Abhorrent Admirer: Richard Hammond gets a fan letter, ostensibly from a mentally-disturbed prisoner about to be released on parole....named Stuart.
May: It's better than that. Stuart, come on in! Hammond: [terrified expression]
Absurdly-Long Limousine: Clarkson's "Giant Panda", which was so longnote Roughly 45 feet that it wasn't even road-legal and wound up breaking in half after being hastily truncated. It was also only a two door car, meaning the person sitting in the back had to use a cart on a pulley to get from his seat to the door.
May: It's an ingenious solution to a problem that never should've existed in the first place.
Special mention goes to Hammond's convertible limo. He chose an MGF because it was rear engined, but didn't install rear doors or a full length roof, so the passenger had to get in and out using a pool ladder, but did have part of a roof over their head. It also needed a giant spoiler on the rear, and the throttle became stuck open.
Actor Allusion: All the presenters take jabs at each other based on their other TV work:
Hammond got a lot of stick from Clarkson and May firstly for 'selling out to day-time television' with Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show, and secondly for presenting mindless programmes like Blast Lab and Total Wipeout. He plays up the amoral Money, Dear Boy image, for example putting adverts for those shows on his car instead of moralistic anti-drugs messages in the Bolivia special.
May presenting James May's Toy Stories.
Clarkson: We really need James May for this test, but he's busy. He's probably building a nuclear submarine out of LEGO or something.
During the Romania trip:
Hammond : [voiceover] James was merrily tootling along, apparently under the illusion he was presenting his wine programme. May : ...good place to stop for grapes, this. There's a person holding up a bag of grapes, and two more holding up similar bags, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth. [pause] I think we're well covered for grapes, then.
Clarkson and May take the piss out of Hammond for hosting Planet Earth Live during their search for the source of the Nile.
Clarkson: This is strangely familiar, you telling me about animals you've just seen that I haven't...
Adorkable: James May, who balances his love of science and maths with an affable nature. Clarkson and Hammond also have their moments, such as Hammond falling in "love" with Oliver in Botswana.
May demonstrates his Adorkable quality perfectly reviewing NASA's next Moon vehicle.
Clarkson and May, driving over the sea ice during the Polar Special.
All three presenters while driving over the Yungas Road in Bolivia, especially when Clarkson was trying to pass an oncoming car.
Also in South America, when Clarkson and May had to drive down the giant sand dune to the Pacific Ocean.
Clarkson's three story motorhome constantly threatened to tip over while driving it. It was played mostly for laughs, but it became an adult fear when he reached a rather long and tall bridge.
Definitely Richard Hammond's jet-powered car crash. He did everything he could to prevent it and still nearly died, was in a coma for some time and suffered from memory loss, depression, and difficulties with emotional experiences. Add to it the fact that he has a loving family with two young girls and it makes it even more scary.
James's concussion in the Top Gear Middle East Special also counts, especially the scary moment after the fall when you can clearly see the confusion on May's face as he couldn't remember where he was or what happened and the serious tone of the concerned crew who are usually quite jovial about each others miseries and pains.
Clarkson in the Middle-East Special declares himself the Son of God due to him being "JC". He then proceeds to "heal" James May's earlier head injury (i.e. takes the bandage off) and makes enough food for all three presenters, which he only manages because Hammond hates fish. He then walks on water; when May and Hammond challenge him to walk a little bit to one side, he falls feet-first into the Sea of Galilee.
The Alleged Car: Every now and again, particularly during the cheap car challenges and overseas specials:
The FSO Polonez, a Polish-built Fiat 125 derivative which so offended Clarkson that he decreed it be used to play conkers with the aid of an electromagnetic crane.
Just about every car in the segment answering the question "Did the Communists ever produce a good car?" Answer: "No".
Perhaps the best example: Clarkson's Maserati from the "Italian Supercars for Less than a Second-Hand Mondeo" challenge. Its engine completely and literally disintegrated (that is, showered the road with bits and pieces of itself) while under power. Jeremy also mentions the previous owner claimed to have spent £10,000 to have the engine rebuilt, but ultimately sold it for only £7,000. Notably the Maserati was a pretty literal example, as it was allegedly a Merak SS, but it turned out someone had just added an SS badge to the base car, so it was dynoed just 80 brake horsepower even before it broke; it was a supercar In Name Only.
In fact, that particular episode showcased the trope well in another way: none of the cars got to the finish line, due to various mechanical breakdowns.
Clarkson's Lancia Beta Coupe during the Botswana special. If there wasn't a piece of cardboard over the battery terminals, it shorted out against the hood. Among other things, such as utterly refusing to start half the time.
The British Leyland cars that they had to prove were not crap, especially Clarkson's Rover and Hammond's Dolly, fall into this area. For example, in a "driving comfortability" test, the Dolomite Sprint lost six pieces and the Rover lost two pieces, including the entire left back door. Oddly enough, outside of appearance, James May's Austin Princess was the least like this.
Clarkson: He's twenty pounds in the BLACK! note The producers said British Leyland never made anything worth buying and didn't want to do the segment in the first place, so they made them pay for their cars out of pocket, with a limit of £1,200, but would pay £1 per point earned in each challenge.
Inverted by the emergency backup vehicles the producers will sometimes provide. Said cars * Or in Vietnam's case, motorbike are always mechanically reliable, yet all three presenters will hate them for one reason or another and rather be dead or spend all night desperately fixing on their purchased bangers than drive it. For example, the backup bike for the Vietnam special was painted with the American flag and played "Born in the U.S.A."* The iTunes and Net Flix versions replace this with "Star Spangled Banner". on a loop at top volume.
Clarkson: Children, if you are watching this at home and you don't know why this is as inappropriate a bike as it's humanly possible to conceive, ask your parents.
Clarkson's Vespa during the Vietnam challenge was horribly unsuited to the area, slow, fragile and falling apart, and Clarkson's modifications (adding about a dozen mirrors to the front) didn't help.
The Top Gear homemade "hybrid" electric car, the "Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust". Despite being completely "road-legal",* Not really, as the boys fudged the tests required to make it road-legal in the EU for comedic value it was close to utterly undrivable and downright dangerous, with "features" such as a shiny aluminium bonnet that blinded the driver, a lawn-chair-based interior, a plastic 'observation bubble' made from a translucent plastic crate, two batteries to power it, a top speed of ten miles per hour, and a moustache. Autocar magazine didn't think much of it, although hilariously they still ranked it higher than the Reva G-Wiz (a real mass produced electric car). It also killed the Green Stig from the diesel exhaust from the generator inside the car.
Richard Hammond's "Donkey" from the Bolivia special, a Toyota Land Cruiser which had things go wrong with such regularity you could set your watch by it.
Clarkson's Ford GT. Though undoubtedly a cool car, it was so poorly built he never actually completed a journey from his home to the studio and back.
The All Solving Hammer: If Jeremy Clarkson is ever in a garage, be assured that a hammer is not far away. He has used it to "repair" everything from door mirrors to stubborn gas caps.
May: [while Clarkson is looking at a board of tools] That's the precision tool board. The hammer lives elsewhere.
Ambiguously Gay: All three presenters frequently try to paint the others as this.
Jeremy finds an online car magazine titled "Top Gayer", and accuses Hammond of leading a double life as its editor.
James and Richard accuse Jeremy of this after Jeremy was a bit TOO enthusiastic in his interview with Will Young.
Anything that isn't life-threatening is played for humor. Even Hammond's accident comes up for laughs every now and then, but only well after the fact, and very delicately.
One particularly amusing injury was Clarkson testing the Nissan GT-R: it created so much lateral G's during high speed turns that he almost temporarily paralyzed himself, requiring an ambulance and stretcher. Naturally, Hammond called him a wimp.
In Series 13, an award was given out for "Injury of the Year" in which the nominees were Hammond faking a crash test under an undercranked camera, Clarkson getting nailed in the plums by a paintball fired out of an F1 car's exhaust, and May falling on his face on a barge gangplank in Bolivia. The winner was actually (excerpted from some out-takes) both Hammond and May repeatedly bashing their heads against a very obvious camera light mounted in the windscreen of the Panamera they were racing against the Royal Mail.
And This Is for...: During the American South challenge, the presenters were told to paint offensive slogans on the other's cars, with points awarded if the person driving said car was arrested or killed. They took on the job with a surprising lack of reluctance.
Hammond: [painting Clarkson's car] Revenge for all those height gags. Every time he's called me "Hamster." Clarkson: [painting May's car] This is for every time you've been late and lost. May: [defending his work to a genuinely dismayed Hammond and Clarkson] All the times you drove into the back of my Cadillac.
Angrish: Get Hammond flustered or angry enough and he will lose the ability to speak coherently. The India Special also reveals that, if trapped in a queue too long, Hammond begins to swear compulsively.
"I have this thing where, if I'm stuck in a $*#@(ing queue to long, I, #%43, wait, I just did it there, didn't I? #&^@. I need to ^#(@&ing get out of here."
In the "affordable small cars" challenge, each presenter had to load a large dog into his choice of car and do a lap — though points would be lost if the dog looked sad afterwards. (The credits included the fake disclaimer: "Some animals were harmed in the making of this programme.")
Answer Cut: Fairly frequent. For example, from the Vietnam special:
Hammond: Do you think [Jeremy's] enjoying his first biking experience? [cut to] Clarkson: [riding his scooter, alone, on a street darkened by torrential rain] "I am the most miserable human being alive!"
Anticlimax: A regular occurrence, but often happens when the audience least expects it.
When they drove an F1 car indoors, and it managed... 90mph. They still broke the indoor speed record.
After years of hype, the Bugatti Veyron finally did a power lap... and finished fourth on the overall board before being immediately bumped down to fifth by a new Zonda. As Clarkson noted, they actually did end on a bombshell for once.
Arguably, any time a car does a lap on the track, gets placed on the board, then is immediately taken down for violating one of the rules (too low, slick tires, what have you).
After 12.06 when May and Clarkson set a Morris Marina on fire, they received so much hate mail from the Morris Marina Owners Club that subsequently whenever the car appears on camera, it is almost guaranteed to be destroyed, usually by a piano falling on it.
Anyone Can Die: Due to the nature of the show, the presenters might be seriously hurt or even killed while filming. That being said, every effort is made to minimize the risk. They also make jokes about this such as "So, we'll come back to that later and see if I die or not" during a dangerous challenge.
It's been played with on a number of occasions. Richard (e.g. Car for a 17-Year Old Challenge) and James (e.g. 100 Pound Cars Challenge, Communist Cars, Albanian Trip) have crashed into something and played dead. The remaining presenters will cheerfully discuss how they ought to replace their late comrade, often giving the BBC mailing address to ask for a new presenter. After Hamster's accident it was revealed that the presenters have a pact that should any of them be Killed Off for Real, then they would start the next episode of the show with a mournful announcement, pause for a moment, then kill the mood completely by cheerfully saying "Anyway..." and carrying on as normal.
Appropriated Appellation: "Hamster," and to a much lesser extent "Captain Slow." "The Stig" was also the name stuck on new boys at Clarkson and Andy Wilman's old school — it has since become synonymous with white clothing and sheer automotive badassery.
Arch-Enemy: Rubens Barrichello seems to have become one to The Stig, after he broke his lap record time in the Liana.
Shortly after that episode, Jay Kay came back to try and retake his former spot at the top of the board, and mentioned he owned a Grosser originally owned by Coco Chanel (Jeremy's was owned by the Egyptian ambassador).
Clarkson trying (and failing miserably) to hit biathlon shooting targets with an MP5A5 machine pistol during the Winter Olympics special.
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.
Averted by the time they do the US East Coast challenge in Series 16, as they get instruction from a trained expert.
A-Team Montage: Used during the overseas trips when the challenge has the presenters working to modify their rides, often including the actual A-Team theme music. Lampshaded several times:
In the Winter Olympics special, when the theme to The A-Team was used as background music for the A-Team Montage of the boys preparing the rocket-powered Morris Mini and the Lillehammer ski jump for the Mini's ski jump attempt.
The theme music was hummed by James May in the Vietnam Special during a montage of the boys modifying their cycles into watercraft so they can make it to the finish line in Ha Long Bay.
The music was played in both the Bolivia and Middle East specials, when Clarkson announced it was time to "find a workshop and cue the music."
Played in the Africa special when building a car ferry with a traditional African music flavor to it, including chanting.
The car for the elderly also gets a montage, but since it is a car for old people, it's a much more sedate, classically-styled version.
Also lampshaded in the 100 pound car challenge when all three of them show up at the test track...although Clarkson came in a little later
Supercars: easy to break, easy to do stupid things and get yourself killed todeath in, unsafe in various other ways ("but what a way to go!"), hard to see out of, hard to park, short and wide, and not just expensive sticker-wise: they guzzle fuel, burn through lots of tyres, incur boggling maintenance bills, and depreciate in resale value right off of a cliff, especially if you don't max out the options list when you buy them new and pick a popular color.
To make things worse, when supercars catch on fire, because of the materials they're made of, they actually burn more intensely than normal cars. Catching fire and burning to the ground is definitely awesome and impractical, but horrifying if it's yours or you appreciate cars. And yet: "Well, we're not in it, we're not moving in it, but I'm still enjoying it."
