Home » ‘Top Gear’ Is Officially Off The Air Indefinitely

‘Top Gear’ Is Officially Off The Air Indefinitely

Top Gear Suspended Ts
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We had a feeling this was coming, right? Following presenter Andrew Flintoff’s 2022 crash that resulted in life-altering injuries, the BBC has brushed the “Top Gear” show into the archives of history for now. In a statement, the broadcaster wrote: “Given the exceptional circumstances, the BBC has decided to rest the UK show for the foreseeable future… We know resting the show will be disappointing news for fans, but it is the right thing to do.” Well, that’s quite the euphemism. In this case, “resting the show” means axing the program, possibly picking it up another time. As much as this news sucks, it’s probably what needed to happen.

This isn’t the first time Top Gear’s been cancelled. That happened in 2001, when a more consumer-focused car show than the one we know today was axed by the BBC following a decline in viewership. The relaunch was swift, with former presenter Jeremy Clarkson and producer Andy Wilman relaunching the show in 2002. While there was some early-installment weirdness to reborn-Top Gear, the show eventually found its footing and went on to be the biggest automotive TV show…in the world.

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Of course, good things come to the end, and they can feel like a punch to the face when they do. In the case of Clarkson-era “Top Gear,” things really did end with a punch, when Clarkson allegedly threw hands at producer Oisin Tymon. The result? Clarkson’s contract wasn’t renewed, Richard Hammond and James May left, and “The Grand Tour” was born.

Of course, this left the BBC with a void of presenters, and the broadcaster decided to pull a GM by throwing every possible talent at the wall and seeing what stuck. Chris Evans certainly didn’t, but Chris Harris, Matt LeBlanc, and Rory Reid did. So did Sabine Schmitz, a beacon of automotive enthusiasm and driving expertise brighter than the sun. Rest In Peace, Sabine.

Top Gear Promo Shot 1

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By 2019, it was time for another dramatic presenter shuffle, with LeBlanc and Reid heading out and two new presenters coming in: Cricketer Andrew Flintoff and comedian Paddy McGuinness. While the first season with this lineup was a bit wooden, the chemistry developed, and the last seasons of “Top Gear” were some of the best ever. In a way, the reborn show had always been a bit “Jackass” but with cars, and the antics of Flintoff, McGuinness, and Harris played to this strength. Viewership figures were returning from the gutters, with the 30th season performing just as well domestically as the final season with Clarkson, Hammond, and May, as per the U.K.’s BARB viewing data. Still, it’s not hard to find internet commenters bemoaning the final presenter lineup.

Does “Top Gear” still deserve to exist? I reckon it does. There’s always a market for high-grade, exceptionally-produced car porn, and “Top Gear” redefined the automotive program into something experiential rather than consumer-focused. It tapped into a pillar of the industry that some professionals neglect: Escapism. You may never try to cross the English Channel in a homemade amphibious car, drive a Peel P50 through an office, or hoon the latest McLaren on track, but it’s fun to see cars move.

If anything, a break could be good for the show. Calling it quits for now can throw the pale light of day on a legacy that’s impossible to live up to, give leeway towards presenters for a possible rebirth, and most importantly, show respect to Flintoff. Sure, it isn’t the first time a presenter has been seriously injured during filming, but that doesn’t make it better. It would be rude to just pick up the show without a presenter that helped make it awesome, especially when that presenter’s experienced a great deal of hurt. Perhaps it’s time for “Top Gear” to exit the airwaves, but not forever. In a few years, everyone will miss it like the desert misses rain.

(Photo credits: BBC)

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Dodsworth
Dodsworth
7 months ago

I remember watching Top Gear when one of the boys said, “Stig took the car around the test track. You can watch that lap online.” Never watched again.

Tangent
Tangent
7 months ago

If the show wasn’t performing well I get dropping it but cancelling it because of an accident? Imagine if they applied that to everything else? Racing certainly wouldn’t be a thing anymore…

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
7 months ago
Reply to  Tangent

I think it was mostly out of deference to Flintoff. He wasn’t very happy with the accident and I doubt continuing would have helped matters.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
7 months ago

Personally, I found the antics to become tiresome and increasingly unrealistic. Yes, I’m aware that a lot of the more bizarre segments were staged. However, I felt like they just had to keep outdoing themselves to keep people interested. I think it’s time to give it a rest for a while. Hopefully they will eventually bring it back to inspire a new generation of automotive enthusiasts.

Until then, I have faith that Motorweek will continue to thrive for decades even after they turn John Davis into a cyborg. Hopefully, they remember to give him an oil pressure gauge.

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
7 months ago

Came here for comments mentioning Throttle House, Jason Cammisa, Savage Geese et al. Was not disappointed.

