is a long-running British magazine show
about automobiles and motoring. This page chiefly concerns the presenters and other characters featured on the show since its 2002 restart. For the hosts of the US version of the show, see Top Gear US
The leader of the central trio: the oldest, tallest, and most obstreperous
. He tends to be very vocal in his dislikes and self-confident to the point of arrogance. Also physically the most fragile. Given his choice of cars (and most everything else, really) he prefers sheer raw power (preferably with the noise to go with), then control, and then speed. He is also the most likely to get into hot water for his on-air remarks, the number of which is too large to get into here. When all is said and done, however, the man is genuinely passionate in his admiration of and respect for good engineering, and not just automotive engineering, he's known for being an all-round technophile, possibly because he's not that skilled at designing something from scratch, and therefore recognizes how hard it really is to do.
Clarkson, who had become a celebrity in Britain for co-presenting the original format of Top Gear
from 1988 to 1999, was the one responsible for successfully pitching the 2002 revival of the show to the BBC. He also writes a weekly column for The Sun
, does the occasional one-off documentary, and is a semi-regular on several panel shows such as QI
and Have I Got News for You
- A-Team Firing: Perfectly summed up by May:
May: The great thing about Jeremy's shooting is that you are perfectly safe just as long as you stand right in front of the target.
- The Big Guy: His height, an impressive 196cm (6'5" if you're American) is the frequent butt of jokes, and he often winds up getting stuck with the small cars for comedic purposes.
- Brief Accent Imitation: generally of Americans or of Hammond.
- The Captain: The unofficial leader of the three. The visiting Germans from D-Motor refer to him as "Top Gear Boss."
- Catch Phrase:
- "How hard can it be?",
- "...and on that bombshell...",
- "...in the world."
- "...but that's exactly what they're expecting us to do."
- "Has anybody got a hammer?"
- Referring to people from Norway as "Nors".
- Caustic Critic: Clarkson pulls no punches when it comes to cars (or anything) he reviews, and will call vehicles out on things he finds wrong. He's angered quite a few car companies this way.
- Crazy Awesome: Invoked by (and about) Clarkson frequently, who does things simply because he can.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's particularly good at delivering patently ridiculous lines in a serious, authoritative tone. He's almost always is the one to recite the ridiculous the Stig facts.
- Dramatic Pause: Practically tied with William Shatner as the living personification of this trope.
- In-Series Nickname: "Jezza" and "The Orangutan."
- Epic Fail: While all the presenters have their shares of failures, in any challenge it is all but guaranteed that what ever Jeremy comes up with either crash, break down, not start, or get set on fire. Or possibly set itself on fire.
- Hidden Depths: Clarkson is a bird watcher which is sometimes mentioned in the series. During foreign road trips he can sometimes be seen watching birds. During the Botswana special, the team stops to observe the wildlife and he identifies a bird and marks it down in a field guide. He also mentions his interest in bird watching in this article about cars and the environment.
Clarkson: I want to talk about magpies...
Hammond: This is a car show, Jeremy!
- Incoming Ham: Often Jeremy will be heard long before he's seen.
- Insane Troll Logic: often comes up with theories and conclusions that make absolutely no sense. E.g. Hammond has a passion for the Porsche 911 so he wants to sleep with David Attenborough. And that's sensible for Jeremy.
- Insufferable Genius: He knows a lot about cars, and won't hesitate to tell you so.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He sent Hammond's wife humorous texts every day for the five weeks that Hammond was hospitalized after his crash in order to keep her spirits up.
- Large Ham: Loud voice, dramatic gestures, overemphasis on certain words, and larger-than-life analogies. "Subtle" is definitely not a word used to describe Clarkson.
- Lethal Chef:
- His V8 Smoothie gave even James May pause. Ingredients included a few pounds of raw beef, bovril, and a brick.
James: I've got the name for it: the Bloody Awful.
- There was also the time he tried to see if an engine could cook a dish, and presented it to Gordon Ramsey
- Mad Scientist:
- Some of his inventions include the V8 Blender, the V8 Rocking Chair, and the "Hammerhead Eagle-i Thrust".
- He once treated a remote controlled high powered ex-military minesweeper as if it was a dog.
