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#1
Old 02-27-2013, 11:26 PM
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"Top Gear" - how much money do they have, anyway?

Just how much dough do the producers of Top Gear have? Seems like every third episode I see features Clarkson, May and Hammond smashing the ever-loving crap out of the automobile du jour. I've seen them drive a Skoda through a burning barn, put a Toyota Tundra on the roof of a building being demolished, and ram a combine harvester-turned-snowplow into a house in Norway. In the most recent episode, Clarkson and May decided to play rugby with a fleet of new Kia Cee'ds. Twelve, I think, and by the end of the show I don't think there was a single one that didn't need body work. In addition, they shredded a rugby field in a stadium called Twickenham, which, I surmised from context, is to rugby what Lord's is to cricket and St. Andrew's to golf. It was a torn-up mud puddle by the time they were done.

Not to mention how every week they're flinging some $75,000 supercar around their track, or taking motorbikes through Vietnam or pickup trucks to the North Pole. Hell, they have a Formula One driver on staff; the show's insurance premiums must be roughly the GDP of Botswana.

So, British Dopers, what's the skinny? Is the show so phenomenally popular that the BBC can charge advertisers enough to give the Top Gear producers a huge wad of wonga for each ep? Or is there some jiggery-pokery going on?
#2
Old 02-27-2013, 11:48 PM
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I suspect that the new cars are donated or lent to the show by the companies in return for the publicity. The others, like the pickup on top of the building (one of their finest moments, in my opinion) or the motorcycles in Vietnam, are usually bargain-basement, used models.

I don't think the vehicles would be much of a problem, but I can see the production costs adding up in other ways, like travel costs, camera trucks, and helicopters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
In addition, they shredded a rugby field in a stadium called Twickenham, which, I surmised from context, is to rugby what Lord's is to cricket and St. Andrew's to golf. It was a torn-up mud puddle by the time they were done.
One of the better episodes in a while. I liked the helpful advice to all the sodium and eel salesmen who might be in need of a car.

I was wondering about the rugby ground, too. I kind of assumed that they were going to reseed the field anyway, and invited the Top Gear folks to make a pig's breakfast of it beforehand.

P.S. Good username/post combo. You're not James May by any chance?
#3
Old 02-28-2013, 12:11 AM
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It's a hugely popular show, licensed by networks in countries around the globe. So a few thousand quid per episode in body damage isn't a dealbreaker. The James Bond special hosted by Hammond showed the row of BMWs that were collateral damage in filming the latest Bond movie. It makes us Scots cringe to see it, but destroying a $30,000 car while filming a $300 million movie is merely an accounting entry.
#4
Old 02-28-2013, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
I suspect that the new cars are donated or lent to the show by the companies in return for the publicity. The others, like the pickup on top of the building (one of their finest moments, in my opinion) or the motorcycles in Vietnam, are usually bargain-basement, used models.

I don't think the vehicles would be much of a problem, but I can see the production costs adding up in other ways, like travel costs, camera trucks, and helicopters.

One of the better episodes in a while. I liked the helpful advice to all the sodium and eel salesmen who might be in need of a car.

I was wondering about the rugby ground, too. I kind of assumed that they were going to reseed the field anyway, and invited the Top Gear folks to make a pig's breakfast of it beforehand.

P.S. Good username/post combo. You're not James May by any chance?
No, that would be Captain Slow.

Like you, I assumed the rugby season was over, and the stadium would repair the field, anyway, much the way football stadiums over here do after a motorcross or a concert or whatever. (Clarkson, if you're reading, American football is like rugby, only without the homoeroticism.)

I'm sure you're right about the publicity value of a Top Gear review to auto makers. And many of the challenges are along the lines of "buy a supercar for 1000 pounds", so they are indeed using inexpensive vehicles. But those Cee'ds were all new, and that Toyota Hilux (Tundra, to us 'Muricans) was the one they fitted up to go to the North Pole. Had a lot of custom modifications for Artic conditions, if I remember correctly.

Great episode, though - I had forgotten about the sodium and eel salesmen bit. Very funny.That's why I watch the show, even though I'm not particularly interested in cars, and Clarkson's America-bashing gets a bit tiresome. (To give him his due, though, he also bashes France, Germany, Australia, Mexico - anywhere that's not England, apparently).
#5
Old 02-28-2013, 12:32 AM
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He rips on England as well.
#6
Old 02-28-2013, 12:37 AM
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I love top gear but every time they play sports with cars, I cringe. I had the same thought flit through my mind when I saw the fleet of cars line up. It started out "tame" but once Clarkson went up 2 scores it looked like everyone just said "screw it" and went full rugby with the cars. May looked legitimately pissed when Jeremy slammed into him that last time.
#7
Old 02-28-2013, 01:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
No, that would be Captain Slow.
Well, then we'd know you're May. I figured you were trying to be subtle.

