I am a big ginormous fan of a television programme that never existed. But even though it never, ever happened (or so the lawyers say), you may have a hazy memory of a show called Top Gear. Where three Englishmen had a load of fun, drove cars in far flung areas and sometimes even reviewed them.
But some say that was just a dream…
Never fear though because three blokes who have just met have a new dream. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have a stage show, promising cars, sport, fun and some sparklers. For three men who just met, they get on very, very well.
If like me, you are a big fan of the show-that-must-not –be-named, you must see Clarkson, Hammond and May live. It’s funny, crazy and contains plenty of car pornography (Jeremy’ words, not mine).
My journey started with a hefty outlay for Superfan tickets. It was totally worth the cost though for the hardcore fans (like myself). You got a spiffy lanyard and tag, priority access and first look at a lovely new Lamborghini and Ferrari. Oh, and some edible food and alcohol. The food was okay, alcohol okay, soft drinks fine but I liked the mini ice cream the best.
I managed to snag a seat at the front table near an empty couch with a precarious leg. Soon, after we were adequately liquored up, three men would appear. But first, there was some chatting with the fans (some new to that show over the last few years, some stalwarts) and then it was time for the introduction of Shane Jacobson. When it was asked which films he’d starred in, it was a resounding ‘Kenny!’ (this is a cult film that’s definitely worth watching, although if TV is more your thing, I recommend The Time of Our Lives). Shane talked briefly before three middle aged men appeared on stage in jeans (Clarkson’s hem torn – well, he is unemployed you know) and shirts.
THESE WERE THE PEOPLE FROM THE TELLY. IN 3D.
James, Jeremy and Richard are all wonderfully natural in real life. It’s obvious that they get on really well and the Q&A session was very chilled out (despite being told not to discuss the programme we all had hallucinated). We found out many things – that Richard has crashed multiple cars (seriously, nearly every brand of supercar) and James May is even slower in real life. James May also followed the wrong Land Rover home once – to a farm instead of the camera crew’s car. Jeremy drove through a wall too fast in a lorry (his bits all ended up in the wrong spot) and James May burst a testicle in Bolivia. He may also have spilled water on his crotch too in the early days. There could have been an incident in France on a motorway with some fast cars. Maybe involving the constabulary.
Continuing on with the mythical TV show, the worst guest for ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ might have been mentioned. One well-endowed young lady was the allegedly the rudest, latest and had the biggest entourage on this fairy tale of a programme. The best was Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who casually talked about sawing off his ‘annoying’ hand, to the point where the audience voted unanimously to have more of the interview rather than a review of the Renault Clio (wise choice). Lionel Ritchie was the first guest from America, so got his own motorhome (for which was devised a game to say ‘Hello’ to him with a straight face).
Did you know Chris Evans had a slower lap time than Jennifer Saunders?
Then it was time for audience questions. One gentleman thanked the trio for all the pleasure they have given viewers over the years. Then, in typical Aussie fashion, said ‘but it’s Bath-hurst not Barrrrth-hurst!’ (Thank you sir!) As the session came to the end, it was time for the quick and nimble to leap to beg for selfies, autographs etc. Unfortunately I am too short for Mr Clarkson’s notice (although it may have been because I said, ‘Mr Clarkson’) but the man I share a haircut with, James May, kindly agreed to a selfie. Thank you sir! I could not glimpse the Hamster, so it was time for ice cream, a T shirt and a hoodie before the sitting down to the main show.
Great seats too – front row just behind the sound deck. Optimal viewing for what is now known as ‘The Cr-Ashes’ (aka Australia versus England in a variety of sports involving motors). We start with a video of the trio as bad 70’s James Bond wannabes (James, for example, tends to accidently shoot anyone in his path). It’s stereotypically English, with shots of Tower Bridge and silhouette scenes of gyrating women. But when it comes time to fight the baddies, Jeremy throws a punch. With that BAM!, someone off camera tells him, ‘You’ve crossed the line – you’re sacked’. With that, James and Richard come out into the stadium on bikes, thankful they have lost the person who couldn’t ride a bike. Now they can talk about bikes, ride bikes, test bikes…uh oh. That man is back and the music starts – ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Jeremy doesn’t want to come out to that song (‘although plenty of people have’ quips Richard) but eventually he appears on a hovercraft.
