckless and he nearly lost his life. All part of the thrill of the show, but maybe not the best example to be setting for young drivers around the world. Speaking of which, Rhino has good deals for young drivers who are looking for the first rental car, visit our homepage!