Quote:
Great episode, though - I had forgotten about the sodium and eel salesmen bit.
"No, don't try to escape. That's what happened to your mum."

Clarkson's a dick, but he is often a very funny dick.
#8
Old 02-28-2013, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pancakes3 View Post
. May looked legitimately pissed when Jeremy slammed into him that last time.
One of the things that makes that show great is that they genuinely don't like each other.
#9
Old 02-28-2013, 02:13 AM
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It's fun to follow them all on Twitter, as they will often have conversations between each other where they constantly bicker and insult each other in exactly the same way they do on the show.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glazer View Post
One of the things that makes that show great is that they genuinely don't like each other.
I don't think that's true at all. They don't seem to respect each other's views much, but enjoy each other's company just fine - they spend a lot of the year in close contact and if they genuinely couldn't stand each other that wouldn't happen.

As for the expense of the show, it was for a time, and may still be, the BBC's most popular show worldwide so they give it a budget to reflect that. I think Doctor Who and maybe QI now surpass it in popularity, but only just.

Interestingly they had a short road trip across California a few episodes ago, which was filmed in one spurt, then had a car test in Mexico, which was filmed separately. Next week begins a two part special of a road trip across Africa. In between those shoots for Top Gear, both James May and Richard Hammond filmed segments for their other shows*, in the US and Africa respectively, at separate times of the year again.

*Toy Stories, and Miracles of Nature
#10
Old 02-28-2013, 03:21 AM
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QI surpasses top gear in popularity? I adore QI, but I'm pretty sure that top gear beats it in sales and audience by far.
#11
Old 02-28-2013, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
*Toy Stories, and Miracles of Nature
Another series of Toy Stories? Excellent; the first was one of the best shows I've ever seen.
#12
Old 02-28-2013, 04:07 AM
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Maybe. Both have dropped in popularity in the last few years so it's hard to know.

Actually, Sherlock might be the biggest BBC show of recent times. Downton Abbey too, but that's ITV.
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
Another series of Toy Stories? Excellent; the first was one of the best shows I've ever seen.
Just a single episode, about radio controlled planes.

Last edited by GuanoLad; 02-28-2013 at 04:08 AM.
#13
Old 02-28-2013, 04:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
and Clarkson's America-bashing gets a bit tiresome. (To give him his due, though, he also bashes France, Germany, Australia, Mexico - anywhere that's not England, apparently).
Why do Americans always assume that Clarkson has it in for their country? Yes, he does bash cars from other countries, as much as American cars (Mexico in particular springs to mind) if not more, how many American cars make it to the UK after all?

I can't remember when they last reviewed a mass manufactured car from the UK. They did review the City Rover, if you can beleive them Rover denied them a review model and they trashed one they sneaked a test drive in anyway. And that was just a rebadged Indian model to boot.

Clarkson might be nostalgic about British cars, but he's realistic about the reasons for the UK car industry vanishing and took it to task in a special of his old Motor World series.
#14
Old 02-28-2013, 04:36 AM
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According to Andy Wilman, the producer....

"We rarely stay within budget. We’ll go six figures over sometimes, then we get told off. But they don’t send the bailiffs. Every show has had to go through a budget cut and we were not excluded from that, but BBC Worldwide also puts money into the show. They’re selling it to 100 countries, so we’ve got a stronger argument to go to them and say get your wallet out."

http://telegraph.co.uk/culture/t...-Top-Gear.html
#15
Old 02-28-2013, 06:06 AM
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Besides if the BBC doesn't cough up the cash Clarkson will get another small Italian car and drive it through their News Room again.
#16
Old 02-28-2013, 06:34 AM
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Jeremy Clarkson needs to be punched in the face repeatedly.
#17
Old 02-28-2013, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
Jeremy Clarkson needs to be punched in the face repeatedly.
With one of those "gentlemans sausage" that keep cropping up every week.

They used to be somewhat subtle about it - now they just shove it in your face every week. It's getting old.
#18
Old 02-28-2013, 08:21 AM
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I tried to watch the American version of Top Gear, but it was boring compared to the original. A big part of the appeal is the chemistry among the three (and Clarkson's bluster).
#19
Old 02-28-2013, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
Great episode, though - I had forgotten about the sodium and eel salesmen bit. Very funny.That's why I watch the show, even though I'm not particularly interested in cars, and Clarkson's America-bashing gets a bit tiresome. (To give him his due, though, he also bashes France, Germany, Australia, Mexico - anywhere that's not England, apparently).
I have zero interest in cars and I love the show.

I always figured Clarkson's bit was just a shtick but he seems to be one of those people who when they get a little bit of celebrity suddenly starts thinking his opinion on world events is worth listening to. Dumb politics aside, however, I think he's actually the core of the show. May is great (he really shines in his other shows -- his "Toys" show was wonderful), but the combination of nihilism and frat humor that makes TG work is pure Clarkson.

I think the critical test that the mix of actual personalities of the three is the key to the show's magic is demonstrated by how horrible the US version is.

Last edited by Kepler1571; 02-28-2013 at 08:30 AM.
#20
Old 02-28-2013, 08:35 AM
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The BBC actually publish a list of the tariffs they expect to pay independent producers for various sorts of programmes. I don't know if Top Gear fits into the Entertainment or Documentary category but either way this can go up to £300k an hour (drama can go up to £900k+).

As other have pointed out Top Gear is worth a mint in overseas sales so I have no doubt they can go up towards the top end. Given this sort of money knocking the dents out of a load of Kia's once in a 12 episode series is not a big hole in the budget! I'd be pretty certain the biggest single item in the budget will be the presenters' fees - quite rightly given that their interaction is the thing that makes the programme. Up till last year Clarkson had a share in the company doing the worldwide marketing and pocketed several million from this as well as his actual presentation fee. Against this the cost of hardware is small beer.
#21
Old 02-28-2013, 09:18 AM
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The cars they review (including supercars) are donated by the manufacturers; they're usually delivered along with a team of engineers in order to make sure nothing goes wrong.

The "new" cars they destroy, like in the rugby match, are usually pre-production prototypes which can't legally be sold. Automakers will make a bunch of them and send them out to various press agents prior to the actual release of the car. They don't have VIN numbers and may have slight differences from the production model. Since the cars need to be crushed anyway, people often come with creative uses for them.

A lot of their challenges, like the north pole one, also benefit from donations. Afermarket parts companies and tuners will donate their vehicles in exchange for a mention on the show. The company that built the Toyota Hiluxes writes it off as a marketing expense.

The actual costs of the show, which are still pretty substantial, I'm guessing, go into production and travel. There was the review of the last Range Rover where they flew Clarkson and a camera crew to Australia to get a 3 second shot. Something about "will it work upside down" or something. That's the sort of expenditure that shocks me.
#22
Old 02-28-2013, 09:30 AM
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Didn't they do that Australia stunt exactly becuase they were 'suffering' from budgetg cuts... and they continued the entire episode by doing things cheaply, bacause Clarkson had spent the 'whole budget' already.
#23
Old 02-28-2013, 09:42 AM
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Ah yes, I remember now. That was the running joke through that episode. It was supposed to be a bargain review, and then it ended up being the most pointlessly wasteful things they could come up with. It was pretty epic.
#24
Old 02-28-2013, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steronz View Post
There was the review of the last Range Rover where they flew Clarkson and a camera crew to Australia to get a 3 second shot. Something about "will it work upside down" or something. That's the sort of expenditure that shocks me.
Clarkson was probably in Australia for some other thing (maybe a Top Gear live event) and they just shot that short segment with a local crew.
#25
Old 02-28-2013, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
Clarkson was probably in Australia for some other thing (maybe a Top Gear live event) and they just shot that short segment with a local crew.
You can bet on it. Accountants would insist on that.
#26
Old 02-28-2013, 10:14 AM
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Even still, airfare wouldn't be the most expensive part of that shot by far. They scouted a location, acquired a vehicle, and assembled a film crew for 1 joke and 3 seconds of footage. The cost per frame for that shot had to have been pretty epic for a BBC show.

Well, I may be exaggerating the time a bit, and it was an X6, not a Range Rover. Curse my faulty memory!

Last edited by steronz; 02-28-2013 at 10:17 AM.
#27
Old 02-28-2013, 10:18 AM
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I've been on a Top Gear kick the last couple of weeks; I forget which episode it was, but there was one supercar that they couldn't run a test lap with because of the insurance costs.
#28
Old 02-28-2013, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kepler1571 View Post
I have zero interest in cars and I love the show.