In turn, the Australia team is presented (Shane Jacobson and Steve Pizzati, both hosts of the Australian version of the forbidden show; with Riana Crehan from V8 Supercars). And it’s time for the first sport – polo on motorbikes. It’s still clear that Clarkson can’t ride a bike too well and he makes his feelings known.
After that, Jeremy, James and Richard discuss that there’s all sorts of funny things on the telly these days. People baking a cake, people playing golf and even someone talking about the weather. Surely they could make a show about cars…after all they’re unemployed! But Jeremy thinks it must be very difficult to make a television programme about cars. You have to remember to look at the right camera and remember all the specifications about the car. Then you have to list them all without being boring. (Plus, you also need to drive it into shot – not through it. Then the right presenter has to appear on the track.) It’s very difficult and Jeremy tries really hard, but he looks really stiff and awkward and he talks reallyreallyfast. In contrast, Richard speaks in a very deep voice with very short statements. James doesn’t say much. They race the cars. James forgets that you need to put in gear AND rev the engine. And so, what might be the nickname of Captain Slow in an alternate show, is brought to mind.
Of course, if you are doing a show about cars, you need to have a racing driver racing them around the track to see which one is fastest. The boys look for a racing car driver (surely there must be one somewhere). They find a truck with ‘Tiff’ written on it, but surely that’s not a racing car driver’s name, is it? (Is this a subtle dig at Fifth Gear?) Eventually, in a smelly, dirty corner, they find a racing car driver. His shoes have holes. His once pristine white suit is filthy. He has his life possessions in a shopping trolley, namely a Daniel Craig mask and a discounted copy of The Man in the White Suit. ‘What should we call him?’ they ask. ‘How about the Stog?’ But it’s decided that he will be called The Ben Collins. The Ben Collins takes the cars around the track while Hammond counts on a stopwatch.
After that, the trio decide they should do some drifting in their cars and see how stylish they are. They will be judged by a group of elegantly dressed men and women. Clarkson does very well. But it’s Hammond that spins out several times, to his anguish. We can hear him yelling in a cloud of smoke until he appears on camera – with the Corvette still spinning out behind him.
In the midst of this, there’s sport. Not just any sport, but Australia vs England (aka the Cr-Ashes, after the cricket game, which nobody professes to know anything about). There’s polo – on motorbikes. (Poor Jezza, he hasn’t learnt too much since the Vietnam trip). Then cricket, with a difference – both the ball and the bat are powered by V8 engines. This was the only place where my seats weren’t excellent, as I think you could see more from the sides. Then after some rugby league vs union vs Aussie Rules football there was a field kick like rugby. The English team chose a V8 supercar to try to ‘kick’ the ball through the goal. The Aussies (somewhat stupidly) chose a Hyundai i20 (proudly sponsored by Budget…if I had to choose a hire car hatch, I would have chosen a Toyota Corolla because it’s much quicker off the mark). Anyway, a few gags about looking for traction control until it was Shane’s turn. Unfortunately, his turn was ruined by a streaker – aka Jeremy in a ‘nude’ i20 (no doors, no windows and a beige colour). Riana then had the last go and nearly managed to write off the i20 with her go due to the slipperiness of the previous burnouts etc from a pair of Toyota F86s.
With an interval for car porn, we were treated to some of the finest cars in Perth that the owners could bear to lend before it was time for a race between James May and a national hockey champion. (But in between, a discussion of the price of the stripes on the Ferrari 458 that James May has just bought – $12000 AUD for the stripes alone!) Captain Slow needed a hand, so he drove a Nissan GTR (and still lost – but extra points for a speedy reverse!) With the Aussies ahead, it was time for the extra points decider – soccer, or football or lacrosse in Reliant Robins. Whatever the game, it was hilarious! Cars flipped, smashed and crashed but ultimately the Aussies were victorious!
On that bombsh- er, note, it was time to farewell our three presenters and their Aussie colleagues. Clarkson, Hammond and May Live was everything I wanted it to be and more – it was funny, appreciative of the time spent on the fictional programme that doesn’t exist and had enough car porn to last some time. The only thing I think it was lacking was explosions, but we did get a lot of smoke and fire! I highly recommend the show to any TG fans and those who want to know what the fuss is about!