Sunday 4 December 2016

Top Gear's back in blaze of glory

High-octane thrills in store -- and new Stig

Gerry McCarthy

Published 15/11/2010 | 05:00

A scene involved a burning rally car from the new 'Top Gear' live show
A scene involved a burning rally car from the new 'Top Gear' live show
Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson interact with the audience
Presenter James May in a 'car' made from old washing machines

Fast cars, bizarre stunts -- and a clue as to how 'Top Gear' intends to replace the Stig on its forthcoming new TV run.

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The Irish Independent yesterday got a sneak preview of what the punters can expect when the latest version of the live 'Top Gear' show rolls into Citywest in Dublin later this month.

Amid burning rally cars and cars doing loop-the-loops, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May engaged in their by now familiar banter with each other -- and with the crowd -- at Birmingham's NEC Arena. The presenters claim this year's show is the "most ambitious and most hi-tech" ever. They have employed 3D architectural mapping to create backdrops that make you feel as though you're on a movie set.

But despite this, the basic ingredients -- screeching tyres, loud music, sensational stunts and car football -- remain more or less the same.

The show does give an insight as to how the team will replace the Stig -- the hired gun driver who tests the world's best supercars -- when a new series of 'Top Gear' begins broadcasting from December.

The previous Stig, racing driver Ben Collins, was fired by the BBC when he revealed his identity in an autobiography.

The live show features a humorous filmed sequence in which the 'Top Gear' presenters reveal how they intend to hire a new Stig and restore the sense of mystery surrounding his identity. It also leaves open the possibility of using several different people in the role.

Meanwhile, whereas the Birmingham shows featured just the live performance and an exhibition of supercars and vintage models, organisers have promised a lot more at the three-day Citywest festival. The event will include a purpose-built outdoor racing track, on which some of Ireland's best-known rally drivers will race against each other.

Presenter James May said he would also like to "do something with the Ford Escort Mk1" which was by far the biggest selling car in this country through the 1970s.

May, along with Clarkson and Hammond, are on record as saying how much they love playing to Irish audiences and "letting off steam" in Dublin.

And May was also quick to scotch rumours that he might be tiring of the TV show after eight years. In a recent interview for the 'Radio Times', he lamented that the series was no longer really about cars, and had become more of a sitcom.

"I was misquoted on that," he said. "In fact, in the new TV series, we retreat more towards purely motoring features, but we still have a lot of fun."

The eight shows at Citywest will take place over three days from November 26-28 and ticket prices start from €59.

Irish Independent

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