Taken to an utter extreme with the GT 40. Jeremy utterly fell in love with the new version Ford released, all but giggling with glee when driving it. Richard and James however pointed out a huge problem with the thing, the fuel economy. The car has a 17.5 gallon tank, but does 4 miles to the gallon. That means, on a full tank, Jeremy would only be able to go 75 Miles before needing a refuel. The drive from his house to the BBC office is 76 miles. It later won the worst gas milage, even over "a burning oil refinery."
The V8 Blender, which can blend bones and a brick, but is used to make terrible creations. For example, the concoction that James May dubbed "The Bloody Awful".
A Wizard Did It: Richard proposed this as an answer to Jeremy, since Clarkson did not understand how the Fisker Karma's power system works and James was unable to provide a concise answer that Jeremy understood.
Backed By The Ministry Of Defence: Top Gear frequently has appearances from members of the British Army, Royal Marines or Royal Air Force, taking part in all sorts of hijinks under the guise of car tests. This includes a tank/an attack helicopter/snipers from the Irish Guards hunting down Jeremy Clarkson as he drives a car or SUV, and more recently Clarkson reviewing the new Ford Fiesta in part by using it in a Royal Marine beach assault and playing a motorised version of British Bulldog with various armoured vehicles and a Mitsubishi, Richard Hammond racing a British Army parachutist or RAF pilot flying a Eurofighter Typhoon (Hammond's first shot at driving the Bugatti Veyron), and a BAE Sea Harrier doing a Power Lap.
In 2009, the MoD revealed that since 2004, the Armed Forces were involved in filming for the equivalent of 141 days and civilian officials spent 48 days working on items for the programme. Although there was a bit of snarkery over this, the MoD insists that it was an excellent way to boost support for the Army. Clarkson notably supports the troops, and he is a patron of Help For Heroes
Badass Adorable: The Stig, ever since the declassification of pictures and video of their breeding program. Suddenly the world's most badass drivers have become a cross between Chickens and Lambs.
After Clarkson did a 9:59 around the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a diesel Jaguar his mentor Sabine Schmidt declared "I could do that in a van!" When given the chance she failed but was so close that she didn't harm her reputation as a Badass Driver
Badass Grandpa: Michael Gambon, who in his first time on the track clipped the last corner and nearly rolled the Liana. He ended up being airborne and taking the corner on two wheels at one point. The last corner is now called "Gambon" in his honor.
Clarkson: Last time tonight's star was here he performed so well, a corner was named after him. Please welcome Sir Michael Follow-Through!
He then clipped the corner again in the Lacetti. When Jeremy questioned him on this, he claimed "I don't know, I just don't like it".
Bamboo Technology: Clarkson's BMW estate in the Africa Special lacked a working handbrake (among other problems), so for hill starts he devised a surprisingly useful and simple solution: a log tied to the back of the bumper that could be rolled out and deployed by hand to use as a chock. Well, it worked until it kicked up and smashed his rear window out while driving.
Bank Robbery: The final challenge of the luxury saloon test in Albania.
Clarkson: The next morning, we found a bank full of money and robbed it.
Ban On Politics: Averted; the show seems to have a policy of showing equally withering contempt for all politicians regardless of party—in contrast to Clarkson's earlier programmes where he openly supported the Conservatives.
Clarkson: Richard, that jacket... how bad was the bet you lost? Hammond: Pretty bad.
Beware the Nice Ones: James May; on the rare occasions May gets fed up with his co-presenters, what he does to them is usually much crueler than what they've been doing to him:
In the Bolivia special, he nearly "macheted [Clarkson] to death" when Clarkson trod on his frazzled nerves on the frightening cliffside "Road of Death." To be fair to James, it was a genuinely dangerous situation and not in the least bit funny. Most people probably would have lost their rag.
In the "Paint stuff on your co-presenter's cars so they get shot and/or arrested driving through Alabama" challenge, James' slogan was the one that by far the scariest thing to have on the side of your car when driving through Alabama... MAN LOVE RULES OK. Hammond looked genuinely alarmed about having to drive with that on his car, and with good reason.
In a challenge segment, Clarkson, Hammond, and May were competing against the hosts of German car show D Motor, who often spoke in their native language. Let's just say that the translations from German were often incomplete (or left out entirely) for decency reasons.
During the Cheap Track Day Car Challenge in Germany, James lets a "scheisse" slip while trying to work his horribly-arranged gear box.
In the Season 16 Albanian Mafia episode, Jeremy mentions that they can't use the word "car" because it means "gentleman's sausage." The other presenters (and likely most viewers, given the show) thought he was making it up. He wasn't; "kar" is, indeed, a filthy word in Albanian. And "piçkë" (which sounds like "peach") does mean "lady garden" (as he put it) as well. As well as how "My car is a peach" would make any Albanians confused and angry.
Clarkson (Bugatti Veyron) vs. May and Hammond (private plane/Eurostar rail system) race to London: Clarkson won but claimed the victory was "hollow" because he would have to live the rest of his life knowing what the Veyron was like to drive but never owning one.
Later, in Series 12, Clarkson drove another supercar, but it was less about the car, and more about the fact that it was really the end of the supercar era, due to fuel econony standards and economic concerns. Complete with sad music.
Hammond (Ferrari Daytona) vs. May (carbon-fiber superboat) race to Saint-Tropez. May arrived first, but Hammond claimed moral victory on the basis of the Ferrari's style (which May conceded). Hammond was nevertheless disappointed that the French Riviera had lost much of its glitter
Hammond: [sitting in a traffic jam] Oh, now this isn't right. Holiday homes for sale... Burgers... Traffic. [sadly] The car's still brilliant, but the world has changed...
The 'review' of the new Aston Martin, which ended the 13th season.
James May reviewing the NASA Space Exploration Vehicle.
May: [watching footage of the Apollo missions] It's not half as sad as [a moon vehicle] that will never go up there at all.
Clarkson: There's only two fish. Hammond: I don't like fish. Clarkson: Well there you are, I've solved it. May: (sarcastic) It's a miracle. Clarkson: That is a miracle. Hammond: Well, hardly!
The last episode of season 16 pits Clarkson in a race against God.note Really a race against the sun with Clarkson trying to get from the west end of Britain to the east end before sunrise. Highlights of the commentary include God allegedly teaming up with Satan (Manifested in Road Work and Speed Cameras) to beat Clarkson. Clarkson wins. Just.
In the lorry driving challenge, Richard Hammond's cargo (a small car) had fallen unnoticed out of the trailer during the alpine course. When Jeremy Clarkson showed up:
Clarkson: This is totally ... so anyway, how was your car? [pause as May and Hammond exchange glances] May: Car's... Hammond: [interrupting] Stolen! That's what it is, I've just thought of it now: stolen. The damnedest thing.
In the British Leyland challenge, one of the tests required the presenters to drive their cars to the top of a steep hill, put the handbrake on and get out of the car. Clarkson's car couldn't even get to the top of the hill, but generated so much smoke while he was trying to get to the top that he claimed he'd completed the test, it just happened that no-one saw him do it because of all the smoke. Naturally, everyone believed him.
When in the Car vs. Boat vs. Bike vs. Public Transport challenge the car (driven by James May) came in dead last, all three presenters banded together to claim that the footage had been edited, going so far as to claim that the Thames didn't exist and Jeremy Clarkson had been killed when his boat exploded (as stated by Clarkson himself). Even more hilarious because at the top of the show, Clarkson had announced Top Gear had just won the National Television Award for Most Popular Factual Programme. It was also close to the time the BBC got into a bit of trouble showing a clip of the Queen "storming out" of having her portrait done...when in-fact the footage was filmed before she even entered the session. Jeremy does like Biting-the-Hand Humor.
Even more directly, the intro to episode 10x2 promised a segment where Jeremy drives a Ferrari on the moon. During the news segment, the hosts announced that segment could not be shown due to the BBC objecting to the part when the Queen stormed off the moon.
The episode with the Hammerhead Eagle iThrust car was an entire exercise in blatant lies, basically from start to (almost) finish.
Clarkson tends to really let loose on the blatant lies when an attractive female celebrity is the SIARPC. Kirsten Scott Thomas and Cameron Diaz are two prominent examples:
Diaz: I usually just drive around in my Prius. Clarkson: You have a Prius? I love the Prius. It is my favourite car.
In the latter case, Clarkson and May stated they had no problem with the cars themselves, only that it was that it is nigh-on impossible to recharge them. The "official" charging points often fall far outside of the range you could do if you were running with a low battery, which is no different than showing a car break down from their owner not realising they were running out of petrol. Likewise, Clarkson's battery was totally flat, and their problem was that it'd take over nearly 15 hours to recharge them. Their later discussion of how long the battery life lasts (5 years) and the high cost of replacing them had them note that a normal member of the public wouldn't be willing to put up with this hassle in comparison to how easily petrol-engined cars can be maintained; thus for now, electric cars are not feasible for the mass public. Despite what a Guardian journalist claimed, this is the entire point of the show.
When the producers challenged the presenters to prove that British sports cars weren't rubbish, they took the art of Blatant Lies to a whole new level. Virtually every thing they said during the film was ... dubiously honest. Examples include Hammond accidentally parking his Lotus Elan over an oil spill, (May: "You've parked over a bit of broken bodywork, as well.") describing most of their cars' numerous faults as "safety features," and sabotaging all of the Stig's hot hatchback tests that were supposed to easily defeat the British cars.
Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: "In the BMW, just by folding the seats down, I have managed to fit in a massive 60kg of cheese. (Then, of the car it was being compared to)... Just 57kg of cheese in this one, but if we convert cheese into dogs, that would work out to 4.4 Great Danes."
"Blind Idiot" Translation: While Clarkson and May are attempting to operate the DeDion-Bouton, with instructions "translated" from the original French:
Clarkson: [reading] "For making the carriage walking at the first speed, take back the drag of the wheel backward crowbar of the right and take completely and progressively back the crowbar of embrayage to you..."
Hammond: Nobody outside of a comic strip is called "Max Venturi, Lamborghini Tester"!
Hammond: "They gave us each twelve hundred pounds of our own money—" "Mmhmm" "—and set us a series of challenges."
Boomerang Bigot: Jeremy dislikes Americans, despite the fact that his definition of "American" largely fits himself as well. Its also worth pointing out that whenever he goes to America, he usually manages to enjoy himself quite thoroughly.
Bottle Episode: Occasionally the presenters tell us they've "spent all the money" and can't afford their normal mix of insane stunts and expensive cars. In one early instance, they claimed they couldn't even afford their theme tune, so May had to fill in on a Casio keyboard.
During the Top Gear vs. D-Motor episode, Clarkson tells Hammond that May has been replaced by the Stig to win a race.
Hammond: Some say you saved our bacon. May: Others say I was bound and gagged in the locker room.
In Series 14, Clarkson is seen tied up in a chair so that Hammond and May can work on their car sculptures uninterrupted. Clarkson gets the last laugh in this situation when he gets hold of the service history for the car and informs Hammond and May that the car they're working on is, in fact, a rental. After they've sliced it in half.
While reviewing cars Jeremy has personally owned during "The Worse Car In The World" DVD, May ties Clarkson to a tree and gags him to prevent him from interjecting his opinions. Fear not, as Clarkson gets his revenge while reviewing May's cars.
Brand X: The Stig has a credit card from the "Bank of Money".
It's subtle, but when the boys are building their electric car, Clarkson makes a comment on how he's taken his design lead from shelving. When The Reveal of the car finally comes, you can see what he meant.
In the 2010 Christmas special, Richard Hammond comments on how he played a mouse in a Christmas pantomime. As they reach Bethlehem, they notice a mouse running in a wheel on the stable wall. This is, of course brought up by Hammond.
In the Oslo race in season six Clarkson was given a CD of speeches by Margaret Thatcher. Guess what he started playing to motivate road workers three seasons later?
During their "Amphibious Car" challenge, Clarkson notes that among the magazine Hammond picked up was a copy of "Gay Times". When May and Hammond's cars breakdown later on, they decide to wait until the engine cools. Cut to them having a cup of tea, reading magazines... and guess which one May was reading?
In the episode where they test cars in Albania, Jeremy quickly points out they can't say "car" or "peach", because they mean penis and vagina, respectively. During the bank robbery at the end of the episode, James is stuck driving a Yugo and calls the others "a pair of utter, utter cars".
In the India Challenge, May demonstrates a self-powered lawnmower for some Indian muckety-mucks, and it gets away from him. The next morning, it is still driving around and he points out that the throttle is stuck. And at the end of the episode, the credits roll over a shot of the three presenter's cars set up on frames showing the Union Flag, on a mountain in the Himalayas... and the lawnmower trundles through the foreground, also wearing the Union Flag.
Here's one that took several series to drop: In season 3, episode 5 (the one where they attempt to destroy the Toyota Hilux) Hammond attempts to find cars that are future classics. One of these is a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth, and he claims that Martin Brundle said it had one of the best handling saloon car chassis anywhere in the world. Cut to series 15, episode 2, when the boys are given one of their Top Gear Cheap Car Challenges to find the ultimate track day car for less than £5000. May shows up in a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth and states the same fact... but later in the show, Clarkson calls Martin Brundle to prove that May is being an idiot:
'Martin Brundle': ... When did I say that? I've hada few knocks on the head, but I don't remember ever saying that.
