"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.In 2002, the show underwent a significant revamp thanks to one of its old presenters, Jeremy Clarkson note Alongside fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May note , the series became a global phenomenon, which extended far beyond driving enthusiasts or even car-owners, thanks to the interplay of the three Vitriolic Best Buds and what May referred to in an interview as "self-indulgent cocking-about." In addition to doing more conventional car test drives and reviews, the series embarked on a number of segments which featured 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.After an incident in March 2015 where Clarkson assaulted a producer, his contract for the show was not renewed by the BBC; subsequently, May and Hammond decided the three were a set and opted not to return to the show either. After much speculation, Chris Evans was tapped to host the new version; Matt LeBlanc was later added as a second featured co-presenter. Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan, and Rory Reid also join in on occasional segments and in the show's 'post-game' show, Extra Gear, which 'airs' on the online-only BBC3.And, like all versions of Top Gear, the show would not be complete with out its voiceless, faceless "tame racing driver", the Stig. note Version 3.0 debuted on 29 May 2016 for a run of six episodes. The re-tooled show seems to focus more on car reviews and its celebrity interview segments (removing the news segment completely and moving it over to Extra Gear) though they have retained some of the wacky stunts from the previous incarnation. Also, the 'Star In A Reasonably Priced Car' segment has been retooled to use a BMW Mini Cooper rallycar, with the test track expanded with the celebs going through an water splash and a small jump. (Test laps with The Stig still use the same track as before.) After fan criticism and declining ratings, in July 2016, Evans announced he was departing the show after only one season. LeBlanc, on the other hand, was warmly welcomed by viewers and the BBC locked him into a multi-season deal as a result.Meanwhile, Clarkson, Hammond, and May were hired by Amazon Prime to host The Grand Tour, a Spiritual Successor to their tenure on Top Gear note , set to debut on the streaming service on 18 November 2016.
— Also Jeremy Clarkson
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 in 2010 during the show's 3rd season (an abridged version of the episode was shown in the UK during Series 16).
- An American version, airing on the History Channel, it now has its own page. One of the hosts, rallycar driver Tanner Faust, appeared in Series 22 of the British version. Sadly, it was cancelled in June 2016 after six seasons, although hope remains the show could find a new home at a different network.
- 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 Sabine Schmitz among its hosts. They appeared in an episode of Series 11 in 2008, in a series of challenges against the UK crew. Schmitz later appeared as a presenter during Series 23.