I always figured Clarkson's bit was just a shtick but he seems to be one of those people who when they get a little bit of celebrity suddenly starts thinking his opinion on world events is worth listening to. Dumb politics aside, however, I think he's actually the core of the show.
I'm not much of a Clarkson fan, but when he puts his mind to it, Clarkson is a terrific interviewer: there was a Stars In Reasonably Priced Cars segment recently where the star was an overawed young Scottish singer. She was clearly nervous as all hell to start with, but Clarkson was wonderful at drawing her out without being patronising. He may come across as a blustering oaf most of the time, but a lot of that is the character he plays: when it counts, he is very very good at his job.
#29
Old 02-28-2013, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
I've been on a Top Gear kick the last couple of weeks; I forget which episode it was, but there was one supercar that they couldn't run a test lap with because of the insurance costs.
Was that the Ferrari Enzo? I think that was the one that they couldn't test, until Nick Mason from Pink Floyd lent them his.

I must say I do like Top Gear, despite having no great interest in cars. I'm also glad that the new series currently running on the BBC is a bit of a return to form, after a couple of ropey series where the formula seemed a bit stale. Also, there's a two-part Africa special coming up, woohoo.
#30
Old 02-28-2013, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
JIs the show so phenomenally popular that the BBC can charge advertisers enough to give the Top Gear producers a huge wad of wonga for each ep?
The BBC doesn't carry adverts, but the show is a big money-spinner in other ways eg licensing, overseas sales.
#31
Old 02-28-2013, 02:46 PM
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I would love to see Clarkson with Colbert. Maybe Stephen can go be on Top Gear and do the lap or have Clarkson on Colbert.
#32
Old 02-28-2013, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
Was that the Ferrari Enzo? I think that was the one that they couldn't test, until Nick Mason from Pink Floyd lent them his.
I did a bit of googling to find the episode, and it was a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. He says that even though the BBC has all this money, they can't afford the insurance to let him drive it.

They've had problems in the past securing cars (like the Enzo and Veyron) from automakers who have nothing to gain and everything to lose from a bad showing, but ultimately VW caved on the Veyron, and private owners are happy to supply other cars (like the aforementioned 250 GTO).
#33
Old 02-28-2013, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by steronz View Post
They've had problems in the past securing cars (like the Enzo and Veyron) from automakers who have nothing to gain and everything to lose from a bad showing, but ultimately VW caved on the Veyron, and private owners are happy to supply other cars (like the aforementioned 250 GTO).
Aye, I think all three of them have had a go in a Veyron by now: Richard vs a Eurofighter, Jeremy in one of the cross-Europe challenges, and James on a test track taking it to its top speed.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 02-28-2013 at 03:33 PM.
#34
Old 02-28-2013, 04:19 PM
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Just gotta say - the Toyota Hilux is NOT a Tundra - the Tundra is a full size pickup - the Hilux is more like the Tacoma in the US market. And they bought it used off a farmer somewhere.
#35
Old 02-28-2013, 05:51 PM
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Been watching it on netflix, but only up to 2004 so far.

Spoil it for me, how many stigs have they gone through.

Declan
#36
Old 02-28-2013, 06:02 PM
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I enjoy the show, but I find that I tend to enjoy it in spite of the hosts rather than because of them. Their banter is SO scripted and SO badly acted...if it were done just a bit better, it would make a huge difference.
#37
Old 02-28-2013, 06:02 PM
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I just want to know who came up with the daft idea of a sodium and eel salesman, and then ran with it to the point of giving the mini science demo.
#38
Old 02-28-2013, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
I just want to know who came up with the daft idea of a sodium and eel salesman, and then ran with it to the point of giving the mini science demo.
I don't know at all, but it did strike me as a very Jeremy idea.
#39
Old 02-28-2013, 08:30 PM
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Whether it's a shtick or not, Clarkson does have a knack of getting the "Stars" to let their showbiz facades down a bit during the reasonably priced car segment. In most cases they seem quite delighted to be there and chat with Jeremy about their lap times and other assorted topics. It was really a hoot to see Jeremy (in the "roadie" episode) confess to Pete Townshend that their vans weren't big enough to carry all of his gear--Pete suggested that maybe he should work with the Arctic Monkeys instead, as they would be less inclined to bash Clarkson over the head with a mic stand. (Clarkson is a huge fan of The Who).

I really appreciate the fact that they spend as much time driving beat up pieces of crap as they do testing out the latest super/hypercars.