Series 18 Episode 6 had a bit in the news about the trio going to Moscow and finding that a spectacular view of the Kremlin was ruined by Audi parking one of their new SU Vs on the balcony and blocking everything. This was followed by several images of an Audi SUV blocking the view of national monuments (among other things). Toward the end of the episode, Hammond is suddenly blocked by an Audi SUV in front of him. This reappears again.....one week later with the next episode.
Brief Accent Imitation: German, Russian, Australian and American English have had their share of gefingerpoken
British Brevity: At most, a series will have eleven episodes. Top Gear makes up for that by having two series a year.
British Teeth: Inversion: the continual comedic accusation leveled at (and denied by) Richard Hammond that he has had his teeth whitened. Hammond occasionally gets Clarkson back by pointing out Jeremy plays this trope straight.
Broken Aesop: At the end of the episode recapping Richard Hammond's unfortunate debacle with the jet-powered car at 288 mph.
Clarkson: The thing is, though, we have learned an important lesson today, thanks to Richard — do please remember: speed kills. [Cut to Hammond, looking incredulous and very much alive.]
Bucket Helmet: In the Vietnam Special, Hammond was the only one whose head was small enough to fit inside a locally-bought helmet, so May resorted to using a colander for head protection and Clarkson used a metal bucket until he could get a real helmet.
Buffy Speak: In the Vietnam Special, Hammond resorts to this when May ignores his order to stop talking, telling him to, "stop moving your face about with noises coming out of it".
The Bus Came Back: A variation; Richard Hammond recently hosted a Top Gear special, "Fifty Years of Bond Cars". During the show he briefly interviewed former Stig Ben Collins, who was one of the stunt drivers in Skyfall.
Hammond is usually the one to get drowned or struck by lightning for the stunts, while in the Car vs. Something Else challenges Hammond is always the one to cycle across London or try to reach the North Pole with a dogsled, while May or Clarkson drive. Amusingly, and much to the chagrin of the other two, Hammond often wins anyway. Hammond's also the youngest and in the best shape, so he's the one that has to do physical stunts by default.
May is frequently mocked for being slow, dull, old-fashioned, and obsessively tidy, and odds are if there's a prank being pulled, it's usually on him. They love to run into the back of any car he's driving, and "Get James eaten" seems to be an unofficial challenge in many of the overseas specials.
As Season 12 amply demonstrates, rule of thumb dictates that Clarkson has his fair share too. See the Vietnam Special.
As far as cars go, the Reliant Robin, the Morris Marina, and any and all caravans.
When Clarkson road tests the Renault Twingo, Ross Kemp is the boot, supposedly to demonstrate how much space there is.
Serves as a Running Gag in Clarkson's Season 19 Sensible Kia "Cee-apostrophe-d" review. First, the old Star-In-A-Reasonably-Priced Car version is pitted against the newest version of the Cee'd by Matt Leblanc, who's in the top spot on the SIARPC leaderboard and flew in from Hollywood just to do the test. He gets straight back in his limo and leaves immediately after he's done. A "local guitarist" is then called in to see if a guitar can be plugged into the Cee'd; said guitarist is Eric Clapton. And then, one test is simply "Can officer John McClane operate the horn?" Three guesses as to who turns up to do just that.
Camera Abuse: Often. Cameras, high-speed vehicles, and rough roads/seas are a bad combination.
In the "police cars" challenge, Clarkson smeared petroleum jelly on the lens of a camera to get a dramatic 'soft focus' (read as "hopelessly blurry") effect for his power lap.
Inverted during the Panamera vs. Royal Mail chase, when Hammond and May took turns having their heads abused by a very pointy camera light. They speculated that after having headbutted it twice each, it would no longer work, but it did.
When May raced Hammond along the French Riviera, the camera in the speed boat took such a battering that the red component of the colour signal was destroyed, leaving the colours looking very odd indeed for the rest of the race.
Candid Camera Prank: The "paint offensive slogans on your cars and rile the locals" scene in the American South special is one that went horribly wrong.
The Captain: Clarkson. His leadership is so obvious and unquestioned that the German hosts of D Motor called him "Top Gear Boss" for most of their crossover episode.
Clarkson's Volvo in the car-for-a-17-year-old challenge. In all fairness, it could have been a pack of roving anarchists.
A few of the challenges have involved deliberately crashing their cars/lorries into various structures.
To a lesser degree, Clarkson's Citroen motorhome into a petrol station overhang
Car Porn: Arguably the point of the show. If you aren't watching for the chemistry and wacky hijinks of the presenters, you're there to gaze slack-jawed slobbering over Clarkson's toy of the week. This a show by and for petrol/gear-heads.
Carrying a Cake: James May's cargo in the "Lorries" challenge was a giant wedding cake, which met a predictable fate. Clarkson and Hammond (pile of straw + electric heater; unsecured car, respectively) fared worse, however.
Cassandra Truth: In the 2013 Africa special, May doesn't believe Clarkson and Hammond when they tell him that you drive on the other side of the road in Rwanda compared to Uganda - until he meets a vehicle coming the other way.
Casual Danger Dialog: Clarkson, fleeing through a shopping mall while "baddies" pursue him in a Corvette, divides his time between reviewing aspects of the Ford Fiesta he is driving and commenting on the shortcomings of the 'Vette.
Jeremy Clarkson: "...and on that bombshell, goodnight!"; "How hard can it be?"; "Still. Could be worse..."; "I went on the Internet... and I found this." ; "POWERRRRRR" ; "...but that's exactly what they'd be expecting us to do."; "We cheat." (or variations thereof); "Some poo's come out."
Richard Hammond: [while introducing a stunt] "...I think you can see where this is going." "Don't like that." "[I've/we've/they've done/bought/should-do/etc X] because... it's just better."; "Don't say that!" [in response to Jeremy's "How hard can it be?"]
James May: "Oh... cock." "As you'd expect, I've done this properly..." "What a pillock."
Any of the presenters: "Nobody in the whole of human history has ever said that before"; "A series of challenges"; [Introducing the Stig] "Some say... And that... All we know is, he's called The Stig"; "Can I just say...".
For the show as a whole: "Top Gear, ambitious, but rubbish"
Cats Are Mean: James May's late cat, Fusker. May has stated (on Something For The Weekend) that the cat loathed his guts and, just like Richard Hammond (whose wife Mindy gave him the cat), was always trying to kill him.
Clarkson: [pointing at May] He said the other day, when I said I'm going to set my dog on his cat, 'oh, he won't be able to do it!' May: What, your gay dog comes round to see my cat? He'll get his bloody head kicked in!
And during the news segment of the American East Coast special:
May: The fact is if I was only three inches tall, but the same person, the cat would kill me.
Caustic Critic: Probably all the presenters at times, but especially Clarkson.
The version of the V8 blender episode broadcast on Dave changed Richard's suggested name for their smoothie, "Desperate Shag in a Skip," to "Desperate (BLEEP) in a Skip." Which, when you think about it, sounds much worse than the original version. Bizarrely, May's suggested name, "The Bloody Awful," wasn't bleeped out at all, although that's probably just as well, since "The (BLEEP) Awful" would also sound ruder than the version it had replaced.
All instances of May using the word "cock" are bleeped out on Dave and BBC America. Considering May uses that word in places where other people might use rather stronger language, this has the amusing side-effect of making May seem a lot more foul-mouthed than he really is.
Clarkson wields one in the Bolivia Special while boasting "I am the god of hellfire!" . A deleted scene also shows Clarkson and May nearly getting into a chainsaw vs. machete fight when the former threatened the latter's Suzuki.
Averted when May also uses one in the North Pole Special, while balancing on a bridge of ice. Clarkson tells him to stop before he cuts his arm off.
Character Development: All three. Over the course of 12 seasons, Clarkson has become sharper on some issues and mellower on others; Hammond has become slightly less reckless; and May has become bolder, freer, and faster.
Character Filibuster: This trope was designed for May. He often goes on rants so long-winded or into such meticulous detail about physics, they've actually shaded it by fading out between scenes, coming back later to find that he is still talking.
In the "Top Gear Ashes" challenge against the Top Gear Australia team, the UK team tried to rig a skid-pan challenge by having Hammond and May as the judges. They both gave Clarkson and the Stig marks of 6.0 for their effort, and then both tried to give the Australia team 1.1. Unfortunately Hammond forgot to put the decimal point on his card and thus gave the Australians a score of 11, which ended up giving them a higher score than the UK team, with 12.1 compared to 12.0.
In the next event Clarkson once again tries to slight the Aussie team by providing them with Austrian bikes ("Oh, Austrian, Australian, same thing"). When the Aussies aren't upset at this, and are in fact rather pleased because the bikes are actually good, Clarkson scolds Team UK for the oversight.
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: A favorite expression used by Clarkson when discussing the French. May be modified to fit the occasion: e.g. during the Val Thorens ice race the other drivers were "cheese-eating sideways monkeys."
Each episode has one or two main films; the longer ones are often interrupted at a tense moment and resumed towards the end of the show. (Since the presenter in the film is usually right there in the studio while the film is being screened, not much tension can build, so this is sometimes played for humor).
Hammond: ...And we'll find out later if I die.
A rare end-of-episode cliffhanger was in the opener of series 16, when the baby in Bethlehem offered gold, frankincense shampoo and myrrh a portable game console wore a white motorcyclist helmet and suit.
James May's logic often drifts during the news segments such as when they do the news, like one occasion when they are talking about the effect of no cows and he says there will be "no eggs". Well, since milkmen bring the eggs...
The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: In the convertible people carrier challenge, both Clarkson and Hammond mock May for claiming that monkeys are the most dangerous animal they could possibly face in a safari park, worse than lions. After experiencing the park in their car with its home-made roof, they agree with him.
[while stuck in road construction in Italy on a road trip to find the world's best driving road] Hammond: We come all the way here in these cars and you [bleep] it up because you're a [bleep] feeble-minded [bleep]. Utter utter [bleep]! [Bleeeep] useless!
During the race across London, when the bicycle-riding Hammond was repeatedly stopped by traffic signals (which he had to obey because he was on camera):
When Hammond's improvised boat got stuck in Vietnam, his reaction was indecipherable, as every individual word was censored.
Hammond unleashing this becomes a Running Gag during the Cars-into-Train challenge as May keeps using the tannoy to talk to the passengers, which was meant to be Hammond's job.
May: Ladies and gentleman, if you'd like to stretch your legs, at this intermediate station, apologies for the overshoot. * Hammond goes outside and the door has barely closed.* Hammond: [shouting] Stop doing the BLEEP announcements! That's my job!
During his record-breaking lap, Clarkson teased Jay Kay with "One... forty... six point two... was your second fastest lap" (the record was 1:45.9 at the time), leading the Jamiroquai singer to let off a barrage of curses at Clarkson.
May also got in a rather impressive set after accidentally banging the front end of his borrowed McClaren during a race through Rome:
Comedic Sociopathy: Constantly, bordering on With Friends Like These.... One challenge had the three presenters try to get a lorry moving from a hill start without rolling backwards. In order to "motivate" them, each of them had a prized possession placed directly behind the vehicle. When it was Clarkson's turn, his drum kit was placed behind the lorry, but he managed to get it moving without rolling, so the drum kit escaped unharmed. That is, until Hammond and May walked over and smashed it up, claiming, "You were so close!" when Clarkson returned. Clarkson immediately knew what had happened, and was not pleased.
After teasing from both Hammond and May over Clarkson's interview with Will Young, where they imply that Clarkson's in love, Jeremy asks "are you suggesting Will Young is gay?"
Jeremy makes a mechanized rocking chair using a V8 engine: the engine "rocks" the chair so violently that both the chair and the mannequin in it fall apart. Jeremy decides that this invention would never work - because the engine is so loud that you would never be able to hear your television.
During a rally, May's co-driver Madison Welch complains that all of the signs are foreign.
Clarkson ["reading" from the car's manual, trying to figure out why the fuel filler cap won't open]: Consola centrale con interatore aperture sportello rifornimento. We are useless Italians and we haven't built this properly.
Clarkson ["reading" a Norwegian newspaper reporting on their filming] A man who looked like a dog crashed into one of my trees.
The Complainer Is Always Wrong: While in Botswana, Hammond disagrees with Clarkson and May's choice of where to ford a river. When he tries to cross it somewhere else, his car ends up flooded up to the dashboard and he has to spend most of the night fixing it. Clarkson and May on the other hand, don't face such problems.
Compliment Backfire: When May claims that his Clio is the better car based on its Autocar review.
May: Not my words, not my words. The words of Autocar magazine!
Clarkson: What, you mean the magazine that sacked you?
On more than one occasion. Hammond may or may not have set an official British record for land speed before his accident (the run before the crash was 314 mph, breaking the previous record of 300.3), but the dangerous accident at 288 mph may well have set a record (unofficially) for fastest land crash. After learning the speed record requires making two runs in opposite directions and then averaging the speed, Clarkson joked Hammond would need to go out and crash again.
They also inadvertently set the world indoor speed record with an F1 car. But only after almost first setting it with a Chevrolet Lacetti...
Continuity Nod: Occasionally in dialogue; more often these happen when a vehicle from a previous adventure appears in a subsequent episode, such as James May using the camera crew's "Invincible" from the Polar Special in the first episode of Series 15. The ultimate Continuity Nod is the mangled Toyota Hilux permanently on display in the studio, which looks like a tragic wreck to anyone unfamiliar with the series.
