REVIEW: Off-Road with Clarkson, Hammond and May by Phillipa Sage

In brief: An insight into the Top Gear stage shows and the crazy events and excess.

The good: A backstage look at what went on during multiple tours.

The not-so-good: Maybe I didn’t need to know what went on backstage…

Why I chose it: Really enjoyed Top Gear and went to the live shows twice.

Year: 2021

Pages: 271

Publisher: Ad Lib

Setting: The world…

Rating: 6 out of 10

As a big fan of Clarkson, Hammond and May and their work, solo or together, this is a book I had to read. The Top Gear / Clarkson, Hammond and May live shows came to my hometown twice and I saw them both times (once even meeting James May). What happened behind the scenes? Any gossip?

Well, the two shows I attended didn’t rate a mention first time round and barely a mention of the second. By the end of the book, I realised that this was a good thing. And I’m sorry that the boys didn’t like doing media or promotion but they made my day, week, month and year when I got to listen to them.

This is a story of ‘The Bubble’, which the author was part of, as the PA for the trio from the first shows in the UK through to the final non-Top Gear branded tour prior to the start of The Grand Tour. It’s an awkward read for several reasons – one, reading about people you’ve looked up to behaving badly and two, it needs a big edit and proof. The live shows were completely separate to the TV show and had a much bigger budget and therefore opportunity for good food, drink and fun. I don’t begrudge the trip any of that, as it’s clear that they worked hard on many different projects to make millions of people happy. For the most part, the excesses were relatively harmless. But there are some uncomfortable parts of ‘diva like’ behaviour (that seems to have been reined in later on). But there was only so much I could read of getting drunk, being hungover and repeat with a few demands thrown in. It would have been great if there had been less of that and more unique stories. As for the writing, it’s quite repetitive at times and it seems like the author needed to justify to the reader multiple times her role within the group and changing status from colleague to girlfriend. There are also multiple typos and changing of the spelling of people’s names (e.g., Denzel turns to Denzil and then back again), which I found irritating.

There were some interesting insights, but in the end, this isn’t my favourite Top Gear book and it’s not because of the excesses described. It’s a hard book to pick up after putting down as the writing style really isn’t engaging and what’s described is rather repetitive.

One thought on “REVIEW: Off-Road with Clarkson, Hammond and May by Phillipa Sage

Add yours

I enjoy reading your comments! Thanks for stopping by.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: