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New series of Top Gear
That's it then, yet another series of the BBC's defiantly popular Top Gear car show is off and motoring after the first episode aired tonight.
The initial instalment of the show's latest Sunday night sequence answered some burning questions along the way as well - all of them emphatically in the negative.
Most of us already knew better than to wonder if Top Gear might depart from the formula that's served it so well, if the presenting team would abandon the irreverence and sarcasm in the face of recent controversies or if there might be a new focus on the boring cars that most of us drive. Now we know for certain. That ain't gonna happen.
Sunday night escapism
Top Gear's special blend of escapism by tyre smoke, horsepower and breaking things continues unabated. The new series, the 17th since Clarkson and co reinvented the show's flagging automotive magazine format in 2002, will be business as usual to the extent that episode one could genuinely have been plucked from the midst of any of the previous 16 runs. Only the slightly more lived-in look the presenters are sporting these days might give the game away.
That familiarity is fine, of course, because armies of fans love Top Gear and millions more will choose to watch if the show's placed in a Sunday night toss-up against Countryfile and Popstar to Operastar.
Channel 5's cunning scheduling of the classic second world war romp Where Eagles Dare may have had some of the target audience wavering, but they could still tune-in after Top Gear to catch Richard Burton flexing his acting muscles and Clint Eastwood giving the Germans what for.
There was enough patriotic flag waving to satisfy most viewers in this episode of Top Gear anyway. We saw Jeremy saluting the beautiful Jaguar E-Type in its 50th anniversary year with a little help from the armed forces. We were treated to marching bands, commandos unfurling banners down the side of Beachy Head, balloons and overflies from a Spitfire and a Hurricane.
The show remains a Royal Tournament, every Sunday evening. Its ability to conjure up whatever it likes at vast expense, organisation and favour-begging, for just 40 or so seconds of screentime, remains astonishing.
James May met Britain's Winter Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams - then put her skeleton bob up against Kris Meeke in the MINI works rally car. The MINI won.
Even the Germans got a far easier ride than Clint was busy dishing out on the other side. The impressive BMW 1 Series M Coupé received a resounding thumbs-up after being put through its power-sliding paces and belted around the track by The Stig.
BMW 1 Series M Coupe
Golf-loving rocker Alice Cooper was as eccentric as ever in the role of star guest, before getting into the reasonably priced car for a sluggish lap in sodden conditions.
Hammond, meanwhile, had opened proceedings by climbing aboard the massive, massively ugly and monumentally politically incorrect Marauder SUV. Any car that can make the Hummer H3 look like a Kia Picanto deserves respect.
Lots to look forward to
All things considered, it was an appropriately action-packed show to launch the new series with Clarkson, Hammond and May continuing to do what they do and few signs of the Top Gear juggernaut hitting the crash barriers just yet.
What's next? Well, still to come this series we've got a hot hatch shoot-out on the streets of Monte Carlo, the Ferrari 458 Italia versus the McLaren MP4-12C, Richard Hammond driving a tank and someone getting Jeremy Clarkson's name tattooed on what we'll describe here as their lower back. It could only be Top Gear.
Don't forget to let us know what you thought of the first episode of Top Gear series 17 in the comments section below.
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Top Gear = Top Telly.
STILL the most entertaining show on the telly!!
Sorry, who is Steve Walker?... Is he famous for anything?... Wish I had a job that paid me to watch TV... I guess he must know something about Cars, but it's hard to tell from this article...
He seems a little miffed that Top Gear wasn't a disappointment tonight... Still he no doubt will be watching and waiting... One day... One day....
Beat you Mona---73 yo Grandad here------
Excellent prog .They put me straight back into my 20's with the cockeyed rivalry.
Clearly all good drivers at speed---well James may suffer a bit, but a good ole West Country boy can handle that.
A superb TV show and really the only one BBC now does that's worth watching.
@ Frank Bennett (frankulr): I hope you're enjoying QVC!
I enjoyed the show as usual but i think Mr Clarkson treatment of Kris Meeke on camera when James May tried to interview him after his fantastic drive leaves a lot to be desired. If he didn't intend to allow Kris to speak why bother having him on camera.
So Mr Clarkson wise up and don't insult your guests as i'm sure you would be easily offended if the roles had been reversed but at least Kris could show you how to drive.............
John...how naive can one man be??? It was all scripted and staged....Kris Meeke would have rehearsed that bit of 'put down' ten times over before the show... He was in on it!! It was all to espouse and self-ridicule the fundamental belligerence and macho of TG! Clarkson staged asking inane questions of Amy Williams to highlight mens greater interest in sexy women (particularly in skin-tight lycra bodysuits....phew!!!)...over sexy car antics!! How could you NOT get that???? Some great works are totally wasted on people like you!!! No wonder Britain is in the state it's in now!!!
It's just entertainment so why do people take it so seriously - my wife sat through it hated it, criticised it and then watched some programme about Peter Andre -
I guess it is mainly the PC brigade who hate people rubbishing their views on politics and global warming etc that don't have a sense of humour that hate the programme.
We don't like the "Star in a Reasonably priced car" section - if you don't like the guest, the whole thing is a bore....apart from that, we love the show, with all its faults, it still is highly entertaining.
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