Spanner
Spanner
7 months ago

It wasn’t until the Autopian defined what it means to be ‘pro car’ that I realised why the Clarkson / Hammond / May era of Top Gear never quite sat right with me. The idea of automotive pluralism, of accepting other people’s tastes even if you don’t agree with them, is a long way from what they were putting on the show.

Clarkson’s Top Gear decreed that there were some cars that people simply shouldn’t be allowed to like. If people did dare to like them, they were wrong. And worst of all, to make this point, Clarkson and co would get hold of these cars and destroy them (cf Reliant Robins, Morris Marinas).

Torch has set out better than I ever could the context of how the Robin came to be, and it why it is interesting and can be valued (https://www.theautopian.com/lets-figure-out-the-best-worst-car-from-those-stupid-lists-of-worst-cars/). Steph from https://www.youtube.com/@idriveaclassic is just an ordinary woman who loves Marinas and is learning how to restore one. The Autopian, which I love, would welcome her. But Clarkson, Hammond and May have deliberately destroyed multiple examples of the car that she loves because they don’t think she should be allowed to.

It’s the classic playground bully. People who are poorer than them drove Robins. People who liked different things drove Marinas. The interesting question is: why did they feel so threatened? Your average Autopian doesn’t care if someone likes a different sort of car than the one they like. In fact, they’ll probably be interested in what they have in common with that person.

Apologies, this turned into a therapy session. My son’s having some trouble at school with bigger boys and we’re working through how to deal with this. So bullying is an issue close to my heart at the moment!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
7 months ago
Reply to  Spanner

“Apologies, this turned into a therapy session. My son’s having some trouble at school with bigger boys and we’re working through how to deal with this. So bullying is an issue close to my heart at the moment!”

I’m sorry to hear that.

FWIW my kid goes to a school of choice program that has leaned all in on positive discipline, social emotional learning and whole child education. This includes parent education; elementary student parents are required to participate in bimonthly evening seminars. All parents are required to join the PTA and spend an hour or two every week in the classroom or helping the school in an offline role. Some love it and even join as permanent staff. Its a lot of work and parents who legitimately don’t have the time to spend often make arrangements with patents that do. At first I was skeptical of this wild eyed, smelly hippie drivel until I saw how well it can work myself.

The upside is it makes a huge difference in the kids. They get a lot more family time. The parents get to see with their own eyes what is going on in school. The kids are taught to solve their own problems, especially playground disputes by talking it out. They are given tools with which to deal with their anger and frustrations. Empathy for others is also emphasized.

No it’s not perfect, yes bullying does happen. Those bullies usually earn themselves a conversation with a teacher or the principal, maybe even a parent who witnessed. The bullies don’t get yelled at, they aren’t made to feel stupid, that only makes the problem worse. Its often what they are already getting at home, hence the parent education.

Instead they are calmly and respectfully invited to talk about why they did what they did,what lead up to their actions to try to get to the root of the problem at hand. The bully is also asked to imagine how their behavior makes the bullied feel to instill some empathy. Finally the bully is invited to apologize to the bullied and the bullied graciously accepts.

Kumbaya.

Most of the time it works. Compared to my own long ago school experiences in the same general geographical area these kids are FAR more tolerant, more accepting and suffer much less from testosterone poisoning than the kids I went to school with. There is teasing but it tends to be good natured. If it isn’t it gets a calm and respectful conversation with an adult.

We also share a campus with a “normal” public school so it offers a convenient control group. From what I’ve seen the other school’s kids are noticeably quicker to anger and more foul mouthed. I’m not around them enough to get a complete picture of the other school’s students vs ours but the scuttlebutt among the parents is the contrast is pronounced.

TL:DR positive discipline and social emotional learning are good tools to handle bullying. Its worth looking into:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/positive-discipline-basics-1095043

https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/

Last edited 7 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Spanner
Spanner
7 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I really appreciate, and am really touched, that you took the time to write this! Some really interesting stuff here and great advice.

Dest
Dest
7 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I don’t have any direct kids, but as an uncle this is fascinating info. Thanks to you and Spanner for having one of most wholesome interactions I’ve seen on the internet.

Mondestine
Mondestine
7 days ago
Reply to  Spanner

Robert Dunn of aging wheels is another Reliant Robin owner who is not only a massive fan of the car, but who has also alluded, at least a little, to his frustration with the way Top Gear covered the Robin.
In any event, if you haven’t heard of him before, Aging Wheels is fantastic YouTube channel, one I highly recommend.
https://m.youtube.com/@agingwheels

P.S. I know my comment is about seven months behind this post, but I just saw it now. So that’s that.

Last edited 7 days ago by Mondestine
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