Cool but Stupid: Many of the things Clarkson has built. Past examples have included a V8 powered blender, a flamethrower mounted on a snowplough, and modding a car so much it caught fire.
Cooking Duel: The various races and crap car challenges, though very silly, are still treated seriously by the presenters. They still manage to have fun while doing them, however.
The emergency backup vehicles, which are invariably 1) something hateful to all three presenters, 2) completely inappropriate for the setting, or 3) both.
May [During the Vietnam Special]: If [Hammond] turns up on Bruce Springsteen, I'll feel quite sorry for him... but I'll still laugh.
During the Middle East Special, Jeremy and James were getting tired of Richard's Fiat not having any problems, so they rigged a radio to the ignition, that only played Genesis.note Richard hates Genesis
Several, including the carbon fiber speedboat James used to reach the French Rivera while racing against Richard in a Ferarri Daytona.
In the case of the amphibious vehicle challenges, each also doubles as a...
Cool Car: Numerous vehicles, with the most notable being the Bugatti Veyron SS with nearly 1000bhp and a price tag in the millions, and it used to hold the fastest lap until the Atom V8. The Top Gear presenters honored the Veyron in 2009 by naming it the Car of the Decade. Then there's the Cool Wall of course, where supercars are usually rated "Uncool" — for the obvious reason. The Koenigsegg is the exception because even The Stig crashed it, and anything that tricky must be cool. Also, Oliver.
The LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado, a steam-powered train that was completed in 2008 as a labour of love by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. It raced a car and motorcycle of 1949 vintage in the London-Edinburgh "Race to the North" and finished a close second, with Clarkson in the cab acting as fireman.
The bullet trains in Japan. As May remarked, "What a brilliant looking train!"
Clarkson claims he's not driving a rail-modified Jaguar XJS, its a "Sports-Train".
Cordon Bleugh Chef: In the "homemade motorhomes" challenge, all three presenters. James's starter (fried Spam and Quavers) and Richard's dessert (bread with yoghurt and Maltesers) at least sounded like they might be edible, but Jeremy's main course (boiled flowers and pickled onions fried in Castrol GTX) couldn't even boast that. To be fair though, they were limited to using what they could buy at the local petrol station.
*Cough* Snark *Cough*: In the Botswana special, when Clarkson's Lancia Beta Coupe has broken down. Again.
May: [cough] Beetle!
Could Say It But: In Season 6, Clarkson did this as a way of sneakily previewing a car (an Aston Martin V8 Vantage) he wasn't technically allowed to announce yet. May and Hammond played along with a chorus of "I would have really like to hear that" and "Oh, I wish you could have told us that."
Couldn't Find a Pen: Jeremy declared that the Dodge Viper was a car "so sophisticated, it could write its own name." He then proceeded to write the word "Viper" on the test track, using skidmarks.
Country Matters: In Series 15, Clarkson looked for anagrams in his co-presenters' numberplates. He found "Liar" in Hammond's L48I RAR and "Gosh" in May's (GS99 HOS), but didn't bother to point out the one in his own CTU 131N.
Played for laughs, with the presenters always getting computer terminology wrong ("if you own an internet, why not visit us at Top Gear Dot Internet Dot Website Slash BBC London W12") and some celebrities' names, like mixing Puff Daddy / P Diddy's names to produce "P Diddly".
May is usually good for references to 'GameStation', 'Facetube' and 'YouBook' as a subversive means of Product Placement. He also deliberately mangles some brand names, like Clarkson's "ippod" [iPod]and the "gock-ikle" [Gocycle] electric bike.'
Not even car terminology is spared. "Torques" and "carbon dioxides" replace foot-pounds and grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
They did manage to make their invented term of "Flappy-Paddle Gearbox" for semi-automatic transmission into an Ascended Meme that even some car manufacturers have begun to use.
Crack! Oh My Back!: Clarkson injured his neck quite badly in a Nissan GT-R in Season 11, and a second time when driving through a brick wall in the Lorries challenge in Season 12.
Credits Gag: One of the show's favorite tropes, pretty much always rolled out for the specials:
The Botswana special episode had all the names in the credits as Archbishop Desmond (person's surname).
The Vietnam special had them all listed as Francis Ford (surname).
After an episode which featured a challenge to test reasonably-priced hatchbacks by taking them for a lap of the test track with a large dog in the car — with disqualification resulting if the dog looked sad at the end of the lap — the credits ended with the undisclaimer: "Some animals were harmed in the making of this programme".
The Middle East Christmas Special had everyone listed as [Name] of [Birthplace] ex. James of Bristol, Jeremy of Doncaster, Richard of Solihull, Andrew of Glossop, etc.
Episode 5 of Series 16 had the guys decide their combine harvester/snow plow would be enough to get them knighted; their names promptly appeared in the credits preceded by "Sir".
The India Special had everyone list as (First name) (Indian dish); e.g. "Jeremy Rogan Josh", "Richard Chicken Korma" and "James Murgh Masala".
The Africa Special had everyone listed as "Dr. (surname), I presume?"
Crossing the Desert: The first part of Syria in the Middle East special goes like this. The main obstacles are rocks and rough terrain.
While Clarkson was reviewing a new Ford Fiesta in an attempt to do a "proper" road test, the segments kept ending when he tried to say that an aspect of the car was sh-
Likewise, when James and Jeremy were doing challenges in their own classic luxury cars, Richard's introduction ended just as he was about to call them twa-
During the Top Gear Ground Force Sports Relief special, James was so annoyed at Clarkson at one point that he called Clarkson a fuc-
James singing Christmas carols with his own lyrics in the Middle East special.
To the tune of "We Three Kings." "We three blokes from BBC 2, One color gold car, one color poo, Ohh, brought the wrong car, brought the right, Working heater, working lights, Westward going, gasket may be blowing, What a piece of shi-"
While Hammond and May were road testing a VW Beetle, discussing the merits of driving with the top down:
May: Mind you, if anyone sees us they'll probably think we're a pair of screaming— Hammond: Well, exactly.
When the hosts of Top Gear Australia challenged the boys in Britain, Clarkson read the letter addressed to "You pommie bas-"
During their motoring holiday with the Stig, the flipchart Clarkson was writing on fell over just as he was about to finish writing that the M3 is shi-
Cute Kitten: One episode has Clarkson discussing the finer points of twin turbocharged engines, but before he launches into his explanation, he remarks that some people in the audience tend to find such explanations boring, "so here's some soft little kittens for you to look at." The screen splits halfway between Clarkson and a mound of cuddly little kittens.
The presenters did a two week feature to see how durable the Toyota Hilux pickup truck is* In the U.S., a Tacoma is a rough equivalent to the Hilux. In the first week, Clarkson drove it down a staircase, rammed it into a tree, drove it down to the low water mark of the Bristol Channel's ten meter* thirty foot tides and left it there (it actually broke loose from the moorings that were supposed to hold it on the jetty; they didn't find it until the tide went out — six hours later — half buried in the silt and sand), dropped it from a crane, drove it through a modular building, dropped a caravan on it, swung a wrecking ball at it and — finally — set it on fire. The next week, May set it atop a tower of flats several hundred feet high... which was scheduled for demolition. It went down with the building and had to be pulled off the debris pile. And it still started.
The cast realised the magnitude of the achievement and now display the disfigured Hilux prominently in their studio, on a tilted podium. The Hilux they used was a used one they picked up for 1000 pounds, 13 years old and with 195,000 miles on it. Toyota subsequently released a model called The Invincible. Clarkson and May used two which had been specially modified for Arctic use (one for themselves and one for the camera and support crew) in the Polar Special.
James May then took the Hilux that had been used by the camera crew in the Polar Special, had it further modified, and drove it to the rim of the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. May and the camera crew had left the volcano just hours before it really blew its top, shutting down air traffic over much of the Atlantic and Europe, in April of 2010.
Richard Hammond complained to Jonathan Ross during an interview that he was disappointed he had no cool scars resulting from his near fatal crash.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Often, especially when the presenters or a guest operates a vehicle with an unfamiliar layout.
The Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle stymied Hammond at first because the brake was where he expected the gear lever to be.
James kept putting a Mercedes 190 he'd brought for a "cheap car" challenge in reverse because first and reverse were backwards compared to every other car he'd ever driven. More accurately, on such a gearbox with a dog-leg first gear, reverse is where first normally is, first is where second normally is, third where second normally is, and so on. Ironically, he'd complimented this feature initially, but after backing into someone yet again:
May: "Look, I've had thirty years of it being left and forwards."
Americans who participate in the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car, often.
During a review of several mini hatchbacks, the trope effectively became the basis for testing the user friendliness of those cars by having the presenters' mothers try to operate them without assistance.
James May is quite good at putting his co-presenters down or discussing their idiocy while remaining calm and straight-faced.
Clarkson is also very good at deadpanning ridiculous statements when he wants to be. Notice how it's almost always him who reads out the Stig Facts, and when Hammond does it he can't quite keep a straight face.
Deep South: Which they drove through with slogans on their cars like "country and western is rubbish", "NASCAR sucks", "Hillary for President" and "MAN-LOVE RULES OK", with predictable consequences. They also added a Y to the front of Richard's truck so that it said "Dodgey." Apparently "Hillary for President" and even "Man-Love Rules OK" would have probably elicited nothing more extreme than horns and rude comments, but you don't slag C&W or NASCAR.
Defcon Five: Clarkson, like so many others, got the Defcon levels wrong when he said that stepping up his Bugatti Veyron (the world's fastest-ever production car) to no-spoiler fast mode took him from Defcon 3 to 4. In another episode, he announced that it was time to go to 'Defcon Stig'.
Delicious Distraction: In the "Polar Special," May succeeded in distracting Clarkson with several gourmet food items and a bottle of Chablis from some secret stash.
James May: "...on a European road trip, beginning in the Italian town of Lucca, which is in Italy".
May (on another occasion): "I went to the United States." (beat) "Which is in America."
Even Clarkson seems to have caught on with this:
Jeremy Clarkson: "...Richard Hammond has his Sunday lunch, every Sunday"
Description Cut: Tends to follow statements like "X and I were doing our best to help Y" [cut to shot of Y working furiously while the other two ignore him, make fun of his predicament, or just drive off without him].
Done very amusingly in the segment featuring the race across London during the middle of rush hour. Not quite the same, as it's not referring to a specific person, but entertaining anyway
Jeremy Clarkson [in a boat on the Thames, leisurely cruising]: This has to be the most stress free and relaxing Monday morning rush-hour commute since the dawn of time. [Cut to the helmet camera of...] Richard Hammond [on a pedal bike, dodging traffic, lots of noise]: Oh no, not another set of sodding lights... Ah, bloody hell!
The Jaguar XJ6 that went from Basel to Blackpool on one tank of diesel despite Jeremy doing everything he could to waste fuel. Did we mention Basel is in Switzerland?
Also the Audi A8 that drove from London to Edinburgh and back again on a single tank. At one point Clarkson noted that the Germans had actually "made a car that runs on air".
And the modified BMW used in the Britcar 24-hour race. After suffering numerous setbacks, and with less than an hour to go, Clarkson claimed the car wanted to finish and he was just "willing it on"
The second hand four-wheel drive cars they bought for the Bolivia special, which, against all expectations, made it to the Chile coast from the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The lone exception was Hammond's Land Cruiser, which took a fall down a steep sand dune a few miles from the coast because the brakes were left off. Richard lampshades the trope on the final stretch.
The Stig himself; barring mechanical problems, he will get the car across the line. This once included recovering from not one but two spins on a Lancia kit car.
Did You Die?: Hammond gets subjected to this frighteningly often, usually after one of his stunts.
Diesel Punk: The Brutus and Petersen Meteor Bentley featured in series 18, a pair of early 20th century-style cars (albeit made recently) with massive engines: the Brutus has a Heinkel He-111 bomber engine, while the Bentley has a World War II tank engine. Both look like they came out of a pulp action series, with the Brutus especially being extremely noisy and downright violent with its external engine.
Directionless Driver: According to his co-hosts, without a sat-nav (and sometimes even with), this is a very accurate description of James May.
Disguised in Drag: The three presenters disguise themselves by wearing Syrian-style burqas so as not to alert the Israeli authorities that they had been driving through Syria before they had entered Jordan. As usual, it was Ambitious but Rubbish, as they found when they arrived in Damascus.
May: [Sees 'Welcome Top Gear' sign on hotel] I've appeared on television, in drag, for nothing!
In the Polar Special, this was played dead straight when the three of them started feeling the effects of the cold, exhaustion, and isolation. They began threatening each other with physical harm for tiny infractions, and Clarkson destroyed May's can of "victory Spam" with a shotgun for no apparent reason.
May waving his machete in Clarkson's face in the South American adventure. The "disproportionate" of this varies if you believe Jeremy's claim it was an accident, or if you're as tired of the "oh dear, I've run into the back of May's car" Running Gag as May is. And especially when he openly warned his co-presenters not to pull it on him while driving on a winding cliff road with no safety rail. Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.
Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: While "demonstrating" some Porsche-branded pipes, it's played straight by James May. And then it's completely averted ten seconds later when Jeremy burns his tongue after putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth.
Used for comedic effect in one episode, where the cameraman is Distracted by the Sexy, and the camera drifts over to film some beach volleyball players instead of James May and the Honda FCX Clarity he is reviewing.
