Top Gear will return, BBC insists

majbthrd

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A recent study indicated that the younger generation has an attention span of 90 seconds before they become disinterested. So, the salient points of this post are:

1) Celebrity worship is nothing new at Top Gear
2) Jeremy Clarkson is a grandstander and manipulates the media for his own financial gain
3) Recent series of Top Gear are markedly inferior in quality to those of past
4) Terminating Top Gear could be the best thing for the program

Recently, the media has been a-titter about Jeremy Clarkson dropping increasingly less subtle hints that Top Gear would not return. Further gossip suggests that producer pressure to incorporate celebrities into the program is the cause for Clarkson's apparent discontent.

In this author's opinion, the celebrity worship incorporated into Top Gear (and Fifth Gear) is deplorable. (The antics in recent series of Fifth Gear show how much it can cheapen a TV program and the credibility of the presenters.) However, celebrity worship is nothing new.

Celebrity promotion has unfortunately been an integral part of Top Gear for many years. A film trailer accompanied Christian Slater's visit to the show. When Steve Coogan appeared on the show, a clip of his most recent show Saxondale was featured. When a Ferrari Enzo was loaned by a former Pink Floyd member for testing, his book was promoted in a faux-subtle manner. Every celebrity who appears on Top Gear has their current works cited and promoted. The weekly segment seems specifically designed to allow Top Gear to cash in on a given celebrity's status in a trade for promotion of the celebrity's particular cause.

One could argue that the Clarkson-era Top Gear is inherently steeped in celebrity worship in another way too. The new format relies heavily upon an overly eager audience who jockeys for position, each hoping for their five seconds of fame in front of the camera with the presenters. It is sad and pathetic.

So, when Jeremy Clarkson claims that "we don't normally do this" when shamelessly showing a trailer for a Hugh Grant film, you know that he is also contriving a situation. This pretend hiccup on that show is subsequently followed by his insinuation at the end of the series that the program might not be returning. Then, he escalates further with his piece in the ?The Sun'.

Is there truth to the notion that celebrity worship dilutes the quality of Top Gear? Absolutely. Is it Clarkson's altruistic aim to force an improvement on the program? Unlikely.

We've all seen this tired game before. A half-truth is increasingly blown out of proportion to be used as leverage in a negotiation ploy.

Take Clarkson's Ford GT. We all know that Detroit has had the misfortune of producing some of the most uninvolving, unpolished, and generally disappointing vehicles on the planet. So, Clarkson plays on that belief. First, he inserts increasingly disparaging comments about his GT into the scripted dialog of Top Gear. Then, he invites readers of the Times to vote whether to retain the GT. What's his beef with the car? The immobilizer added to the vehicle in the U.K. doesn't work properly, causing the car to not work or report it stolen. Does he disparage the company that makes the immobilizer or the company that installed it? No. Rather, he disparages Ford. He knows that he has strong influence over the car-obsessed public, and Ford has the biggest pockets and the most to lose by his negative comments. So, he uses that celebrity influence to force an 800lb gorilla to do his own bidding.

Want more examples of this "win at any cost" approach? Try any of the Top Gear competitions. Clarkson shamelessly skews results to win whenever possible.

Is that the duty of any person to use every tool at their disposal? Perhaps (albeit not at the cost of one's dignity).

So, rather than whine about the potential loss of Top Gear, more of you should take a sensible step back and appreciate that Clarkson has a strong financial interest in "turning the screws" in contract negotiations with the BBC (and perhaps a narcissistic desire to fan the flames of his own celebrity).

My own opinion (perhaps shared by others) is that the quality of Top Gear peaked around the sixth series of the new Clarkson-era format. Unfortunately, it has been a rocket-assisted Mini downhill descent ever since.

Top Gear, at its best, celebrates the euphoria associated with driving a performance car. It uses cinematic camera work and light-hearted, witty dialog to draw in petroheads and car-phobes alike. What is a visceral and exciting for the driver can become dry and one-dimensional on camera. The magic of Top Gear was to convey that experience directly to the viewer.

