Top Gear is one of the most controversial TV shows, and one of the most popular. In spite of offending everyone from Albania to India, its hosts continue to pull audiences from across the world. Here’s why…
Controversy and Top Gear are synonymous and by now the show’s viewers will be well accustomed to that fact. In its stint in India, the show’s hosts did manage to ruffle quite a few feathers. How? Well, for starters it featured jokes about food and trains and a Jaguar fitted with a toilet seat on its boot. The BBC received 188 complaints about the show. One particular scene, which drew a lot of flak was when Jeremy Clarkson took off his trousers at a party to demonstrate how to use a trouser press. Apart from that, he also showed off the customised Jaguar, complete with a toilet roll on its aerial. Clarkson had said on the programme, “This is perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.” The comment was so ‘offensive’ that even the High Commission of India in London complained about it.
Meet the Cast
Jeremy Clarkson definitely has a distinctive style of hosting the show. With his unique tongue-in-cheek humour, he has earned the reputation of being politically incorrect. But that doesn’t deter him from trashing cars that he doesn’t like, or praising cars that he does. Millions of people trust his judgement and watch the show only for laughs. The award-winning host is, without a doubt, the heart of the show.
Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
Lotus Ellise 111S
Hammond, 41, is a heart-throb. His exceptional style and wittiness, often to shut Clarkson up, is what is best about him. Since he is the youngest of the three hosts, he connects well with the younger viewers and has the right attitude. Having recovered from his high-speed crash, Hammond returned to a hero’s welcome in 2007. Also his verdict on cars is spot on.
Vintage Dodge Charger
Vintage Mustang GT
Land Rover Defender
Opel Kadett (Oliver)
There is never a dull moment when James May is around. The 49-year-old has earned the nickname ‘Captain Slow’, for his careful driving style, a love of small, underpowered cars and a habit of getting lost and distracted driving. However, in a July 2010 episode he drove a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, reaching a speed of 417.6kmph, surprising everybody. He is exceptionally good with cars, and he isn’t shy of showing it.
Series 9, Episode 1 – Brain Injury and insensitivity
Clarkson asked Hammond following his horrific 370kmph crash, “Are you now a mental?”, which was followed by James May offering Richard Hammond a tissue “in case he dribbled”. The BBC claimed the comments were meant as a joke, but also claimed they saw how the comments could cause offence to certain viewers.
Series 15, Episode 7 – Stig shooting
The show received over 7,000 complaints regarding the presenters’ American East Road Trip. The episode depicted the trio, Jeremy, James and Richard, carrying out a drive-by shooting of The Stig, using cardboard cut-outs. Ofcom claimed that the scene ‘idolised the use of guns’ and was ‘an outright attack on The Stig’.
Series 16, Episode 2 – Mexico
Reviewing the Mastretta, Hammond said, “Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.” The presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as ‘refried sick’. Clarkson said he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.
Episode 4 – Albania
The BBC received 600 complaints following the fourth episode of series 16, it was related to an incident in which the presenters ‘murdered’ a fat Albanian and attempted to find out which of three car boots he would fit into the best. The episode was also criticised for its stereotypical views on Albania, claiming it is a nest for Mafia car thieves.
The way the hosts put the lap times of all cars on one scale is amazing, which is one good part about Top Gear. I like how they test everything from Kias to Aston Martin. I think their humour makes the show a little more personal and entertaining, and interesting, of course.
Every night before I go to sleep, I watch Top Gear religiously. Jeremy is fantastically funny. I remember this one episode where Bentley refused to give their car for the show. So they started comparing a rundown car to the Bentley. Sweet revenge!
Top Gear is awesome! My favourite host is Richard Hammond. What I love about the show is that they look at the overall driving experience and leave the rest of the boring specifications out. Plus, they really push the cars to the limit.
Whenever I watch Top Gear, I enjoy watching the hosts enjoy themselves. And what other car-show hosts drive a truck, an aeroplane and go on road-trips? That is what is unique here. Their wisecracks are so funny. It’s a pity people find it offensive.