- No Indoor Voice: you can hear him a mile off. Shouting.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: will play up his TV persona and act incredibly stupid for a laugh (he will often say absolutely outrageous things for the sake of entertainment, and for those who aren't in on the joke he will say things just to see how far people will believe what he's saying). He is far more intelligent than he acts, and will own up to playing the idiot when questioned seriously.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Very hesitantly admitted that one Porsche could do with a bit less power.
- Percussive Maintenance: Thinks a hammer is the only tool you will ever need.
- Unless you're gardening, in which case the tool is a shotgun.
- Refuge in Audacity: Constantly makes ridiculous and insulting pronouncements and revels in too-soon humor. This has gotten him and the show into trouble on numerous occasions.
- Smug Snake: Clarkson believes his plans will work purely on the principle that he says they will work.
- Talks Like a Simile: Every other sentence of a review from Clarkson will have him compare an aspect of a car to something. Often, the connections and analogies run from "barely there" to "absolutely ridiculous."
- Tim Taylor Technology: Devoted to the principle that power is good and more power is even better.
- Surprisingly, averted when he reviewed the Ford Fiesta.
: The baddies have made the classic
baddie error, he's got too
much power! I've got 120 horsepower in this. You don't want any more than that on marble
Those teeth are a fairly bright white, actually.
The second in command: the youngest, shortest, and second-most obstreperous — and generally agreed to be the easiest on the eyes. note
Described by the others as the toughest physically but the most fragile emotionally. Tends to be chatty and moody. Given his choice, he generally wants a fast, powerful car, especially those made by Pagani & Porsche but the love of his life is a 1963 Opel Kadett with under 50 hp. Known affectionately as "Hamster" for his size, chattiness and willingness to engage in risky stunts. Hammond is so willing to engage in risky stunts that in September 2006, he suffered a near-fatal brain injury after crashing at 288.3mph/464.0km/h during a test of a jet-powered car. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.
He's also the host of the series Blast Lab
, Total Wipeout
and, formerly, Brainiac: Science Abuse
. He also has his own BBC America series, Richard Hammond's Crash Course
- Ascended Fanboy: Was a fan of Clarkson and the original Top Gear before becoming a presenter in the revival.
- Berserk Button: "I have NOT had my teeth whitened!"
- Book Dumb: Not keen on deeply educational things, but far from outright stupid.
- Brief Accent Imitation: The most likely to do this, particularly during the news segments.
- Cargo Ship / Companion Cube: Invoked with "Oliver," a 1963 Opel Kadett A.
- Catch Phrase and Lampshade Hanging: In the more recent series; when Clarkson asks "How hard can it be?", expect Hammond to reply "Don't say that!" or similar.
- Cluster F-Bomb: In particular, his bike section of the "Public Transport vs. a Car vs. a Boat vs. a Bike across London" challenge
- Does Not Like Spam: He's a picky eater but hates fish of all descriptions especially.
- Mr. Fanservice: The most conventionally good-looking of the three. Was also the first presenter to be Heat magazine's "Weird Crush" of the year.
- In-Series Nickname:
- "Hamster." Bestowed by Clarkson, but the fans have kept it alive. His independent production company is also called Hamster's Wheel.
- Clarkson has also called him "Teeth" a few times.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: For the USA. He apparently owns a Stetson, a classic Ford Mustang and a Harley Davidson.
Richard: "I love muscle cars. I love the fact that they're about standing quarter-miles, they're about racing away from the lights when the police aren't looking. They're about cowboy boots, work boots, denim jeans, dime stores, bars. I love that."
- Hollywood Midlife Crisis: Admits to having gone through one for several years as his hair and clothes became flashier with each passing series of Top Gear. He eventually went back to having shorter, more manageable hair and more conservative clothing, but still dresses in louder colors than he did before the crisis began.
- Hot-Blooded: The presenter most likely to throw themselves fully into the challenge and get emotional over winning or losing.
- Iron Buttmonkey: As close to one as a living person can be, thanks to his accident.
- Keet: The smallest and most energetic of the show's hosts.
- The Lancer: To Clarkson
- Made of Iron: He made a full recovery from his 2006 accident, and has nary a scar.
- Man Child: He keeps the cardboard boxes of large appliances and plays pretend with them.
- The Napoleon: The shortest presenter, as well as the most prone to losing their temper.
- Never Live It Down: Invoked about his declaration of "I AM A DRIVING GOD!!!"
- One-Note Cook: Baked beans, as demonstrated during the search for the source of the Nile.
- Picky Eater: Constantly taunted by his co-presenters for not being as open-minded about food as them, particularly during the overseas specials. They will often order something completely out there in order to gross him out.
- The food doesn't even have to be particularly exotic either. He won't eat classically British dishes like Fish and Chips because he dislikes seafood and is completely put off by the sight of traditional Spaghetti Bolognese (which he claims is his favorite dish) because the sauce includes sausagenote
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: One of his tooth-whitening denials echoed off of nearby mountains.
- Running Gag: Whenever he's driving very fast in a straight line on a runway the other two are sure to comment on how nervous this makes them, since he was attempting to do exactly that when he wrecked the jet-powered car.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Beautifully demonstrated during the competitions against D-Motor and Australia. Also often pulled on his fellow presenters during challenges.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The normally fearless and daring Hammond is terrified of insects.
The quiet one (relatively speaking) somewhere between Clarkson and Hammond in age and height: a picture-perfect Straight Man with an understated sense of humor and a gift for deadpan delivery. Likes physics, classical music, alcohol, light aircraft and interesting facts. Far more careful than the other two, and obsessive (to the point of possibly suffering from OCD) about details, down to the proper arrangement of his tools. He is implicitly acknowledged to be the most technically savvy of the three. As he prefers control and good handling over power and speed — and absolutely refuses to run on camera note
— the other two have dubbed him "Captain Slow".
May was also a co-presenter of the original Top Gear
format, although his tenure on that programme was only for a brief time in 1999, replacing Clarkson just before the show got canceled. Aside from hosting Top Gear
, May has also hosted quirky, fact-based single-series
documentary programmes, as well as longer lasting ones such as James May's Toy Stories
, Oz And James
and James May's Man Lab
- Ambiguous Disorder: The guys do tend to joke around that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Asperger's due to the combination of his obsession with cleanliness and and order, and his Cloudcuckoolander moments. How much of this is played-up or real is an ongoing debate.
- Animals Hate Him: Jokes that his cat (a gift from Hammond) and Top Gear Dog both hate him. Also the Doves who escaped from his magic kit and proceeded to leave their droppings all over the backseats. He let one Dove out of the window to freedom... only for it to get hit seconds later by a passing lorry.
- Badasses Wear Bandanas: Sports a bandana in several of the overseas specials, when the presenters run into far more difficult challenges than usual. Also rather conveniently keeps his long hair out of his face while doing such tasks.
- Berserk Button:
- Usually unflappable, but with his fear of heights, should you annoy and run into the back of him on "Death Road" in Bolivia, he will turn Axe Crazy.
- He is extremely unhappy with cars developed on the Nürburgring and will often rant about car companies that brag on this, going so far as suggesting the Allies should have bombed the Nürburgring instead of Dresden.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Good-naturedly puts up with Clarkson and Hammond's taunts and pranks, but if he gets pushed too far, he can be harsher than both of them put together.
- Butt Monkey: The other presenters love driving into the back of him and expect any pranks performed (usually involving cows heads) to be directed at him in the specials, where the unofficial rule seems to be "get James eaten".
- Catch Phrase:
- "Oh... cock."
- "Now as you'd expect, I've done this properly."
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Seems to genuinely have this aspect to his personality, especially when it comes to directions and orientation in a physical 3-D space. Sometimes comes off as this during the news segments as well, with such Insane Troll Logic as:
- If drivers slow down for deer but speed up in the cities, put the deer in the cities.
- Banning cows would mean the end of eggs. It turns out his reasoning was that the milkman brings eggs.
- Deadpan Snarker: Often used to smugly put down his co-presenters. Is also able to say but all of the most ridiculous statements with the straightest of faces.
- Drunken Master: Manages to defeat Gordon Ramsay during The F Word's cooking challenge despite knocking back several glasses of wine while making his deceptively simple fish pie.
Ramsay: James, do you always drink like this when you're cooking?
May: Dulls the horror of the food that I'm going to eat later on.
- Extreme Omnivore:
- On Top Gear itself, he sipped Clarkson's horrible V8 smoothie containing raw beef, Bovril, peppers, and bricks with nothing but a Delayed Reaction.
- On Oz and James, he drank grape juice which he had squeezed with his own bare feet, then made wine out of other, similarly squeezed grape juice which he fermented for a week in the boot of the Jag he was driving across France. The next series of that, he still drank from the spittoon at a wine bar, even after Oz Clarke had already done so and observed that someone had stubbed out a cigarette in it.
- He defeated Gordon Ramsay's challenge by drinking snake whiskey, eating a bull penis, and then trying fermented (read: rotten) shark. Ramsay reached for the bucket after the shark, but May barely even made a face.
- In an interview, he claimed he was "catastrophically ill" that day not because of a weekend bender with Hammond and Clarkson in Dublin, but because he'd eaten a prawn sandwich on an aeroplane — and apparently endorses the ten-second rule, but admits a plane floor probably shouldn't count.
- Subverted when he has an abrupt and fleeting bout of vegetarianism during the first American road trip, was quite offended by some garlic wine he and Oz picked up in California, and once decided that a deep-fried Mars Bar made in fish-and-chip oil was comparable to the fermented shark.
- In-Series Nickname: "Captain Slow" note , "Captain Sense-of-direction"
- Foreign Culture Fetish: For Germany. Not as potent as Hammond's for the USA but he has shown his interests in Germany more than once. He loves German cars (especially Mercedes), occasionally speaks in Gratuitous German, likes airships, and has an interest in Germany's World War II military (an example being in the Middle East special where he took inspiration from the Afrika Korps while customizing his BMW convertible).
- The Good Captain: His nickname is a Lampshading of this.
- Good with Numbers: The one most likely to use maths and use them correctly.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: He does more with "Oh, cock!" than most people could with The Angry Video Game Nerd's vocabulary.
- Hates Being Touched: Not fond of "man-contact" in the earlier days of Top Gear; even a handshake was pushing it, as shown in the Great Northern Race (although the fact that the hand in question was covered in soot probably didn't help). Seems to have relaxed this slightly, though.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Played with. He can apparently drive fast when he wants to. On curvy roads he's been shown to outpace even Clarkson. However there is a limit to what he can do in the first few years, although he does get better enough later on to do power tests.
- Iconic Outfit: His stripey jumpers, specifically the pink and purple one.
- Ironic Nickname: "Captain Slow" is the only presenter to have driven the Bugatti Veyron to its maximum speed. This makes him the fastest presenter in an actual production road car.
- Kryptonite Factor: Has some degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly demonstrated through Clarkson's watch bezel.
- Limited Wardrobe: Always tends to test cars wearing the same striped maroon shirt. Played with whenever May needs to do some driving beyond his capabilities and we see the shirt being worn by another driver posing as "James."
- Neat Freak: His tools must be in order for him to begin working on a project.
- No Sense of Direction: Claims he has an electrical imbalance in his brain which leads to him visualizing the map of Britain upside-down. He once got lost on a race track. An oval race track.
- Not So Above It All: While Hammond and Clarkson tend to prank him on the road trips, there's no shortage of occasion where he and one of the other two have ganged up on the third instead. In addition, he can gloat just as loudly when he wins a challenge over the others.
- Precision F-Strike: His swearing is infrequent, but when he does it, it either means something has really gone wrong or he's about to run out of patience.
- The Quiet One: Compared to Clarkson and Hammond; if he does get a word in, expect a Character Filibuster.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Some of his favorite shirts are... loud.
Clarkson: Are you wearing that for a bet?
- Self-Deprecation: When he looks ridiculous, he's usually the first to point it out.
- Skunk Stripe: He's got two prominent white streaks starting at his temples.
- The Smart Guy: If there is science to be known or maths to be done, May is the one who will effectively wield them.
- The Stoic: He's less excitable than his colleagues and better at keeping his cool. When dealing with those who are not his co-presenters, he also falls into the "polite stoic" category.
- Straight Man: Although as Oz and James shows, it's really only compared to the other two.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: He rarely shows his anger visibly. When he does, it's a Beware the Nice Ones moment.
May: [Tonelessly] I have to have all my air vents aligned just right...and if anyone moves them...I get really angry.
- Took A Level In Badass Driving: Slowly over the course of the show, May has become a better fast driver. His driving lessons with two different F1 champions improved his driving quite a lot, and then he started doing power tests with the Stig or another driver doing laps or fast turns, and finally in the recent seasons he's been able to drive the fast corners in power tests by himself (which he described as "being overcome with yobbig-ness").
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pies, of the traditional British variety. In the caravan race, he didn't clear it out for weight the night before so he could make one for dinner, which completely destroyed his chances of winning. It also comes up often during the news segments; in one memorable instance, where the boys discussed a grocery store deal that would give credits towards a new car, May actually calculated how many pies he'd have to buy in order to pay the car off completely.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: May has a fear of heights, though that doesn't stop him from crossing the dangerous Yungas Road with the rest of the team.
The Presenters Collectively
His driving speaks for
The show's "tame racing driver," who is never seen without his racing coveralls, gloves, and (face-concealing) helmet. He is never heard speaking,
though we occasionally hear about
the driving advice he gives off camera. Has a variety of local cousins in the various locations the Top Gear
team visits. Some say that he sleeps inside out, and that he once had phone sex with Russell Brand
's answering machine... all we know is, he's called The Stig.
There have been three Stigs since the show's inception. The first Stig, Black Suit Stig (Perry McCarthy, 2002-2003) was written out of the show
after the BBC did not renew McCarthy's contract. The first White Suit Stig (Ben Collins, 2003-2010) was sacked for publicly revealing his identity. note
All three Stigs
Black Stig (Perry McCarthy)
Sacked Stig (Ben Collins)
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Third Stig aged from a baby to an adult in the matter of a month. The rapid aging is explained by Jeremy that all Stigs grow very quickly.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Third Stig, is pretty much the White Stig with different shoes and black shoulder patches. Justified in that if he was a different colour, they'd have had to change all the White Stig's merchandise.
Top Gear Dog
A female labradoodle belonging to Hammond. She appeared in Season 8 but appears to have been phased out of the show, possibly due to the small fact she dislikes being in vehicles, frequently gets car-sick and apparently hates James May
. Also known as "TG" or "Teegee."
Top Gear Stuntman
A recurring character brought in to do occasional bits of madness which fall outside of Stig's repertoire, such as trying to reproduce movie stunts or vault over a number of cars... in reverse. Like Top Gear
Dog, he has been phased out of the show.
Was a presenter with Clarkson and Hammond for Season 1 (fall/winter 2002) but then left and was replaced by James May.
Director of the "Top Gear
Technology Centre"; this means he and his team do most of the heavy lifting when the presenters are given a challenge that involves seriously modifying a car. Became prominent in the episode where Clarkson, Hammond, May and The Stig entered the Britcar 24-hour endurance race (Series 10, Ep. 09): first, by performing most of the engine, brake and suspension modifications to convert their used BMW into a racing car, and secondly, pulling an all-nighter in order to completely rebuild the engine after it blew out during James May's nighttime practice laps. Astonishingly, Steve and his team were able to do a complete engine rebuild in roughly 12 hours, allowing the presenters to take their place in the race with literally seconds to spare. Also appeared briefly in Season 12, when the lads attempted to get a Renault Avantime up to the speed of a Mitsubishi Evo 10.
A 1963 Opel Kadett which Richard Hammond bought in Botswana during the African special. Despite "his" age and third-hand ownership, Oliver survived a one-thousand mile cross-country trip straight across the spine of Botswana, including the entirety of the Makgadikgadi Pan, the largest salt flat in the world. Hammond loved the car so much that he bought it with his own money and paid to have it shipped to Britain, lovingly restored it, and even fitted it with a vanity license plate (OLI V3R). Hammond is so fond of Oliver that he forfeited one of the challenges in the "How much Lorry can you get for £5,000?" segment in Series 12 rather than risk injuring the car. Now a featured character in Hammond's children's show, Richard Hammond's Blast Lab
One of the presenters from the original, 1977 to 2001 series. Now of rival show Fifth Gear
. Is still technically counted as a Top Gear presenter (at least when James needed to race superbike piloted by a superbike champion). Also moonlighted as "emergency Stig" after the first White Stig left for one episode where he helped train that episodes guest star in a reasonably priced car (Danny Boyle).