Last edited by blondebear; 02-28-2013 at 08:35 PM.
#40
Old 03-01-2013, 08:10 PM
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Wait...there's a new series? And will I get in trouble when I watch them on streetfire . net? (link broken just in case)

Back to catching up before I read the bad news.
#41
Old 03-01-2013, 11:04 PM
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It's going to take a lot of self restraint to not watch the first half and save it all for one go but it'll be worth it.
#42
Old 03-01-2013, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
I tried to watch the American version of Top Gear, but it was boring compared to the original. A big part of the appeal is the chemistry among the three (and Clarkson's bluster).


Ditto the Australian version - worthy, but lame. The second series was actually a bit better, because they included a professional comedian.

I always say Top Gear is NOT a car program - it's a comedy program built around cars. And like the best comedies it has excellent writing, a good formula and a cast perfectly suited to then format.

OK, maybe it's getting a bit tired, but it has the advantage that there is always a new subject (car and car-related topic) to build a show around.

Last edited by Wallaby; 03-02-2013 at 12:00 AM. Reason: gfdfgd
#43
Old 03-03-2013, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Pushkin View Post
Why do Americans always assume that Clarkson has it in for their country? Yes, he does bash cars from other countries, as much as American cars (Mexico in particular springs to mind) if not more, how many American cars make it to the UK after all?
He doesn't bash American cars; he bashes American people. Or, not really bashes, but insults - cf his comment about rugby being like American football, but played by men. Once he told a young woman in the audience "You can't be American, you're not nearly fat enough." Stuff like that. He and the other guys are actually pretty fair when it comes to American cars, praising what Detroit does well and damning what it doesn't.

Not that that really bother me, mind you. I get that his persona is the curmudgeonly old God-and-Empire Englishman, who looks back to the glory days when men were men and Britain - excuse me, I mean England - ruled the lesser races. The only anti-American thing Top Gear ever did that really pissed me off was during their tour of the American South, when they used creative ediiting to turn the scene of a couple of Alabamans hollering at them about the "Man love is OK" and "NASCAR sucks" slogans painted on their cars, into a full-fledged assault by stone-throwing rednecks bent on lynching them furren bastids. Just didn't happen that way, but hey, we make fun of Alabama, too. And I don't think that was as offensive to us Southerners as flying to Germany in Spitfires or sending a prison bus to pick up the hosts of the Australian Top Gear when they came to England was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
It's fun to follow them all on Twitter, as they will often have conversations between each other where they constantly bicker and insult each other in exactly the same way they do on the show.

I don't think that's true at all. They don't seem to respect each other's views much, but enjoy each other's company just fine - they spend a lot of the year in close contact and if they genuinely couldn't stand each other that wouldn't happen.

May and Clarkson seemed really shaken and scared when Hammond had his big crash.

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Originally Posted by Glazer View Post
Besides if the BBC doesn't cough up the cash Clarkson will get another small Italian car and drive it through their News Room again.
That wasn't an Italian car, it was a Peel P50, built on the Isle of Man. Arguably the funniest Top Gear ever.

Last edited by Slow Moving Vehicle; 03-03-2013 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Usin' Murik'n grammar, dammit!
#44
Old 03-03-2013, 08:12 PM
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I always wondered what the Robin Reliant Space Shuttle program cost. That rocket launch is one of the most impressive videos I've seen in years. Unfortunately the Youtube version resolution sucks.

If I ever win the mega lottery I am gonna pay those guys to do that over till they get it to work.
#45
Old 03-03-2013, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post



That wasn't an Italian car, it was a Peel P50, built on the Isle of Man. Arguably the funniest Top Gear ever.
You mean someone other than the Italians build crap like that?
#46
Old 03-03-2013, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
The only anti-American thing Top Gear ever did that really pissed me off was during their tour of the American South, when they used creative ediiting to turn the scene of a couple of Alabamans hollering at them about the "Man love is OK" and "NASCAR sucks" slogans painted on their cars, into a full-fledged assault by stone-throwing rednecks bent on lynching them furren bastids. Just didn't happen that way, but hey, we make fun of Alabama, too.
What was the real story and how do I find out about it, because the stuff they showed was pretty damning. And having lived in Alabama for awhile, I really can't say it was all that surprising.
#47
Old 03-06-2013, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
That wasn't an Italian car, it was a Peel P50, built on the Isle of Man. Arguably the funniest Top Gear ever.
Odd that they build a small car like that on an island with no speed limit.
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