However, somewhere along the way, this was perverted into a forum for displaying ever more daft stunts and grandstanding. And, yes, increased celebrity worship.

Not all is lost. Look at the recent segment of James May taking a Veyron past 200 mph and back again. With less deft hands than those at Top Gear, that segment could have been a disaster. Speedometer needle goes up; background whooshes past. Big deal. However, by setting the scene at a Cold War facility, adopting Germanic configuration procedures, some flashy 2001-esque special effects of reflections on James May's helmet visor, and a frank relation of his thoughts during the event make the segment work, and work well.

Sadly, such segments are now the exception to the rule, rather than the heart of the show, but we can live in eternal hope that such quality returns.

So, what's my argument for terminating Top Gear? Personally, I would almost rather see it end than further dilute itself. However, I'm not going to make a concerted argument for such (although I do think the overburdened British license fee payer certainly deserves better).

So, why telegraph at the beginning of this post that Top Gear should be terminated? Unfortunately, the School of Clarkson teaches us that exaggeration and misstatement bring about a heightened interest in a half-truth to draw attention to a personal cause. Gotcha. :)

To any of the Top Gear production staff reading: make Top Gear better. You know that you have it in you.
 

freakshow

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Hell of a first post.
IMO, when a star is on, they have to mention what they are up to. To think that there would be no plug is silly. They ask a "star" to come on the show and be laughed at (with) as they drive a round a track in a crappy, er reasonably priced car, always showing the slide outs and the onboard footage. From radio to TV to print media, the only way a "star" or "celebrity" will appear is if there is a mention of a current project or maybe to have an ego stroked. There has to be some ego stroking, some negotiations. While Top Gear is a big show, I am sure it is has do everything and anything to get someone in that reasonably priced car. You may be incorrect on the subtext of the "we don't normally do this" message. Perhaps Clarkson is saying that with a grain of salt and a twinkle in his eye.
Whether or not all that dilutes the show, who knows.
As for the stunts... Some are cool, exhilarating, and interesting, while some are heading towards the "jump the shark" moment (Space Shuttle, anyone).
I don't think they need any more stars. The appeal is the cars and it is all about the cars. While I am sure there would be a spike in viewers is they had another "star" on, is it worth killing the brand? Time will tell.
At the very least these guys say a car is rubbish if it is indeed rubbish, while EVERY car magazine over here (USA) sings the praises of EVERY car it reviews simply because of ad revenue. God forbid they criticize GM, Ford or Chrysler and their pathetic attempts at building a car.
 

typeronin

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Radio One has a James soundbite running on "Newsbeat" every half hour (i think) that basically Jeremy's words in the Sun column were misconstrewed. Top Gear IS safe and will return in the autumn. That's the media circus for you, turning a cryptic remark into some huge yes no game.

Anyone have this clip so we can hear it ourselves?

Unless I hear May's ridiculous voice telling us that everything will be okay, I don't think I'll be able to sleep. I was ready to commit seppuku when I first heard about the crisis.
 

GraemeH

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Is that Walter Goldsworthy back a few posts up there?
 

iongerm

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I personally couldn't care less what JC's motives are regarding the Ford GT, celebrities and plugging their recent works. You must be dreaming if you believe that a star like Christian Slater would come on a TV programme for a warm handshake.
I sit down on my sofa on Sunday nights to be entertained... It's an entertainment programme and the most successful on BBC2 for 10 years- there will always be some people who will critizise JC for his calculated actions. I don't think what majbthrd said was necessarily wrong, but the way that some people are obsessed with finding bad things to say about TG and at the same time watching it makes me shiver. If you don't like it, don't watch it. You go through a hell of a lot of trouble (as you are in US, so you cannot JUST turn the telly on) to watch this overcommerciallized programme.
:blink:
 

