What Made Clarkson, Hammond and May’s Top Gear So Great?

In memoriam: old Top Gear.

It’s been almost thirteen months since Season 22 Episode 8 of Top Gear was broadcast.

Ignoring the ‘From A-Z’ episodes broadcast in December 2015, S22E08 was the last episode of the BBC show that had the famed trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. From 2002 till 2015, we were treated to ambitious vehicle challenges, ridiculous races, caravan carnage, superb specials, and the occasional Top Gear Top Tip.

the top gear trio

However, ever since the Clarkson got sacked, and May and Hammond along with executive producer Andy Wilman left, the show has had six presenters (out of which Chris Evans, one of the main ones, got sacked also left). With falling viewing figures since the first episode, this new iteration of Top Gear hasn’t been well received, and has been relentlessly criticised for trying and failing to copy the aspects of the original that made it great.

the new ones

But let’s rewind back to the good old days and remember some of their best moments:

1) All the specials

From biking in Vietnam to digging up and destroying a lawn, racing Bombay’s trains, exploring Africa, running from rednecks and DRIVING TO THE NORTH POLE, these episodes were usually highlights of the series. Even though most followed the same basic formula of ‘cheap car + long drive + crazy challenges’, they were all different and made brilliantly. What made the specials so successful aside from their crazy antics was the way they always managed to portray the situation as “three guys stuck on a problem”. How would you and your friends react if you had to make a raft and stick your car on it to cross a river? 

TG in Africa

Another day in the office

2) The Races

Just to list a few:- a Ferrari Daytona vs a Powerboat in the Riviera, racing across London, a steam engine vs a car and a bike from the 40s, a Veyron vs a Cessna 182 and a train, and racing across St. Petersburg with a bicycle and a hovercraft. They even went out of their way to have some rather unconventional races, such as Jeremy racing the sun with a Jaguar XJ.

top gear jaguar race


Jeremy raced the sun, and the sun lost

3) The Challenges

Where do I start?

Building ambulances, police cars, electric cars, hovercraft-cars, old people cars, and stretch limos, taking part in a 24 hour endurance race, building amphibious cars to cross the English Channel, car rugby, setting up a museum, completing road works, helping Albanian mob bosses, building a train, and (my favourite) a Reliant Robbin Space Shuttle.

top gear space


It worked a little

4) The banter

The series is littered with banter in a way you rarely find with other shows. Clarkson, Hammond and May were bold with the things they said to each other. Sometimes they stepped out of line, like Hammond’s comments about Mexicans and Clarkson’s, well, lots of stuff. But the way they interacted with each other made it clear there was a mutual understanding between them, in a quintessentially British way. Very few shows can replicate what they had.

clarkson hammond may grand tour


The Stig’s replacement?

5) Their chemistry

How ever funny your script is, a show isn’t going to work out if there’s no chemistry in the presentation. Apart from the trio being good friends off screen, the sarcasm, humour and wit along with great chemistry among the presenters is what really made the show successful, and is something that not all new presenters had. Individually, they may be very good at what they do, but as a group they didn’t work out.

The trio are now filming for the Amazon Prime show The Grand Tour, which is slated to debut in Autumn 2016. Don’t miss our article highlighting how their filming is going.

Written by Samar Dikshit

I have expensive hobbies like photography and aviation related things. Anyone willing to donate money, contact me,
Also Instagram : @samar14641

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