In one News section in Series 14 Clarkson commented that attractive women clad for summer are the worst driving hazard he can think of, to which the other two agreed. Clarkson and company were piloried in the newspapers, of course, but within the same week stories and polls emerged to back up Clarkson's thesis.
In season 17 episode 2, when they had to do the Monaco GP track on hot hatches, the three presenters went to get pointers from F1 drivers. Clarkson did his homework, but the other two went to a party and spent the whole time chatting with hot girls.
May: [holds up a sword with pork chops on it]This pork sword — Clarkson: James, don't do the pork sword. [holds up a stuffed rooster with an Audi logo attached] This cock- Hammond: Has it got four rings on it? Clarkson: Yes it has!
And then promptly lampshaded.
Clarkson: Put this cock in your wizard's sleeve!... *Turns to the audience* It's all gone horribly wrong.
Doing It for the Art: For all the flack the show gets about being bawdy and offensive, deep down you know that the trio really love cars (especially Clarkson; see the last scene of Series 13) and it's really just sixty minutes of gushing about them with gorgeous imagery.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Occasionally played with when, for instance, the guys solemnly (and with perfect insincerity) state that they strictly obey the speed limit at all times, or state "this is something we mustn't do" before engaging in impromptu drag races on public streets.
Don't Try This at Home: Conspicuous by its absence. Although they did have a strongly worded warning against insurance fraud in the perfect-car-for-a-17-year-old-boy challenge.
Doom It Yourself: Any project that involves severely modifying a car... or, for Clarkson, any project that involves slightly modifying a car. Fortunately failure is just as entertaining as success, sometimes more so.
[while doing the brakes in a Caterham 7 kit-car challenge] Clarkson: The nipple is off.. the tube is in the hole... I will be needing some pump. May: You should feel it go stiff now. Clarkson: Pump, man, pump. Braking happening? Hammond: Oh yeah, that's much better... yeah, that's hard.
Several of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car guests have had to go around the track in an automatic because they can't work out what a clutch pedal is for. You wonder why they'd go on a show about driving really. The occasional American or German has gotten lost in the gear pattern — which is the same on right hand drive as left hand, but "backwards" as far as muscle memory is concerned.
When Christopher Eccleston appeared in the segment, they had to find an automatic Suzuki Liana because he'd only had his license for 14 months and was not authorized to drive a stick shift. Only forty such cars exist in England, so they had to borrow it from some civilian. After they showed Eccleston's practice laps:
Clarkson: And if that's your car...Tough!
Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the first couple of seasons, The Stig was black-suited and played by a different person. After said person (ex-F1 driver Perry Mc Carthy) went public about his identity, which is the one thing The Stig is not supposed to do, "Black Stig" was promptly killed off at the start of the next series by driving off an aircraft carrier.
Discussed by the presenters after the first "White Stig" (racing driver Ben Collins) did the same thing.
Jeremy: I just thought it would be nice to come back into the country the way their ancestors left. (cue a jail bus)
Dueling Shows: With Fifth Gear, which is much less popular than Top Gear (and is based on the original, more straightforward-review format) but is often name-dropped because its presenters include several of Clarkson's old colleagues and rivals from the original Top Gear. Disasters such as the Cool Wall burning down are often ascribed to Fifth Gear's nefarious schemes.
Dynamic Entry: In episode 1 of series 17 Hammond takes a shortcut through Johannesburg in the Marauder by driving it through a wall.
The show and presenters, especially Clarkson, are infamous in some circles for hating on Americans and American cars — see Deep South above. Clarkson especially views Americans strictly through Flavor # 2 glasses, which has provoked negative responses from viewers, and not just Americans. At the same time, all three of the presenters have favorably reviewed American cars. Two of Jeremy's favorite cars are the Dodge Viper and the Ford GT. May likes Cadillacs for their style and comfort; famously, one Cadillac that failed to impress him with bells and whistles won him over completely with superior handling. And Hammond owns a Ford Mustang and a Dodge Charger and will like just about any traditional American muscle car (he chose the new Dodge Challenger during the American Supercar Challenge precisely because of this).
Even with all the America bashing, the show is a huge hit in the US. In fact, it could be argued that it's among the reasons it's popular. A very cringe-worthy moment was when the Jaguar designer said they wouldn't be able to make them as sleek anymore if Americans got their way, because so many Americans couldn't be bothered to wear seat-belts that the US government wanted the roofs higher to protect unbelted drivers.
At times, it does seem as if Clarkson in particular has some sort of passionate love-hate relationship with American culture. He'll spend one moment snooting down his nose at Americans, and then the next moment, he'll giddily ramble on about all the great features of the latest American sports car.
In the Vietnam special, the punishment for having your motorbike break down was to have to use a bike painted in the colours of the US flag, playing "Born in the USA". Remember what happened over 30 years ago.
Clarkson: Children, if you are watching this at home... and you don't know why this is inappropriate... ask your parents.
In the same episode, he mentions, upon entering Hanoi, that he is, "Doing what no American has ever done before - entering North Vietnam."
May: You've got a Stetson, you've got Cowboy boots, you've got Chaps, you've got a Harley Davidson, you've got a Mustang, you'd like to get a Beer, and you put Cheese on everything!
Eat the Evidence: Richard Hammond has eaten things to keep Jeremy Clarkson from getting his hands on them, including a cardboard picture of a car (intended for the Cool Wall) and a piece of paper with the points for that week's challenge (which showed Clarkon had somehow racked up an improbably huge score on the final test). His nickname of "Hamster" is quite appropriate.
Eat That: On the American South special, the presenters were told that dinner would be whatever they could find on the side of the road. Clarkson somehow found and retrieved an entire dead cow. May promptly announced he had become a vegetarian.
Rather clumsily, to make room for ad breaks, on Dave (a UK channel that shows reruns of many BBC programs) — ironic, as sitcoms and panel games are generally unedited, taking up an awkward 40-minute place in the schedules. UKTV, Dave's parent company, often also comes under criticism for editing documentaries on their other channels.
Also edited for ad breaks on BBC America. The News and Cool Wall segments are generally cut, presumably because they're relatively short and involve topics with which American audiences are likely unfamiliar (and, in the case of the News segment, possibly because the topics discussed are no longer "news" by the time the episodes appear across the pond). However, they keep Star in a Reasonably Priced Car... which is relatively short and involve topics with which American audiences are likely unfamiliar. As an example: episode 13x02 edited out the news, including a part about a car sounding like it was having a "crisis", which made future references to having a "crisis" look like an inside joke. Also, a line from Clarkson about "separating the men from the Grindrs" loses its humor since the part where Stephen Fry shows Clarkson the Grindr app was edited out.
Subverted in 2010 where the episodes are shown in full in special 90-minute slots* They still have to show 20+ minutes of commercials. on their first airing (and a handful after that), possibly since it had more stars recognizable to Americans. BBC America tried this after success with similar time-slots for Doctor Who.
Dave and BBC America also occasionally makes additional edits, such as beeping out swears that weren't beeped in the original BBC version. The most egregious example being during the £25,000 classic car challenge, when James's "Cock!" upon seeing Jeremy's time in the slalom is bleeped.
Due to rights issues, some of the music is also changed after the BBC airings, which can completely kill a moment in some cases. In at least one case they edited the music on the iTunes distribution of an episode: in the Vietnam Special every shot of the "alternate transportation" (a gleaming motorcycle sporting US flags and painted in a red, white, and blue US flag motif) was accompanied by Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" as background music. In the iTunes release, the BGM is changed to "The Star Spangled Banner". This can cause some problems if there's a running joke in an episode.
In general, the presenters are seldom satisfied with ordinary, garden-variety failure, especially with Clarkson around.
When May loses a challenge, he can lose spectacularly. For instance, in the race across London he came last by over half an hour, coming behind even The Stig who was using London's notoriously congested and delay-prone public transport services, and in the white van test Clarkson and Hammond got scores of 10.5 and 21 respectively, whereas May got -3,999,993* because one of the challenges was to tailgate a car as closely as possible without touching, and May's van was so slow he was unable to get within 5 meters. Hammond beat him and he actually flipped his van during the police chase test.
The homemade convertible: it exceeded 100 MPH and survived lion filled safaris. The final test was to make sure it can survive a car wash. How does it do? It falls apart, they are forced out of the wash, and then the washing machinery goes up in flames. The convertible itself survived until the tractor challenge; see Watch the Paint Job below.
Their attempt to make amphibious cars. Clarkson actually managed to ruin a Toyota Hilux.
Clarkson:"None of them were seaworthy. Mine was still on fire."
A lot of things that Clarkson attempts end up on fire. Even the brakes on an antique car that he owns go up in flames.
The first iteration of their eletric car could only go ten miles an hour.
Clarkson: "We are being overtaken by children!'"
In the trucker challenge, all three announcers were told to bring their assigned cargo (a cake for May, a car for Hammond, and a bale of straw with a heater for Clarkson) from point A to point B. The results were thus: May's giant cake had toppled over, Hammond's car was missing, and Clarkson's truck was engulfed in flames.
This has gotten to the point of having "Top Fail" specials, two very prominent examples featuring the Reliant Robin. First, there was Clarkson's attempt to drive a Robin 14 miles, but ended up flipping over quite a few times, twice in the background of an outdoors BBC News report (and crashing in the river ultimately), and an attempt to make a Reliant space shuttle that was obliterated upon crashing. (The main fault was during an RC landing procedure, the grips between the car and the main booster pod caught fire and ultimately unable to land safely).
In the Police car challenge, each of them equipped their cars with weapons to stop the Stig from getting away. James used a paint ball guns to block the Stig's view through his windshield, which the Stig reacting to by turning on the window wipers. Richard put a mat with nails in it infront of where the Stig was driving, which the Stig just drove around. Jeremy had Spiked Wheels, which broke off of a wheel. Namely, one of Jeremy's.
Michael Schumacher's lap in the Suzuki Liana. He stalled off the line then started grinding gears after starting it again, went off course at Chicago and crashed into a camera tripod (and almost killed a cameraman), which smashed the windscreen, went incredibly slow on the Follow Through, then drove the wrong way around the tires and got lost before he could reach Gambon.
The economy race from Basel to the Blackpool Illuminations took 17 hours.
The Race Across Japan (Jezza at the wheel of the Nissan GT-R vs Richard and James on Japanese public transportation including the 200 mph Bullet Train) easily counts, especially as it was one of the closest finishes ever for a Top GearEpic Race.
The race from Heathrow to Oslo was also quite a punishingly long run.
Escalating War: Most road trips devolve into two of the presenters pranking the other one. For example, after destroying James' air conditioner in India, he turns the heater to full and rips the knob off in Clarkson's car, and permanently fixes Hammond's seat too far forward. Things keep going from there.
The Nile River special includes a running gag where repairs are made to each presenters car... by using bits from the other presenters' cars. To wit: James uses metal from Jeremy's passenger door to replace his broken skid plate; Jeremy retaliates by patching the hole with metal from James' hood; James fixes that hole with Richard's hood; Richard fixes that hole with Jeremy's other door; and finally, Jeremy discovers that Richard's rear window can replace his own after it was broken.
Lamborghini Gallardo - an unidentified fault with the engine caused several to erupt into flames, prompting James to remark:
May: I'd like a Lamborghini. Can I have one that's not on fire?
Ferrari 458 Italia - an issue with the adhesives used to bond part of the rear caused a few to burst into flames. During the filming of the 2010 Christmas Special in the US where James was driving a 458, Richard and Jeremy both appeared to James wearing T-shirts showing pictures of the car burning.
Replace the word "car" with the word "caravan" and you're close. The team will not rest until every caravan on Earth is destroyed violently.
Clarkson: [Series 4, episode 4] You know, that's the nineteenth caravan we've destroyed on this program in twelve months!
Every Episode Ending: Most episodes end with Jeremy Clarkson saying "...and on that bombshell, it's time to end..." or variants thereof with few exceptions. Such as when Clarkson was caught and devoured by a pack of hunting dogs.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Subverted during the convertible people carrier challenge. Jeremy and Richard actually taunt James over his concern over the park's primates, only to freak out themselves when monkeys start jumping and climbing on their van's homemade roof. Apparently, it wasn't too much of a concern at first as the car's roof was quite evidently covered in diced fruit to attract the monkeys.
James May: In the Okavango, you will encounter many deadly animals including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, hippos, black rhino and crocodile, *Beat* bird snakes, shield-nose snakes, puff adders, boomslang, king cobras, banded cobras, black mambas, black widows, and thick-tailed scorpions.
Jeremy Clarkson: What about the honey badger?note The honey badger is more of a Fluffy the Terrible. They're so vicious that most big cats prefer not to antagonise them. Cheetah cubs' coats mimic those of honey badgers as a form of protective mimicry.
Clarkson is all to happy to try whatever native dish is on hand on their overseas trips, and has mentioned on other shows, such as QI, other exotic dishes he's eaten.
May was the first to bravely try Clarkson's "manly V8 smoothie" (composed of raw beef with bones, Bovril, tabasco sauce, chilis, and "for added bite" a brick), blended in a blender powered by a Corvette's V8 engine. The nonchalance abruptly ended when the full effect of the taste hit:
May: I've got the name for it: the Bloody Awful.
