Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Top Gear (UK)

Go To

  • Isn't white Stig (or one of the drivers) Schumacher? I rember the Stig taking off his helmet once.
    • The Michael Schumacher appearance was an elaborate joke. White Stig is actually three or four different guys depending on scheduling availability. Ben Collins is/was the main one, though.
    • At the end of that same episode, they showed Michael Schumacher's Epic Fail of a lap. He stalled off the line, grinded gears when he got going, rammed into a camera tripod and almost killed a cameraman, smashing the windscreen in the process, went incredibely slow on the follow through, went the wrong way around the tires and got lost before Gambon.

  • Setting the caravan on fire was obviously a set up, as was the Dacia Sandero getting smashed but were any of these bits for real or not? I can't decide.
    • Cynics might say "all of them were set ups!" but I can believe it's genuine uselessness too.
    • I recall an interview in which they admitted that they intentionally let the caravan burn down, but the initial fire was actually an accident. They just improvised and ran with it instead of trying to put it out.
      • I can imagine that it was intentional — not for the ratings, but to get rid of the caravan. Recall the time they put one on the target of "car darts" just for giggles.
      • What about burning down the adjacent caravan when Hammond tossed a flaming pillow out the window?

  • The 'wrong' train in Vietnam (Really?)
    • Probably real.
    • Sort of staged. You can't get from Hue, where they were, to Ha Long by train without passing through Hanoi.
    • Fake, long before they even set foot on the train, Jeremy comments "If you asked me if I wanted to hop to Hanoi, yes I would". So he knew they would end up there.

  • Hammond's Toyota rolling down the sand dune (Really??)
    • Probably staged.
    • Definitely staged. C'mon, Hammond forgetting to put the brake on? Hammond hopping out and going round the back of his car (to make sure he doesn't accidentally get run over) rather than just shouting across? Unlikely to say the least. But at least it's understandable why he didn't want to risk a tumble (and I don't just mean his high speed crash - that was a very steep dune, and Hammond's car was practically pieces).
      • You conveniently left out the part about him recently suffering a severe bout of altitude sickness. You make some rather poor choices when your brain has suffered lost of oxygen.
      • But both of the others had suffered as well. More likely that it was staged because an off-camera inspection revealed that the Land Cruiser wasn't safe enough to descend in.
      • Definitely staged for safety reasons, by the end Hammond Toyota had very little brakes, the suspension had collapsed, clutch was gone with the transmission probably not far behind, the transfer box was broken but that didn't matter because the rear differential had exploded and they had to turn into a front wheel drive car just to get it that far. It wasn't fit to drive on a normal road, let alone down an extremely steep dune.
      • Watch when Hammond gets out of the car and walks around the back - there's a push to the back of it to get the roll started.

  • May's old Ford Capri breaking down, so he has to drive the Marina (Convenient!)
    • Probably real.
    • Agreed, probably real. The penalty car has always been something lurking in the background, and I doubt the guys would actually want to use if they could help it.

  • Jumping the Renault into the harbour (More likely to be an empty shell?)
    • Definitely staged. Probably didn't have Ross Kemp in the back for that one, either
    • By that I meant was it a real car. Would Renault really let them chuck one of their press cars in a harbour. And would Belfast council be impressed by what technically is a very bad case of littering?
    • The press coverage after the stunt was filmed implied it was a real car rather than a shell.

  • Clarkson's Lancia catching fire (Very funny!)
    • Possibly real. It is Jezza we're talking about here.
      • And it's a Lancia. Love them, but.... yeah.

  • Being unaware of that massive dam in Romania, because it's dark (Possible?)
    • Very probably real.
    • I'm not so sure. They'd probably have a look around to figure out whether they really were in a dead end road, and when they found that dead end was a huge concrete wall, they would have figured something was up. But then again, their reactions in the morning were pretty convincing.
    • My guess is they were aware that there was a wall there, but didn't realize just how high up it went until the morning.
    • As far as I know they didn't sleep in their cars that night. It was all staged. The dam is filmed from up above, therefore they knew it was there, because they set up all the equipment before filming the wake-up scene. Also if you noticed, the accident scene is filmed from a nearby hill while standing still. Same thing as with the dam.

