Request Blog 2 of 2: Top Gear for [personal profile] el_staplador

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 01:52 pm
miss_s_b: (TG: Arse)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Yesterday I offered a sweepstake: the person who won could ask me to write 500 words on a topic of their choice. As it happens two people said exactly the same answer, so here is entry two of two. Kathleen asked me to write 500 words on “Top Gear lineups - past, actual, potential, ideal”


The news today makes this a little easier; I have struggled to keep it near 500 words as it is.

I’ve always loved Top Gear; I’m reasonably sure I watched it from birth. Angela Rippon is the first TG presenter I really remember, but I as I grew I developed soft spots for Quentin Willson’s eyebrow and the amazing Vicki Butler-Henderson. When it was reborn under the aegis of the brash-but-funny Clarkson in 2002 I mourned that they’d got rid of the large roster of presenters in favour of just three, but figured I’d give it a go. I didn’t like the initial lineup of the Clarkson series - the guy they’d got to fill Quentin Willson’s role as secondhand car expert really didn’t work, and it was all very stilted. You could see they were trying to up the comedy content, but for whatever reason it wasn’t quite working.

For series two, they brought in James May and the magic happened. Clarkson, Hammond and May are the testosterone-laden equivalent of Maiden, Mother and Crone: Young Risk Addict, Geek, and Middle-Aged Boorish Twat. I don’t like everything they did, I didn’t like all the jokes, especially not the racist/sexist ones, but they always made clear you were supposed to laugh AT the Middle-Aged Boorish Twat, that it was a persona, the real Clarkson ramped up to 11 and with all the safeties off… and thus I felt quite comfortable watching TG and even participating in online fandom because it wasn’t real. Every time Clarkson appeared on QI or HIGNFY, or did his occasional forays into WWII on BBC4, he showed that the Middle-Aged Boorish Twat was merely persona, Sun columns nothwithstanding.

Then he assaulted an underling for not getting him the food he wanted. And I felt a lot less comfortable… I think the beeb did the right thing in sacking him, and every pronouncement he has made since they sacked him (especially about transfolk) has only confirmed me in that view. I am sad that the other two decided to go with him, but not really surprised. They do work as a trio.

As for the new lineup? It does rather look like someone has been ticking boxes. Three middle-aged white guys (one ginger), two foreigners, one black guy, one woman… Plus The Stig, who is Schroedinger’s Diversity tickybox - the pose they hold in the photo of the team released today makes it impossible to even guess at gender, never mind race, sexuality, and so on. I’m glad they’ve confirmed Sabine, and am amused that the best actual driver (bar Stiggy) on the new show is going to be Smurfette the woman presenter, but I can’t bear Chris Evans or that tosser from Friends… But then Clarkson’s persona often rubbed me up the wrong way and the show as a whole still worked, albeit with him in the role of pantomime villain in my headcanon. I’m willing to give it a chance.

My ideal lineup?

Vicki Butler-Henderson, Suzi Perry and Sabine treating James May as the Smurfette would suit me.


I've gone slightly over word count at 521 there, but I hope you can forgive me.

Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2016 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
TWO NON UK PRESENTERS. ONE LADY PRESENTERS. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. PLAYER LEVEL UP.

Apropos of nothing, I've not watched Scott Pilgrim in years.

Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2016 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] newandrewhickey.livejournal.com
I saw that photo and thought "that looks like they've got the bloke out of Friends in. Wonder who it is really?" -- it wasn't until I read this that I realised it really was him. How odd.

Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2016 06:19 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
From what I remember, they could film an entire series of "race the classic supercar" with just his car collection, he's a massive petrolhead and was on the show the first time at his request because he really wanted to do it, and he's still one of the fastest laptimes or something.

So yeah, weird choice but it might just work and it'll help overseas sales a bit.

Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2016 09:52 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Also, he was fantastic playing a Middle-Aged Boorish Twat persona in "Episodes", and clearly knows how to send himself up.

Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC)
el_staplador: (Default)
From: [personal profile] el_staplador
*forgives you*

And thank you! Yes, 'tick-box' was my first thought on seeing the photo today. It looked so much like a stock 'diversity' photo (apart from the Stig, I suppose) that I laughed.

Date: Friday, February 12th, 2016 11:58 am (UTC)
el_staplador: (Default)
From: [personal profile] el_staplador
Also, wow, James May looks young in your icon.

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