Taking other shows he's been on into consideration, it's a wonder James hasn't been poisoned yet. See the Character page for the full list.
You know Madison Welch wasn't invited to be on the show because of her extensive knowledge of cars.
Subverted with Jodie Kidd: no-one really expected anything out of her other than some eye candy, but she actually topped the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" rankings when she appeared on the show, and held that title until the following season.
Flanderization: Even producer Andy Wilman has acknowledged that the presenters have been narrowed down to one or two basic personality traits. ("Jeremy is walk through a door rather than open it, Richard's massively accident prone and cheeky chappie, and James is a pedantic nerd.")
Fleece The Budget: One episode has the hosts informing the audience that, due to a strained budget, their videos would have to be much simpler than usual. Cue Hammond dressing up his review with all sorts of fancy graphics and effects (topped off with a CGI spaceship chasing the car, no less) and Clarkson taking needless trips around the world for increasingly arbitrary reasons, like to test if the glove compartment still opens.
Fluffy the Terrible: During the challenge where they use ex-military equipment to knock down condemned houses, Clarkson treats his minesweeper like a dog.
Clarkson: *Narrating* Happily I'd finally managed to housetrain my digger!
Clarkson: *Walking along side his machine with the remote* Walkies! Yes... good digger!
Flying Saucer: In 14.07, during Hammond's review of the Lexus RX 450h. One wonders if Andy Wilman spends time on this site looking for ideas...
Food and Animal Attraction: In the Africa Special, Hammond and Clarkson try to invoke this trope deliberately against May by planting huge chunks of beef inside the bodywork and engine compartments of May's car as they approached a game reserve, hoping to attract lions to him. It doesn't work.
Foreign Queasine: Hammond was mysteriously "not hungry" for most of the Vietnam special
May: [looking at the menu] Um, well I think this thing here is a sort of squid thing with some... weird paste. Hammond: [unhappily] Don't like squid. May: Okay, well you can have crab, with... Hammond: Don't like crab. May: Razor clams. Hammond: Don't like clams.
In the end he eats a bowl of rice... krispies.
Hammond also revealed that he doesn't eat fish in the Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train race in Japan, and it was likewise lampshaded by Clarkson when the camera cut to him.
Clarkson (showing off his back of snacks): That is just a fish... lightly killed, and then put in a bag. The marvellous thing is that Richard Hammond won't be able to enjoy any of this. Because he won't eat anything unless it's come from a burger van on the A38. (Mimics) "I don't like cheese it's full of bacteria, and I don't like fish." Hammond: May, it's all fish! I... May: Yeah. It's good for you. Hammond: I don't like fish! May: Well you've come to the wrong country.
And after hoping for lamb chops in a Damascus restaurant, he instead gets lamb brain, head, stomach, and testicles.
Jeremy Clarkson: Choler. The leader who dares dream anything is possible, but is usually brought down by his arrogance.
Richard Hammond: Sanguine. Outgoing, daring, and always up for fun over control, but also the most easily upset.
James May: Melancholy. Organized and the best at fixing things mechanically, but also pedantic and occasionally bogged down in details.
The Stig: So phlegmatic he never speaks, startles or betrays emotion.
Free Wheel: Several times, for example when Clarkson's tries to use his Spiked Wheels in the "alternative police car" challenge.
Freudian Trio: Hammond is the Id, for his emotional moments such as with Oliver and war veterans as well as a reckless sense of adventure; Clarkson is the Ego, for being both intelligent enough to make a truck cross the Channel yet not understand how a car works; and May is the Superego, who relies entirely on intelligence to the point of boring.
On a frightening mountain pass at night with no headlights and nothing visible except the back of Hammond's Toyota:
May : Hammond, I want to say something to you that I wouldn't say at any other time. Hammond: What? May: Please don't leave me. Hammond: Oh God, those words are going to stay with me for a bit, I'll struggle to get over that. [more sincerely] No, I won't.
Probably the most important one happened off camera: Clarkson and May were among the first to get to the hospital after Hammond's accident. Clarkson also sent amusing text messages to Hammond's wife every day for five weeks after the accident to keep her spirits up while her husband was in the hospital.
From Bad to Worse: Frequently in the cheap car challenges. They start out as hopeless bangers, so there's nowhere to go but down. Also often found in challenges where the presenters have to create something, like their own limousines, motorhomes, or a combination combine harvester/snowplow.
Clarkson: So far then, we'd crashed a plane, ruined a car, burned a sign and smashed a house. And then, things got worse...
Fruit Cart: Close — a flower cart, as part of an obstacle course in the car-for-a-17-year-old challenge. The presenters lost points for not hitting it.
Clarkson once got himself into trouble (again) after wearing a t-shirt with "the worst word in the world" on it to a rehearsal, forgetting he had it on, and then taking promotional photos with some rather important representatives of a Japanese games manufacturer.
In the tractors challenge, Hammond attempts to herd sheep with the "assistance" of Top Gear Dog, while Clarkson and May have a conversation in the foreground
At one point in the "car for a 17-year-old" challenge, The Stig can be seen putting his head into a photocopier.
Such is their skill that they can even invoke this trope on otherBBC shows. For those who cannot see thanks to YouTube, the events mentioned include Jeremy driving the Peel P50 through the BBC studio and eventually through the background of the live BBC News 24 Broadcast. The other event is when the Top Gear team received Toy Remote Control Cars which they discovered stuck to windows very well and could be driven up them...if you were watching "The One Show" on a certain night, you may have noticed strange objects going up the windows from the outside...
There is a picture of Will Young on Jeremy's desk as they phone shop for car insurance for their fictional 17-year old children. There is a picture of the Queen on James's desk, and Richard has some teeth whitener on his desk.
The Season 14 finale had a moment where James' introduction to the next segment was interrupted by Hammond crashing an electric-powered skateboard into part of the set behind him.
While exploring how poorly the Renault Avantime handled corners, Richard is seen sliding across the backseat with a barely audible yelp of surprise.
Jeremy happily eating an ice-cream on a beach in the foreground, while his block-of-flats Citroen goes tumbling down a cliff behind him.
From earlier in the same episode (Series 15 Episode 4): Jeremy cooking dinner in the foreground and explaining how carefully he is monitoring the food because the last time he tried to cook in a caravan he set it on fire, while, after a cut to a different view allows you to see out the window behind him, you can see Richard frantically fighting an enormous fire caused by his own reckless cooking.
Jeremy skidding and flipping over on his side in the background of a BBC News segment in Series 15. Twice.
After Clarkson and May have a race around the rack with their BMWs in the 2000-quid-or-less-convertible challenge, you can hear Hammond's car alarm still going off while the other two talk about their cars.
In the Albania episode of series 16, Jeremy ends up rolling backwards while the "Bentley" (actually a Yugo since Bentley pulled their car from the episode at the last minute) scrapes against a wall. As Hammond and May discuss Clarkson's idiocy, you can hear Clarkson in the background screaming about how the door mirror's been ripped off.
Fun with Acronyms: In the "50 Years of James Bond" special, the Top Gear Invisible Car/Van works via the Particularly Enigmatic New Invisibility System.
In the episode where the lads make their own electric car with a noisy diesel generator to charge the batteries.
Hammond: [shouting over the noise] Well that's brilliant! It's a hybrid. We've built a Prius! [This is an appalling racket. We are useless at everything.] Clarkson: You don't think the producers are messing with the subtitles, do you? [I am a big fat bald idiot.] Hammond: No, they wouldn't do that. [And I'm a short arse.]
Gay Bravado: The presenters alternate jabs at the others' heterosexuality and get squicked by each others' insinuations. Amusingly, their interviews and appearances elsewhere carry it on. On Have I Got News for You, James's first reaction to the host mentioning that Jeremy had been in the news lately was, "Has he come out?"
During his stint as a Scooterman, May is so impressed by his fare's knowledge about her car that he asks her to hold his helmet and gets her phone number so he can ask for help if he has trouble with a road test. Later, in the studio:
Clarkson: That Audi woman you had, she was amazing! May: Yeah, I, uh, found her strangely attractive. Clarkson: Nothing strange about the attraction there, she was great!
Jools Holland (during his interview as Star In A Resonably Priced Car) gushed to Clarkson about May's 'great mind'.
In the introduction to the review of the Lamborghini Reventon (the 'v' in "reventon" is pronounced almost like a 'b'), Clarkson mocks Hammond by repeating his words, substituting 'b' for 'v' until the Hamster nearly bites him. Clarkson concludes, "But with this, you would get a lot of 'badge'." After a confused blink Hammond gets it — the expression on his face has to be seen to be believed. It helps that "a lot of badge" is a frequently used expression in car circles (in terms of marque snobbery).
When taking part in an ice race in France and noting that all the other their cars are far more powerful, Clarkson told Olivier Panis, an F1 driver, that having their rear-drive sports cars (Porsche 944 for Clarkson and twin-turbo 300zx for Hammond) in a field otherwise consisting of (seemingly) entry-level hatchbacks was like "bringing longbows to a bow-and-arrow fight". With Panis out of the way, Clarkson comments:
A recurring gag is fake sponsorship names on racing cars the Top Gear team drive.
You think they'd arrange it so that opening the door wouldn't turn "Larsen's Biscuits" into "LARSEN'S BISCUITS". You'd be wrong...
On the other side, it had PENISTON OILS.
In the Ice Racing Episode, all three got in on the act, with AMERDEA DU FROMAGE on Hammond's car, C'ESTLES BIEN CHAT! and SOPHARTEL INDUSTRIE on Clarkson's car, and RESTAURANT PETIT ENTREE and COQ JOLI yaourt auxfruits on May's car.
The India Special has their British advertising banners ruined by the train seperating;
BRITISH IT FOR YOUR COMPANY
EAT ENGLISH MUFFINS
Clarkson observes anagrams in his fellow presenters' license plates that aptly describes them. His own plates: CTU 131N
Hammond losing his (wedding) ring to "The Dominator" in the Snowbine Harvester challenge.
Clarkson: That'll be a tricky one to explain...
The Vietnam Special has James complain that the rain is ruining his Vietnamese money.
Matt: ...and I saw, I saw, like, in the film, sorta see her eyes. I come, and...
Clarkson: You what?
After critics complained of their usage of the word 'pikey', they made subtle references of the word. James even drops this gem:
James: You really are a steak and kidney lock opener, aren't you?
During the British sports car challenge Clarkson notes that Hammond's license plate is an anagram of "Liar" and May's is an anagram of "Gosh". Clarkson's license plate reads CTU 131N.
The "Top Gear Penistone Engineering Workshop" becomes "TOP PENIS ENGINE WORK" due to an unfortunate split in the sign; they went all the way to the unfortunately named town of Penistone just so they could do that joke.
Ghost Town: In series 20 episode 3 they visit recession-ravaged Spain and describe it as being a ghost country, finding completely empty airports, towns and even suburbs of the capital.
Jeremy in the Vietnam special: "Still, at least I'd been assured it wouldn't rain."
Also in the Bolivia special, when attempting to pull James' stuck little Suzuki free with Jeremy's lumbering 3.5 liter Land Rover.
May: Please be gentle with this, Jeremy, and not a yob. Clarkson: POWEEER!
Glasses Pull: Hammond does this during the first American Road Trip special, upon seeing New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina.
Glory Days: Clarkson's lament at seeing the old, long-abandoned Jensen factory, noting that during the 1970's, over 27% of the British workforce were involved in the manufacturing industry. Today, its barely 9%.
Clarkson: It's not that we don't make sports-cars anymore... we don't make anything!
May: We got 20p for every yard you covered — you did 1,500 yards, so... Hammond: Uh.. Clarkson: That's, um... May: It's £300, you half-wit.
During the news segment in Series 12, Episode 06, May claimed to have calculated the total number of engine revs that his 25 year old Porsche had sustained in its lifetime* 8.4 x 108 — or 840 million — at the time of the filming, which prompted this reaction:
Hammond: Wow! So you must actually have done everything there is to do in the whole world, to get to the bottom of the list of everything a human being can do. What's it like on the top of Everest? Is it good? May: It's alright. Clarkson: Richard, I went to a dinner party the other day, and I sat next to a girl who said she couldn't believe that James May was still single. Hammond: There's your answer... Theerrreee's your answer!
Hammond accidentally kicks one of the dancing girls in the crotch towards the end of "The Interceptors" segment in Season 17.
May ends up recieving a Stealth Hi/Bye karate-kick from the Chinese "Attack" Stig in Series 18.
Clarkson: Ha! In the plums!
Hachimaki: Clarkson wears one* Upside-down, of course near the end of the Japanese segment where he, driving the Nissan GTR, races Hammond and May, who are riding the bullet train.
Hammerspace: Clarkson pulls a hammer out of nowhere in Season Twelve to test the construction of a Lada. If one looks closely at that sequence, one can figure out how Clarkson did it. But on first viewing, it's awesome.
Sound guy Kiff McManus managed to hold his own while steering Jeremy's double-decker car during the Top Gear vs. D Motor competition despite his artificial arm coming off during one of the last laps. He once had a fight with a shark! He lost, which explains why he's missing an arm.