  • May's stereo being glued up (In fact, all the tricks they play on James while he's 'away')
    • An outtake where Clarkson tells May he's holding the remote hostage makes this one seem plausible too.
    • I read an interview with one of the production crew of Top Gear, which touched on the pranks. According to that, the hosts are even meaner to each other with their pranks off the air than they are on the air, and the vast majority are definitely real.
      • The cast are good friends in real life, so pranking is not unexpected. And they make a LOT of money, it's not like it's a major setback.

  • Someone said the Alabama incident was staged, leading me to believe it probably was...but how the hell do you make up something like that?
    "...nevertheless, we all felt that we would cause, at worst, a ripple of offence no deeper than that which might be generated among the residents of Cornwall by three visitors driving their cars through Truro with “Cream teas are rubbish” painted down the sides."
    • It's a believable reaction. A Top Gear Magazine road test of muscle cars in the US mentions a Harley-Davidson rider confronting the writers in a layby and pulling a gun on them because they overtook him! It's a similar culture clash to the TV episode - in the UK the biker might curse at the car driver or stop and a try and pick a fight but in the southern US the biker grabs his handgun - in the article the British writers were admiring the unintentional irony of somebody waving a gun their face shouting "you tried to kill me!"
      • Of course, the fact that (as far as I'm aware) no legal action occurred probably casts more than a bit of doubt on the issue. If it's not staged, there's video evidence of people committing some very serious crimes. Even if the Top Gear crew wasn't interested in pressing civil charges, the government would probably be less accommodating. I'm gonna go with fake.
    • There is a Behind the Scenes Top Gear book that talks about the various challenge's and how they were set up, it states that this incident was very real and mentions some dangerous things that weren't shown on camera.

  • The various lights out through putting out the fire with Pussy drink on the first episode 16 episode. (i can see this going both ways, as it might be difficult to get all those events to occur together in the way they did, but at the same time, they did seem like a strange combination to occur together.)

  • Clarkson losing control of his mine-sweeping machine in the demolition challenge. Real or faked?
    • I say faked. It's not hard setting up a shot with him looking bewildered and edit it so it looks as the machine is running by itself.

  • Clarkson having the British Army shoot at his car with live ammunition, while he was still in it? Something about that screams "staged". (As does the little forest fire that got started by the tracer rounds. Top Gear is all about stuff "accidentally" catching fire.)
    • Explained in Ben Collins' book - the initial evasive driving was done by him (Ben), Clarkson came in for the bridge crossing and other stuff, and the end of the day the car had remote control fitted to get shot at with the real ammo.

  • The outrage over the Stig outing. Was there ever this much rage when Perry McCarthy came out as Stig the First?
    • The original black Stig wasn't a massive money maker, since the white stig came out all kinds of shoddy merchandise came out making massive amounts of money for the show. Then suddenly the guy in the helmet wants some "recognition" for his work and you've got a bunch of worried people over the implications. Or failing that after Black Stig revealed himself a very strict contract was drawn up (which the original didn't have) which made the Beeb/producers feel that they every right to kick up a stink.

