Robin Capper pointed me to The Sun’s latest column by Jeremy Clarkson, which reveals that not only has brain-injured presenter Richard Hammond gotten up for a wiz and called James May ‘Cockface’, the claims that Top Gear producers dare presenters to do ever-wilder things are total crap.
I have watched Top Gear for a long time. The ﬁrst time I recall it being on here in New Zealand was around the time of the London Motor Show in 1989, with Noël Edmonds presenting. The Honda Concerto-based Rover 200 had just been launched. And it was on at some ungodly hour, like 5.30 p.m. on a Saturday, not the prime-time slot it enjoys today.
Over the years, there has been potential for plenty of injury, but thanks to the production team’s care over health and safety, Hammond’s crash was the ﬁrst serious one.
Angela Rippon could have skidded out of control at a skid pan. Tony Mason could have hurt himself badly when rolling his Reliant Robin. Series producer Andy Wilman might have had a more serious injury as the Top Gear presenter who has done the most nude scenes. I may jest, but the team has done crazier things, too: Toyota Aygo footballing, attempting to drown Richard Hammond to investigate how best to get out of a sinking car, and playing conkers with caravans.
But in 28 years, the Top Gear team has remained relatively safe.
That hasn’t stopped the BBC from giving the series ever-shorter runs, or being its harshest critic. Then, that’s the BBC. Critical of its own government, and now critical of its own colleagues. It is in a self-destructive mood. Anything that there is some democratic support for, it will oppose.
Yet Top Gear makes money like bonkers, with the TV series and a complementary magazine, both of which succeed because they have each other.
While the money motive is not something I cite on this blog regularly, it may be the network’s and the governors’ strongest motivation right now. I say this as the anti-Top Gear brigade, those whom ignore that cars are safer, more stable and more environmentally friendly than the Ford Anglias or Red Chinese motors they will have us drive around in, is loud. It may be outnumbered by Top Gear fans, but there’s no denying that this past week, the car-haters have got very loud indeed.
‘Shall we listen to this whacky minority, because we sure aren’t listening to the majority?’ they will ask.
To whom will they turn? I suspect the only people they can turn to, in this money-making era for the BBC, are the bean counters on the board. As in so many organizations.
And they will say that the majority should win the day.
That shouldn’t stop the rest of us ﬁghting for our show today. Donations for the air ambulance service that rescued Richard after his crash are well into the ﬁve ﬁgures, and that’s English pounds. So there are many of us willing to put our money where our mouths are.
Now we need to start writing to the BBC, and campaigning with Clarkson and Andy Wilman to keep this show on the air. Say we will continue supporting the show or the magazine, or both.
We also need to remind them that it’s not speed that kills or hurts.
Look at Germany. If the road safety lobbyists are right, then that country would be a mess with its autobahn network. Every day would be an episode of Alarm für Cobra 11: Die Autobahnpolizei.
But only four per cent of German fatalities happen on the unrestricted parts of the autobahn. The rest are in areas with speed limits. Reason: crap driving. Bad education. Road rage. People who aren’t disciplined behind the wheel.
If the Germans were less disciplined, they would be apeing Erdogan Atalay after every episode of Cobra 11.
Take New Zealand, a land of crap drivers. We may have turned out Chris Amon but anyone who has driven here the day after driving in, say, California, will notice the steep decline in standards. We lack discipline. And we kill a lot of our own.
The cops say it’s speed, but I say it’s fundamentally the way we treat cars as racing machines, or extensions to our cellphones, secondary to a call that we have to make on them.
And Britain might not be too different since a lot of Kiwis come from Anglo stock.
If Clarkson was worried in his column for the Murdoch Press, then we should all be worried. He knows something we don’t. Or at least, he knows something that we all have guessed about the vocal nature of the anti-car minority.
The bean counters and the governors need to hear us now—here’s the form.
My email to the BBC is on my Vox blog.
Del.icio.us tags: Top Gear Richard Hammond Jeremy Clarkson TV BBC road safety speed anti-car Posted by Jack Yan, 23:59
People trying to drive and chat on the cell phone are a major danger to themselves and others here in the U.S. We also have some incredible idiots who will try to do all sorts of things while trying to drive to work.Post a Comment
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