One fan wrote in to say he could have done a much better lap than TV presenter Richard Whiteley (then the slowest on the board). Normally, such letters are simply thrown away, but since the writer was totally black blind they took him up on it, with Clarkson guiding him from the passenger seat. He indeed completed the lap, and faster, and so a lap time marked 'Blind Man' went on the board above Whiteley's.note In truth, he was not merely a random fan but Billy Baxter, who held the land speed record for a blind man on a motorcycle and does various other blind stunts and the like for charities. Also, he was being guided during the timed lap by The Stig, not Clarkson, but we're not allowed to hear that audio.
Episode 6 of Series 17 featured a off road racing team comprised of former British soldiers who had fallen prey to IEDs while fighting in Afghanistan. The lead mechanic had lost both legs almost up to his pelvis due to repeated infections after he was injured, the co driver had lost an arm and both legs, driver was comparatively lucky having suffered "only a flesh wound", namely the loss of his left leg below the knee. They came second in class and plan to compete in the Paris-Dakar rally.
Another trio of veterans appeared in an episode where Top Gear attempted to produce superior off-road mobility scooters. The three were largely limited to said scooters to get around, but happily took on the challenge of ascending a mountain. Despite several nasty spills, the teamwork and combat training of the veterans allowed them to cross rough terrain and muddy roads well ahead of the Top Gear crew. As was, Hammond was the only one of the Top Gear crew to even get there.
Happy Dance: Jay Kay when Jeremy announced his time was the fastest on the board. He even won the 2008 John Sergeant Award, which is awarded to the celebrity who performs the best dance on learning their time in the Star in a Reasonable Priced Car lap. He was also the only celebrity nominated.
James May dozed off on-camera after the epic private plane/Bugatti Veyron race.
Helium Speech: During season 16, the presenters used a tank of helium to test how well the roofs of their old convertibles had held up by placing each of them in their vehicle with an open tank. James and Jeremy's cars held in the gas, resulting in squeaky voices. Richard's heavily-modified vehicle allowed the helium to leak out, much to his disappointment.
Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: While riding the Vincent Black Shadow in the Season 13 "Race to the North," Hammond did most of his narration in the style of a radio drama about a motorcycle hero named "The Black Shadow."
Holiday in Cambodia: Notably averted: in the Vietnam special they acknowledged it would be a disservice to history not to refer to The Vietnam War and its legacy, but at the same time they presented the country as so much more than "that place where a war happened".
Most notably, the caravan holiday segment, which started with an accident and a carsick dog and only went downhill from there. Eventually the trio's caravan was totally destroyed in a grease fire started when Clarkson tried his hand at cooking.
Invoked after they show the opening credits of "The Interceptors", their spoof of 1970's detective shows.
Hammond: Why don't we make that every week?! I want to be a karate specialist!
Clarkson: I want an Interceptor!
May: I want a moustache!
After a segment reviewing the growing Chinese car industry, Clarkson and May predict that it is possible that Britons could be driving Chinese cars in five years. Cut back to the studio, and Clarkson, May and Hammond have been replaced by Chinese counterparts, who claim that the viewers are all doomed and perform Clarkson's usual end-of-show goodbye.
Clarkson: [watching Hammond do a fast lap on an unfamiliar track] It's The Fast and the Furious, this.. the very furious, I should imagine, knowing Hammond. Hammond: Oh, for God's sake! Where's the bloody apex?!
Hypno Fool: Averted. Hypnotist Paul McKenna hypnotized Richard Hammond when he appeared on the show in Series 4 but Hammond under hypnosis was still entirely himself, just bewildered by things he ordinarily has no trouble understanding, like which buttons and dials do what on a car. And how any car can possibly be faster than a Porsche.
When Autocar magazine panned their home-built electric car (the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust), the presenters were visibly disappointed, complained that it would destroy their sales, and opined that people who review cars for a living can't possibly recognize real genius anyway.
Pretty much any time Jeremy Clarkson trashes Americans for being fat, loud, ignorant, boorish, or crass.
[The lads' Renault Avantime has caught fire, forcing them to abandon their tuning efforts] Clarkson: This is something I've wanted to do— I've worked in television twenty years, never had the chance yet, okay, [pause for breath] May: "Back to the studio." Clarkson: Hey, that's my line! That's what I wanted to say! [May starts running and Clarkson gives chase] May! May, you bastard! Hammond: [to the camera] Yeah. What I thought I'd do is put the fire out, and then say— Clarkson: [over Hammond's shoulder] "Back to the studio!"
I Call It Vera: Richard Hammond named his 1963 Opel Kadett "Oliver" during the Botswana Special.
Each presenter has held it at least once, including the Stig. The presenters even have an award for the biggest cock-up of the year: the coveted Golden Cock award.
Perhaps the best example is when Jeremy Clarkson put the lit bowl of a Porsche-branded pipe in his mouth after joking that it was a rear-engined model and thus the "hot bit goes at the back." Unsurprisingly, he burned his tongue.
Clarkson also put Vaseline on the camera lens to make his police car footage look more "flamboyant." As you can imagine, it was not so much "soft-focus" as "impossibly blurry."
And in the "cars as art" episode in Series 14, Clarkson stood behind a Formula One car primed to fire paintballs out of its exhaust, with nothing between himself and its crotch-level exhaust pipe but the piece of canvas. So, Clarkson used the idiot ball to launch idiot balls at his idiot balls...
Idiot Savant: The Stig. Assuming he's actually human, of course.
I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: On the various specials, two presenters are usually quite thrilled about the upcoming challenge while a third is glum. The third presenter usually cheers up before the end, while one of the enthusiastic pair finds the adventure isn't what he expected it to be.
The stick in the mud is usually James May, though in the Vietnam Special it was Clarkson. This opened up a world of comedic possibilities.
I Know Mortal Kombat: In one episode, Jeremy Clarkson drove a racing car (a Honda NSX) around a track (Laguna Seca) he had done thousands of times in Gran Turismo 4 on the PlayStation and found it considerably more difficult in real life. Partly because he couldn't take the same risks when failure would mean time in hospital instead of restarting.
Implied Trope: Double subverted during the Bolivia special. Clarkson declares that he has apparently bought the one 80's-vintage Range Rover in the world that works reliably. Seconds later, they cut to Hammond admitting that he has apparently bought the one unreliable Toyota Land Cruiser in the world.
Incendiary Exponent: Clarkson's a big fan of this trope. In one of the 2010 specials, he described plans for an Olympic opening ceremony in which everything was on fire—including the spectators.
More often than not, Clarkson accidentally sets himself on fire.
In episode five of series 16, Clarkson is in charge of a flamethrower mounted on the back of their "Snowbine harvester"
Hammond: I'm not sure the flamethrower was strictly necessary. Clarkson:: Yes it was, it was brilliant. Hammond: You set a man on fire...
Clarkson: [from across the studio] That is DISGUSTING! Hammond: Oh, dear! I fear Jeremy may be heading this way with an opinion!
I Need a Freaking Drink: The finish line for the race-type challenges is almost always a bar, where the winners rejoice and the losers console themselves.
Informed Ability: Subverted, during agriculturally related tasks, viewers are reminded how Richard's farming background means he's experienced in those types of tasks, and while he does end up doing them much quicker than the other two, typically he's done it far less effectively. Particularly trailer hitching...
Jezza, Hamster, and Captain Slow - names which have been eagerly adopted by the fanbase (see above). Clarkson has also called May 'Slow' and 'Captain Horrid' and has referred to Hammond as 'Teeth' and 'Officer Barbie'.
May has taken to calling Hammond and Clarkson "Pinky" and "Perky", respectively.
As of Series 15, Clarkson refuses to call the new Reasonably-Priced Car (the Kia Cee'd) anything but the "See-apostrophe-dee"
Clarkson says any punctuation in a name out loud. When will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas was the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, he introduced him as "Will Dot I Dot Am".
Dead animals must be "peeled" instead of "skinned".
In early series, Clarkson pronounced 'Star in a rrrrrrrrreasonably priced car' with a sort of trilling, wincing R sound, and 'corrected' the others if they didn't do the same.
In the Albania epsode, they were supposed to review three high-end luxury cars, but Bentley, who were supplying a Mulsanne for the review, backed out just before they were supposed to begin filming. As a backup, they get a Yugo to stand in for the Bentley and, to complete the illusion, refer to it exclusively as a Bentley Mulsanne, and reviewing it as such.
Insufferable Genius: Clarkson. Well — he's a lot smarter than he acts for the show, which can be startling when he appears on other shows.
Insult Backfire: When James Blunt was the Star in the reasonably priced car it transpired that he owns a motorcycle rather than a car to which Clarkson responded "I didn't know you were a homosexual". Blunt's reply... "Yes, most of my songs are about you".
May scolded Clarkson for using a hammer during the Caterham kit-car challenge, saying that it was "the tool of a pikey,". note Pikey is a pejorative slang term for Irish gypsys. Travellers is a "policitially correct" term for gypsy. Top Gear is a term for "not polically correct."
See also the lorry challenge, where Clarkson uses the term too:
Clarkson: I think he's going to be quite cross with us..! [Jeremy and James are pushing Hammond's Opel Kadett to the hill start challenge area] Clarkson/May [together, quietly imitating a despair-stricken Hammond]: Nooo..!! [laughing] Clarkson: Have you seen what he's done to the number plate? [James leans back and peers at the "OLI V3R" number plate] May: Oh, for God's sake..! Clarkson: Personal plates. He is such a pikey!
Clarkson: [narrating] This is the Stevens-Duryea, which has eight clutches... and what kind of dullard would think that that was brilliant? May: [looking into the engine compartment, fascinated] That's brilliant!
Ironic Nickname: May, right before smashing his previous top speed of 253mph in the upgraded Bugatti Veyron Super Sport:
James: Anyway, big-fast-Shelby-American-car-thingy...your gauntlet has now been picked up by the one they call "Der Langsamer"- The Slow One. [leans forward] Captain Slow to you.
Clarkson: Every time I see you, those are the words that pop into my head: stylish and contemporary. May: Thank you. Clarkson: ..after other words like for instance: beige. Stannah Stairlift. The War, can anyone think of anymore? Homosexual. May: I object to the beige.
Jeremy rattles off a list of people someone claims Top Gear has offended.
The Daily Star, in an editorial, has said that we've upset the Scouts and the Catholic Church and they say that we can add those august organisations to other people we've offended including lorry drivers, Scots, Malaysians, Germans, blind people, anti-hunt protestors and smokers. I'm sorry... this sort of gutter-press claptrap gets just so far up my nose! How dare they?! How dare they suggest that we... would be rude to smokers?
Jeremy, after he shows James the curtains in the rear windows of his Mercedes 600 during the Old Car Challenge. James says that curtains are for caravans, to Jeremy's utter horror.
It's the Same, so It Sucks: Clarkson thinks this about the Porsche 911, claiming every new model is exactly the same as the last one. Hammond vehemently disagrees. invoked
I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: A 2012 episode looking back at the history of Saab featured footage from an episode of original-format Top Gear from The Nineties involving Clarkson test-driving an experimental Saab without a steering wheel. Snarky subtitle captions constantly "apologised" for younger Clarkson's hair and clothes.
It's unknown how many of the stunts are scripted or "enhanced" — the caravan lighting on fire in the above-mentioned caravan holiday as an accident, but the attempt to put it out certainly was — but they call attention to the existence of the script themselves sometimes, including the disagreements. May has said that they never fabricate the results of their races or challenges, but they do shoot additional scenes to help tell the story. Specifically, the in-car shots during the races are all real, whilst the sweeping out-car panoramas are done after the fact. It would be impractical otherwise.
One example: the "Blind Man" lap (see Handicapped Badass, above). When the blind viewer did his actual timed lap, he was guided by The Stig in the passenger seat. For the taped version shown on the air, the blind man drove around the test track with Jeremy Clarkson in the passenger seat, and the tape was edited to make it seem that it was Clarkson riding shotgun during the timed lap. Then again, it's only natural one of the other presenters would be spliced in over the Stig's instruction—if they didn't do that, they couldn't show the inside of the car without televising the Stig speaking.
And another example: in the Vietnam special they presented Jeremy Clarkson as inexperienced and relatively incompetent at riding a motorbike, even though in an earlier series (1995's Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld) Clarkson had quite competently ridden motorbikes — in Vietnam! A clip is right here.
Tesla Motors weren't amused when the show pretended that the electric Roadster had run out of charge when it hadn't. The figures quoted for the car's range were correct, but the car wasn't dead when Clarkson pushed it into a garage.
An aversion: Autocar magazine really did "review" the Top Gear made Hammerhead Eagle iThrust, and really did say that its styling was 'unlikely to win fans amongst those of us blessed with the gift of sight'.
One wonders if the TG3 actually wanted scathing criticism to respond to — even if their car had been good, Autocar was unlikely to give it a fair hearing considering Clarkson has repeatedly insulted its judgement over the years and May was even fired from there after an elaborate prank where he made the initial letters of an article spell a rude message. In summation, the car only got a half-star rating from Autocar...which, in a hilarious Stealth Insult / Take That, was still half a star better than a real electric car that the Top Gear presenters kept referring to in their segment, the Reva G-Wiz.
Kinda Busy Here: Averted. No matter what Clarkson's driving or how fast he's going, he always seems to have time to take a call from one of the other two.
Kryptonite Factor: James May can't focus on the task at hand when things, especially his tools, are out of order. Naturally, the other two take advantage of this whenever it might be funny.
Lampshade Hanging: The presenters are aware of and often reference the fact that the average viewer at home could never get a car like the hundred-grand supercars they often review.