  • Two things that bugged me about the Ayrton Senna tribute:
    • No mention whatsoever of his close friendship with Gerhard Berger? They toe the line to Heterosexual Life-Partners sometimes, for crying out loud!
      • One of the probable reasons that there wasn't any mention of Berger in the bit was the simple fact that there was very little about him in the Senna documentary that the whole bit was sort of playing up as well. Absolutely no idea why it wasn't mentioned in that documentary though.
    • Okay, logically, I know why Clarkson claimed Lewis Hamilton was Senna's biggest fan. A) Clarkson's biased toward his fellow countrymen, B) Hamilton is a big Senna fan, and C) McLaren would probably only let Senna's championship winning car out if one of their drivers drove it, and going back to B, Hamilton probably jumped at the chance. But. Seriously? Did Clarkson forget Berger, did he forget Senna's protege Barrichello, did he forget, oh I don't know, Senna's nephew, Bruno? Surely at the very least his nephew has a bigger claim to being his biggest fan.
      • As you've already mentioned, it's likely because McLaren would only let the MP4-4 be driven by one of their drivers, in fact, the whole exercise was probably done with help from McLaren. Also, Lewis is well known seeing as he is an F1 World Champion driving for McLaren, something alot of people still associate Senna with. Something that McLaren are known to exploit, especially since their other driver, Jenson Button is a big fan of Senna's rival Alain Prost, as evidenced by the videos McLaren of the two fawning over the MP4-4 used by Senna and Prost during the 1988 season.
    • I think everyone might be looking at this the wrong way round. I think what probably was the case was someone came up with the idea for a McLaren driver to drive Aryton's car as a celebration of his life and death. Obviously Hamilton, who is a big Senna fan, would have put his hand up (or the idea could have been for Louis to drive the car from the outset). Then, when they were filming it, Clarkson added in the hyperbole "Aryton's biggest fan" in his typical exaggeration fashion. I.e., the segment wasn't supposed to be "Aryton's biggest fan drives his car", it was "a McLaren driver who is a huge Aryton fan drives his car." I mean, considering how insanely dangerous those 80s-90s monsters are, it would be a deathwish for anyone other than a World Series driver to get in and take it for a drive, honestly. Or a GP2 or GP3 driver, now they've changed the name.

  • As of November 2010 (When the comment is being made), we've seen shots (or at least the shots exist in the internet) of the Top Gear presenters driving into and through Israel, using cars with Georgian liscense plates. Bringing up the question, what route would they use? If driving, they'd have to to go through either Iraq or Syria at some point, Iraq is definitely unsafe, and Syria seems like it may be a bit iffy. It is possible that the cars aren't actually from Georgia, or course, but it does seem kind of strange in any case. (Obviously, this will all get answered in a few months when the show comes out.)
    • To Explain this: The Cars are from Georgia (as the Israelis wouldn't let Iraqi cars in), but the challenge starts in Kurdistan, loops (after a staged detour to the Iranian border) through Turkey to avoid Mosul, then strikes through Syria and Jordan to get to Israel.
      • As was mentioned in the show, parts of Iraq are reasonably safe. Upon crossing the border into Turkey, the presenters are handed a note from a man in a white coat (as is customary for Top Gear challenges) reading "You idiots. You have escaped from an area in which there is not war, into an area in which there is war."
      • (Original Poster here), Yes, I did see the episode, and as expected in the first paragraph, all was explained. (Although it wasn't quite what i was expecting.)

  • On the Top Gear criticism wikipedia page, plus some other locations, I read about the burqas in the middle East episode, environmental worries about the salt flats, etc. How do these criticisms seen enough to get mentioned, but not any critiscism of cutting their way through some of the rainforest in the Bolivia episode?
    • This is the Amazon Rainforest we're talking about, which can consume an entire ancient temple in under a year. They were not deforesting it by merely cut a footpath through, and as seen when they woke up, they camped on a game-trail/footpath that was already established.
    • May also mentions in the DVD Commentary they traveled along existing roads for the most part, and any trees they removed were already dead or dying. In addition, had they not built the bridge across the gulley, someone from the nearby village certainly would have, as the earlier bridge for the road had collapsed shortly before their arrival.
      • I've also heard similar arguments for the salt flats episode. (The main issue is not so much whether the criticisms are legitimate, as much as that it seems odd that one of these gets more attention than the other.)

