In brief: This is the story of Top Gear, as told by the script editor, from the ‘old’ days to the crazy heights and sudden ending of the show as millions of viewers knew it.
The good: It’s an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the show.
The not-so-good: The ending. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it still hurt as much as the first time.
Why I chose it: I am a big Top Gear fan (as in my selfie with James May has pride of place in my office). Thanks to Hachette for indulging me.
Publisher: Orion (Hachette)
Setting: The world (said in Clarkson’s voice)
My rating: 10 out of 10
I am a stark raving mad Top Gear / Clarkson, Hammond and May fan as evidenced in many previous reviews and blog posts. Well, perhaps not totally. I don’t own every single DVD and book, I find Top Gear magazine a bit boring and I haven’t seen every episode 10 times. I have however, run after Jeremy Clarkson (I couldn’t catch him – he’s tall and I’m not that fast in heels) and searched out Hammond (couldn’t find him in a crowded room, we’re about the same height). I have met James May who is delightful (and obviously easy to find for short girls in high heels). One other thing I do love is the Top Gear books for kids, which are usually crazily funny. They’re often written by a fellow by the name of Richard Porter, who was the script editor for Top Gear from the old days (i.e. pre Hammond and May) until the bitter end. When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. I gulped this book down shortly after opening the parcel. It is THE book for the Top Gear fan. It contains titbits that will delight the hard-core fan (such as what happened to Top Gear Dog) and the person who just happens to hang around the TV when the show is on (what did happen to the cool wall?).
The story starts at the beginning when Top Gear was a UK ritual but on a small scale – it was a serious show with a revolving panel of presenters. Then enter some bloke called Jeremy Clarkson, who started to make things a bit more interesting. Then the show disappeared from screens, leaving the young Richard Porter without a job. He decided to start a motoring website that was tongue-in-cheek (Sniff Petrol, which is hilarious) and was later approached by Clarkson and Andy to help build a new Top Gear. The book then moves on to the first series of ‘new’ Top Gear, which was fraught with issues and dodgy BBC offices. The team aimed high and with some juggling, came back to start series 2 with a different third presenter called James May and the motoring programme went from good to bloody fantastic as we all know.
There is also background details on the ‘specials’ (yes, that number plate was an accident). I was surprised to read of Porter’s dislike for the India special, which I quite enjoyed (yes, it’s silly but it’s also very funny). How did they choose where to go? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out. Porter also questions whether Top Gear jumped the shark (this always seems to be topic of hotly contested debate on any of the forums) and gives examples where that might nearly have happened. He also explains how you can’t make any form of television that doesn’t have some form of script. Plus, there’s also how you call up companies and ask to borrow a car – it was very funny to see the different responses as the show progressed.
And on That Bombshell will delight all Top Gear fans. It would also be a pretty nifty Christmas present for the fan in your house, as everybody else would pick it up for a read and then want to watch all the series all over again. It would entertain bookworms to the casual reader, plus there’s some great behind the scenes photos. If you consider yourself a fan, or have voted for Clarkson/Hammond/May in a ‘weird crush’ poll (all of them have won this title once), or just want to keep your dad out of the kitchen this Christmas, buy this book. You will not be disappointed!