HondaF1

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I personally couldn't care less what JC's motives are regarding the Ford GT, celebrities and plugging their recent works. You must be dreaming if you believe that a star like Christian Slater would come on a TV programme for a warm handshake.
I sit down on my sofa on Sunday nights to be entertained... It's an entertainment programme and the most successful on BBC2 for 10 years- there will always be some people who will critizise JC for his calculated actions. I don't think what majbthrd said was necessarily wrong, but the way that some people are obsessed with finding bad things to say about TG and at the same time watching it makes me shiver. If you don't like it, don't watch it. You go through a hell of a lot of trouble (as you are in US, so you cannot JUST turn the telly on) to watch this overcommerciallized programme.
:blink:

Well said!! :thumbsup:
 

Ziggy Shadow-Dust

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Top Gear is about cars. Everything they do relates to cars. They review a car or two. Get a celebrity to race round their track in a Reasonably Priced Car. Hosts have a race, one in car, two in public transport. Take part in a Top Gear challenge for small money. Host a local BBC DRIVEtime show. Send a three wheel van up into space. Make a public info film on the dangers of beating the train at level crossings. Caravan holidays. Roadtrip across America.

As long as Top Gear continue to play with cars or transport related issues. I'm as happy as May driving the tow car at the start of the caravan holiday.

PS. Someone at Final Gear should sent an e-mail to all members asking them not to create threads about this issue.
 
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AnGuRuSO

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Interesting point made. I think he's right about the celebrity worship. I wish Clarkson would hold true to what he thinks and burn-down the celebrities that are plugging shitty movies/albums. That'd be real good. Still, I think even Clarkson isn't rude enough to do it.

Hope he does though.
 

ttyrants911

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Anyone have this clip so we can hear it ourselves?

Unless I hear May's ridiculous voice telling us that everything will be okay, I don't think I'll be able to sleep. I was ready to commit seppuku when I first heard about the crisis.

I was at work and was text about it. I have been trying to find someone who caught it but no luck as yet
 

Cymraes

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Geez, all this over-analysis over a throwaway comment by JC. The BBC said it would be back on the summer, JC said it wouldn't be back on ... in the summer. So we have to wait until Autumn instead. Big deal.

As long as Top Gear continue to play with cars or transport related issues. I'm as happy as May driving the tow car at the start of the caravan holiday.

x2! 8)
 

shamos

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majbthrd:

"Top Gear, at its best, celebrates the euphoria associated with driving a performance car. It uses cinematic camera work and light-hearted, witty dialog to draw in petroheads and car-phobes alike. What is a visceral and exciting for the driver can become dry and one-dimensional on camera. The magic of Top Gear was to convey that experience directly to the viewer."

What?! No it isn't! The magic of Top Gear is the amazing joy you get from simply watching three middle aged blokes cocking about shouting about how they hate french cars and how americans are ignorant and fat. The magic of Top Gear is that even if the show would have been called Top Pier (thanks RhymeZone) and would be about piers, rather than cars, I would still wait every week until 5 in the morning waiting for the VUK rip to be released! Because as long as the three presenters are there and are left alone to do whatever they like, the show will always be wonderful, and there is no reason for it to removed.

Dude, i'm sorry, but you just don't seem to get the show.
 

Blythy

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talk over, clarkson confirmed that top gear will be back in the autumn so long as none of them go upside down.l
 

TC

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Clarkson "hated" his Ford GT?

I remember Clarkson saying he didn't care if the Ford GT worked or not, just so long as he could have it on display and look at it.
 

reeneebob

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Clarkson "hated" his Ford GT?

I remember Clarkson saying he didn't care if the Ford GT worked or not, just so long as he could have it on display and look at it.

Okay hated it because he 'never finished a complete trip in it, ever, making it the world's most unreliable car'.

Better? :D
 

TC

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We've watched him complete trips with it on TopGear.
 

TC

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What Clarkson says and what is true are rarely the same.

I'm just pointing out that he never said he hated it. In fact, he seemed to love it. He even wrote an article about buying the Lambo. He said he wasn't serious about buying one, but the salesman thought he was and put the order through anyway. He also said he never owns more then one nice car, so he had no choice but to get rid of the Ford GT.
 
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