  • How in the bejeebus do they get insurance for this show??
    • That's probably what the insurance company wants to know.
    • Series 16 has one of the few examples of the insurance breaking down - they had a Ferrarri 250 GTO (Total production: 39 in 1962-64) on the show, but they could not afford the insurance to have Clarkson take it around the track.
    • They are all above-average drivers when they want to be, and their test track isn't very difficult to begin with.
      • Yes, the average show isn't that dangerous. But driving on the Yungas Road, where the road under Jeremy's car literally starts to crumble beneath him and send him very nearly down the cliff? Driving through Iraq? Taking their ridiculous snowbine over a frozen lake and having the ice give out beneath them? Driving to the North Pole where they could have had all manner of calamitous events happen to them and the crew? Driving up to an ACTIVE VOLCANO? Even the above example of the Ferrarri 250 GTO, that's more because they couldn't afford what could happen to the CAR, not to Jeremy. I can accept that some of the more tense moments are staged and the danger played up for laughs, but still!
    • The same way shows like Mythbusters get insurance; there is a very large and probably very competent team behind the scenes setting up these stunts who do a ton of work long before any of the presenters show up. That's why there was a support team with Arctic specialists following May and Clarkson to the North Pole. It's also why there was a security detail traveling with them in Iraq.
    • Plus, as mentioned in the Rare Vehicles page, the BBC is one of, if not the largest broadcaster in the world. They can afford insurance on almost every vehicle.

  • What is it about Top Gear and burning caravans? The hosts went on a caravan holiday together, and Clarkson burned down the caravan. The hosts build their own caravans and Hammond burned his caravan. The hosts build a train out of caravans and one of them was burned down.
    • It's no secret that the team does not like caravans.
      • By extension, caravaners are an acceptable target of theirs' on the show. To them, caravaners are slow and overly cautious drivers who hog up Britain's single lane roads towing their caravans, and often trying to spin the hobby for something it isn't, or being preachy about how much down to earth or humble they are by going on caravan holidays or weekend trips.
    • And are completely incompetent cooks, which is probably why "cook in your caravan" is such a favorite of the producers. (Even if, by some miracle, nothing burns down, they're going to grouse the entire time for sure.)
    • Rule of Funny

  • I feel a little silly asking this question. But in Series 16, Ep 7, (the snowplowing Dominator episode) did they actually bash a window, set fire to a sign, plow into a car (covered by snow initially), set fire to a car and set fire to a MAN? I can believe the sign and the car at the gas station, but I think the others were probably staged. However, because the child in me kind of wants to believe in their incompetence and the awesome flamethrower, I'm going to leave this question here. Discuss maybe? :)
    • The following morning showed them reading a newspaper that covered their antics, which is rare when something is faked. But it is entirely possible that it was a story talking about them setting up the stunts. The man being set on fire was definitely a member of the stunt crew wearing a fire proof jacket since he was way too casual about being on fire.
      • The newspaper article in question was actually just a story about how they were in Norway and that they were doing a bunch of crazy stuff, which always happens when they are in this country.

  • In the Supercars in Italy segment where they visited the Imola circuit they did a nice little bit about how dangerous the track was and is. They had crashes from Berger, Barichello and of course Senna. But nothing about Roland Ratzenberger, not even a single word. What the hell?
    • They probably couldn't inlclude it for time reasons.

  • During the Alabama stunt, why did James May ask Richard to get out the jump leads for his car instead of jumping in his truck and speeding off?
    • Because that would mean abandoning his Cadillac, which would probably not have nice things done to it if it was left. Also, remember that the team care about cars a lot.