The Lancer: Hammond to Clarkson, especially in earlier seasons. May and Clarkson are more of an Odd Couple.
Large Ham: Clarkson. And he's proud of it too - when shown a parody of himself, he actually gave the guest (comedian Harry Enfield, Star In A Reasonably Priced Car for two episodes and the man who performed it) tips on how to better it by pausing as long as possible before delivering the scene-closing line.
Laser-Guided Karma: Hammond and May are always just as helpful to Clarkson as he is to them.
Hammond: [after Clarkson's secondhand Porsche 928 has dropped out of sight] Probably should go back and look for him, that'd be the caring thing to do, but... he wouldn't do it for me!
Clarkson attributes May's (on the road) engine breakdown in the first amphibious car challenge to this, saying James was being punished for cheating (i.e., taking down his mast to go under bridges).
Late to the Punchline: In the 2009 "car for a 17-year-old" challenge, when Hammond is getting an insurance quote for a teenage driver and claims to have had no accidents in the last five years, accompanied by a quick, guilty grimace at the camera. Humorous when you consider his line of work; funnier yet if you have seen the show; utterly brilliant when you remember he was nearly killed in 2006 in the infamous Vampire crash.
Left the Background Music On: In the charity special Top Ground Gear Force the music was provided by a military brass band, whom Jeremy had to stop before continuing his monologue. In a second instance he, May and Hammond were arguing and he went as far as destroying a trombone to achieve silence.
Also, on the Botswana special, the eerie strains of "The Man With The Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West operated as a sort of musical metaphor for failure. (It came up quite a bit when Clarkson's disaster-prone Lancia appeared on screen, or during ominous shots of the Beetle following them).
Let's Get Dangerous: In Season 7, Captain Slow (Ferrari F430) easily outran Hammond (Pagani Zonda) and Clarkson (Ford GT) on a winding mountain road in France, earning their mildly astonished respect. He explained afterwards that while he can indeed drive fast, he usually prefers not to.
May's inability to drive fast has become something of an Informed Flaw: In subsequent seasons he took driving lessons with Formula One legends Sir Jackie Stewart and Mika Häkkinen and acquitted himself well. He also drove the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed (253 mph) on a closed test track in Germany, then broke that speed in series 15 with its upgraded version, the Super Sport.
May: "It's no wonder Michael Schumacher retired, he's slower than me!"
He still does tend to drive significantly slower in normal circumstances and they usually end up waiting for him in group situations, so the nickname still fits, even if it has become the result of habit instead of an ability flaw in more recent seasons. His poor sense of direction certainly doesn't help his arrival times.
The three presenters run away when they realise their convertible people carrier has set the car wash on fire.
Also Clarkson and Hammond in the lorries challenge, when May has failed the hill start test and ruined his own piano. ("Um.. run." "Keep the porn!")
Their reaction after the unsurprising fate of the Morris Marina they'd borrowed from the First Lady of France.
Clarkson: Now, gentlemen, if I might make a suggestion? [beat] Run! [All 3 bolt out of the studio]
Their reaction when they stop for gas in Alabama during the first USA trip after people start noticing what they painted on each others' cars. Completely serious, followed by cell phone footage of the crew frantically scurbbing off the signs.
Lightning Gun: The lightning generator used to test what would happen if a car was struck by lightning ... with Richard Hammond in it.
Literal Metaphor: When testing the all-electric Tesla Roadster's straight-line acceleration:
Clarkson: God almighty! Wave goodbye to the world of dial-up, and say hello to the world of broadband motoring! Twelve-and-a-half thousand RPMs... I cannot believe this! That's biblically quick. This car is electric, literally!
Little "No": Hammond gives a dejected one after learning he's lost the race to the North Pole.
Lock and Load Montage: Parodied in the "race across Japan" challenge when Hammond and May, preparing for a final charge, assemble their weapons with many a click and snap — but it's a pair of folding bicycles. For extra spoof points, they both look faintly ridiculous riding them.
Clarkson: ...and, because we're in international waters, there's no drink-driving laws! And please do not write to us about drinking and driving because I'm not driving, I'm sailing!
Lost In Transmission: In the introductory segment of the Honda Civic Type R review, Clarkson shows off how the boot of the old R could hold an excellent set of speakers. Cut to inside the car, where the chugging baseline drowns out his dialogue, until ...
Clarkson: ...ten pints of Stella and a dollop of chlamydia.
[The three take their convertible people carrier through a car wash] Clarkson: Uh... it's on fire. Hammond: What?! It can't be on fire! [looks] It's on fire. Clarkson: It's on fire. Just run. Just run. [The three run off... and after the film] Clarkson: The thing is, we managed to set fire to something that's basically made of water! Hammond: How did you do that? Did you see the owner of the car wash afterwards? Clarkson: He was... Hammond: Cross. Very cross. May: He was especially cross when I rang him up and asked if we could have our three pounds fifty back.
The Toyota Hilux straddles the line between this and Determinator. Post-crash Hammond is both. Cheat death and come out none the worse for wear, you might be able to join them.
Clarkson's Volvo sedan from the very first Cheap Car Challenge, which despite its age and decrepit state smashed through the brick wall he was asked to drive it into at 30 mph (which actually became 40 due to a broken speedometer) and kept going.
The Stig, who occasionally has riden a car that blew up on screen, got out of it, and walked away with not a scratch. The British Sports Car trip has a notable example.
Surprisingly, James May's caravan airshipnote which was made by attaching a working camper with an engine and burners to the bottom of a small 2-person inflatable blimp. It crashed and deflated several times, both on and off camera, battering itself against trees and the ground, respectively, yet the envelope and caravan were no worse for wear. It probably doesn't hurt that it was inflated with hot air instead of helium, and moves glacially slow, even for a blimp. Come to think of it, the caravan airship might be the only caravan that was sturdy enough to be wrecked by the Top Gear guys and survive, since both the airship and the caravan still exist.
The Magnificent: Clarkson styled James May "the slowest man on earth" on top of his existing "Captain Slow" monkier. May retaliated by bestowing the title "the world's least (sometimes "most") practical man" on Clarkson.
Clarkson often, who refers to the US president as "Obama Barack"
May, who often uses the terms "Myface" "Mybook" "Facetube" and "Playbox".
Man Child: Quantity: three. If there is a immature joke to be made, a prank to be played, or a simple activity to keep them happy (such as "demolish caravans"), the Top Gear presenters will be all over it.
In the Top Ground Gear Force charity special. During the Ground Force-style fast-forwarding bit a blazing man runs into shot and is put out with a fire blanket. It is never really explained. It's the Stig's gay cousin.
Also caused when they attempted to convert a combine harvester into a snowplow, particularly by Jeremy's de-icer attachment: a flamethrower. When they unleash their creation on a village in Norway, one of the disasters they cause is to accidentally set a pedestrian on fire.
Manly Tears: Jeremy Clarkson, of all people, after successfully completing the Britcar 24-hour endurance race.
Hammond admits do this during the North Pole episode due to the psychological effects of the cold combined with severe mental and physical strain.
Mauve Shirt: Steve, the director of the "Top Gear Technology Centre."
McLeaned: The original Stig, as a result of the driver revealing his identity. Black Stig was launched off of an aircraft carrier and never seen again.
The Mean Brit: Clarkson is often seen as this, but he is actually quite affable in most interactions. The only times he tends to get really snarky are when someone is snarky to him.
Medal of Dishonor: The Golden Cock Award, given to the presenter who did the most boneheaded thing during the filming of the show.
In-universe, the Stig, who is completely stoic and unflinching, and to who no other driver on Top Gear can compare.
Michael Gambon had a corner renamed in his honour for nearly rolling a car there, cementing this status when he did it again on his second appearance.note Clarkson: What is it with you and that corner? Gambon: I don't know, I just don't like it.
Clarkson likewise seems to consider Sir Ranulph Fiennes this, and to a slightly lesser extent, Dame Ellen MacArthur.
Some say, that he was born in a manger packed with farm animals, and wrapped in a swaddling white racing suit. To clarify, during the Christmas Special, where the 3 drive across the Middle East to Bethlehem as the "three wise men," the three eventually make it to Bethlehem to present their gifts to the baby Jesus only to discover him as a child wearing white racing overalls.
Clarkson jokes about himself being this during the Middle-East special, as he has the initials "J.C."
Metallicar Syndrome: In the Middle East Special, the hosts had to sneak across Syria. At first, they tried to modify their convertibles to more desert ready conditions. They painted their cars in various colors and added some accessories. When, they realize that it was too dangerous, they dressed up in burkas and drove down the roads. Their cars were still convertibles with crazy paint jobs and stuck out like sore thumbs.
The Polar Special, being the most serious of the films they've made, is full of many serious moments that greatly contrast the usual humorous tone of the show.
A scene with the presenters trying (and hilariously failing) to ski is immediately followed by a scene in which they meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes and see images of his badly frostbitten hand. He also explained that the effect of cold temperatures on people causes them to become tired and irritable. Despite being friends, the cold will make them all begin to hate each other and the hatred does become very real.
At one point, they are also shown a picture of someone who forgot to properly zip up his trousers and ended up with a frostbitten penis! Cue some very nervous laughter as they're clearly trying to figure out if they're amused or horrified?
The three presenters are faced with having to get into arctic water in order to practice survival methods should one of them fall in the ice during the journey. The three of them are all doing their standard "I don't want to do this" joke routine, when their survival instructor pushes Jeremy into the water. Cue Mood Whiplash in the same scene as Clarkson desperately struggles not to succumb to hypothermia.
Pretty much summed up by Hammond, when he appears close to breaking point, and (apparently) quite seriously responds to his guide joking about putting him into one of the sled dog harnesses by stating that he has a shovel and they're the only people around for miles.
A funnier example is during the "supercars do France" road trip, in which Clarkson declares the day to be ended on a perfect high note with a gorgeous sunset and a thrilling cruise along a motorway in stunning cars. One cut later and the three are having a harrowing wriggle through horrific Paris traffic. Clarkson tempts fate again by saying "I hope we don't have to go around the Arc de Triomphe". You can guess what happens next. Made all the better by hilarious soundtrack selection; more or less the equivalent of the Benny Hill theme, but very French.
It happens in many of the overseas specials. In Bolivia the scenes on the Death Road are less "wacky" and more "hold me".
In the Middle East special, after James is knocked back by a tow rope and injures his head on the rocky ground behind him.
A variant occurs in the Vietnam special; rather than being in mortal danger half the episode, they spend a lot of the show simply being impressed by the scenery and the locals. Clarkson points this out at the end.
Clarkson is technically a doctor of engineering, as Brunel University gave him an honourary doctorate for his bringing their namesake to the masses during Great Britons. He occasionally brings this up in an attempt to win arguments.
May received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Lancaster University in 2010, so it's only a matter of time before both he and Clarkson start picking on the comparatively undereducated Hammond.
Richard (intentionally by the show) and James (unintentionally).
Jeremy references Richard's popularity with the ladies (and men, jokingly) several times. He once claimed that he was glad to see girls at the front of the audience for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment - as the star that night was Hugh Grant - since they usually go flirt with Hammond while Clarkson interviews the SIARPC.
During a 60 Minutes interview, Jeremy stated outright (though somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that Richard Hammond was the reason Top Gear had so many female viewers, as "they all want to sleep with him."
Multi Track Drifting: Various racing segments, often stunts done for the sheer hilarity. Racing double-decker cars with the top steering and the bottom accelerating and braking (the Top Gear vs. D Motor challenges), racing MPVs (people carriers), racing camper vans (RVs), racing airport vehicles, and racing buses (including "bendy buses" and double deckers!). And they were all awesome.
The intros often play into this trope. Jeremy Clarkson: "Tonight: I wear some googles! Richard Hammond falls down a small slope! James May says hello to a man!"
"Tonight: A sausage gets burned! A sheep falls over! And our track is all wet!"
"Tonight: Richard Hammond buys a coffee! James May slips on some snow! And we show a picture of Steve McQueen!"
"Tonight: I wear a hat! Richard wears a hat! And James... wears a hat!"
Hammond and May racing against a letter being delivered by Royal Mail. Complete with dramatic shots of mail being unloaded from planes and sorted.
In general some of their challenges and races could make for very mundane footage. These scenes benefit greatly from the editing and the background music. Top Gear is well recognized in the professional film and television industries as having some of the world's best editing and production values.
My Car Hates Me: When the Alabamians started throwing rocks and they had to make a quick getaway, James May's car needed to be jump-started.
My Country, Right or Wrong: The show, especially Clarkson, seems to go out of its way to make sure that the British cars (Leyland excepted, of course), are always the best.
My Friends... and Zoidberg: During the British Leyland specialnote Series 10, Episode 7, Richard explains why British Leyland was considered to be so awful.
Hammond [narrating]: Now, for our younger viewers, we should explain why the Top Gear office thinks the three of us lost our marbles. See, some B.L. cars were quite badly built ... but most weren't built at all.
My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: May attempting to ask directions in Romania with a phrasebook which has been purposefully mistranslated, leaving him saying things like "Let's buy a glass door with full double glazing" and "These boxes are not the same size" to the puzzled locals. Also, while not a mistranslation, the only German phrase May knows sounds like an example — it means "Naturally Hans is wet; he is standing under a waterfall."