"This... is a car programme. There will be no cushions, there will be no rag-rolling, no-one will sing, and at the end of the series, no-one will have a recording contract. This is our new base, and this is our purpose-built test track. There are no traffic jams here, well... apart from this one, and no bus-lanes either. This... is Top Gear!"
— Jeremy Clarkson, First Episode Intro
"Top Gear: Ambitious but Rubbish!"Top Gear is an award-winning (BAFTA/Emmy) BBC magazine series about automobiles and motoring. It started in 1977 as a fairly conventional auto show, but after being revamped in 2002 (following a one-year cancellation in 2001-2) it took a turn to become more overtly humorous. The show is very popular, with an audience estimated at about 8 million per week on the BBC and around 350 million worldwide.The show's appeal, which extends far beyond driving enthusiasts or even car-owners, is the interplay of the three presenters and what presenter James May referred to in an interview as "self-indulgent cocking-about." In addition to doing more conventional car test drives and reviews, it has undertaken a number of segments which feature unique and humorous premises. For more detailed examples of what cocking-about one might actually see, please check the Segments page. The show also has an official, legal and above-board YouTube channel with abridged versions of various segments.The presenters of the 2002-2015 incarnation of the show were:
— Also Jeremy Clarkson
- Jeremy Clarkson: The Smug Snake, power charged-loving leader of the central trio. He's certainly the most controversial.
- Richard Hammond: The second in command; the moodiest member of the group, but also the most daring.
- James May: The Smart Guy, a picture-perfect Straight Man with a gift for deadpan delivery and understatement.
Becoming quite an international favorite, Top Gear has spawned a number of localized spin-offs:
- The Australian version, obviously named Top Gear Australia. Sadly canceled in September 2011, but not before crossing over with the UK crew for a pair of highly-entertaining episodes.
- An American version, which now has its own page. One of the hosts, rallycar driver Tanner Faust, appeared in Series 22.
- In Asia, there are Chinese, Russian, and Korean versions. The Chinese version has become hugely popular, with an audience of 200 million, with nearly 95% of that number watching online.
- Top Gear France debuted in 2015, complete with "Le Stig."
- An unofficial German equivalent called D Motor, which featured frequent Top Gear Sixth Ranger guest (and now a co-presenter of the new series under Evans) Sabine Schmitz among its hosts.