  • This is about Ben Collins outing himself as The Stig, because there are a few things that confuse me about the whole affair. By all accounts Collins was being paid by the BBC less than 100 000 pounds a year as the Stig, his company was going down the drain at record rate, he had a third child on the way (who was born in the middle of the court case), and he was getting infrequent and scattered income from his racing and stuntwork outside the show, so to sum up he really needed a larger steady income to support his family and company. Ok, fine, so he left the show and published his memoirs for the money (or firstly asked for a raise closer to the salaries of his fellow presenters, and then when he wasn't given any, published his book and was consequently fired for breaching confidentiality agreements, depending on who you go by)note . In any case, it's a pretty reasonable course of action for Collins to take, particularly considering that his co-presenters and Perry McCarthy (the former 'Black Stig') all made money by doing the same - confidentiality agreements aside. Obviously he couldn't continue being the Stig once his identity was known, considering the character works on anonymity and mystique, but he seems to have understood that and wasn't expecting to continue as the character after outing himself. What I don't understand is why everyone, particularly Jeremy, James and Richard were so hurt and angry such that they felt legitimately betrayed? Why? The show has made them all millionaires, in part because they wrote extensive autobiographies about it; getting a new Stig has been pretty easy (as we've seen so far in the last few seasons); and Ben Collins was pretty positive about the show and everyone who worked on it both in his book and in interviews (as far as I understand it) so they don't need to worry about getting stabbed in the back. I truly don't understand where the cries of 'traitor' and 'betrayal' came from (I can see it working within the bigger-than-life outlines of their show personaenote  but it makes no sense in Real Life with Real Life considerations taken into account). Can someone explain this? ...Please?note 
    • The short answer is that we just don't know all of the details. I thought Ben's book made it clear that he and the trio parted on good terms, but who knows.
    • It sounds like your mind is made up and nothing anyone is going to say will change that.
      • No, I'm saying: this is what I know, so does anyone know anything else or any other details to explain things? I'm trying to get my head around this and I just don't get it. By all accounts all three presenters are all pretty good guys and eventually they made up with Collins and they all get on fine now. I just don't understand the "betrayal" angle from the beginning. This isn't a criticism of anyone, just me really not understanding why anyone would be calling out betrayal in the first place. Hence, I'm asking for additional explanations or other details I might not have taken into account that could explain things. That's why I spent a good paragraph listing everything that I know so anyone who knows anything else could add to it or correct a mistake I made (why do you think I listed everything like I did?). Don't let your personal preconceptions distort what I actually wrote.
    • It would be very unlikely for them to be millionaires because of their books. Clarkson owns the show, May and Hammond both get high wages because they're famous presenters. Biographies don't make that much money.
    • A couple of years after outing himself, Ben Collins appeared as himself on the James Bond special. So clearly there wasn’t that much ill will towards him.

  • How could the fire not kill the Hilux? In theory if it touches the engine with fuel inside it would be it's end!
    • Mythbusters proved that it is almost impossible for fire to get to a car's engine since all cars are designed to prevent that from happening.

  • The power laps board. I know that the one really long strip is the Koenigsegg, which no one can spell, but there is one other strip on that board that, while not as long as the Koenigsegg, is also longer than the board itself. What car is it?
    • It is the other Koenigsegg. The top one is the K-egg fitted with a special wing designed for Top Gear, the lower is the same car but without the wing (that was the lap where the car tried to murder the Stig) which caused problems in cornering at high speeds due to insufficient downforce.
    • That's not quite right. There are two long names on the board and both of them are Koenigseggs. The first to be placed on the board, and the lower of the two is a Koenigsegg CC8S from series two, that was where the "long name" joke originated. The second long name and the higher of the two is the Koenigsegg CCX. This car was tested twice, first without a spoiler (where it did in fact try to kill the Stig), then at the Stig's request, with a spoiler, making the Koenigsegg CCX the lap record holder for a while. After the lap with the spoiler the first Koenigsegg CCX time was removed. This post has been brought to you by copy and pasting. Because no one wants to spell Koenigsegg.

  • Word pronunciations. The entry under "It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY" notwithstanding, I know for a fact that they get some pronunciations very wrong; one example is "Michigan" with a hard "ch". But in other cases I am left wondering who is making the joke. For example, they so consistently and matter-of-factly pronounce Nissan "NIS-sen" that one starts to believe that they believe they are pronouncing it correctly, yet we in America were told quite clearly by in company ads that their name was pronounced "NEE-sahn". Is it a Top Gear running gag, or is "NIS-sen" the actual British pronunciation of the company name, and if the latter, how did that happen?
    • Yes that is how most people in the UK pronounce Nissan, the rest of it is just how the guys' own accents work.
      • Further to this, NISS-en is the pronunciation used officially by Nissan in their ads here in Australia. I’d imagine that’s the case in the UK as well.
    • "Pry-us" (Toyota Prius) is another one that's confusing that way. I'm reasonably certain Kia doesn't intend for "Cee'd" to be pronounced "see apostrophe dee", though.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: