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[08/07/07 - 06:03 PM]
BBC America Takes Viewers on the Ride of Their Lives with the Uk's Premiere Motor Show, Top Gear
"Top Gear" episodes will premiere every Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT beginning on Monday, August 20 with a two episode premiere special.

[via press release from BBC America]

BBC AMERICA TAKES VIEWERS ON THE RIDE OF THEIR LIVES WITH THE UK'S PREMIERE MOTOR SHOW, TOP GEAR

BBC AMERICA presents one of the UK's most popular all-time television franchises. Irreverent, witty and refreshingly honest, the award-winning Top Gear is a motor show like no other. Top Gear episodes will premiere every Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT beginning on Monday, August 20 with a two episode premiere special.

Featuring super-cars, stunts, time trials and road tests, each week Top Gear assesses the performance of some of the most desirable cars around. But it is the sharp wit of its presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May that makes Top Gear more than just a motor show.

Led by Jeremy, the Top Gear team take cars to the limit and beyond to find out if they're as good as their manufacturers claim. Full of stunts, challenges and special features, Top Gear is exciting, inclusive and passionate � there are no boring stats and impenetrable conversations about camshafts and tire pressures. Instead, Top Gear accelerates away from the competition with authoritative information, entertainment and bags of style.

One of the most successful and interesting phenomenon's on UK television, Top Gear defies traditional notions of programming genre. Part factual and part entertainment, the Emmy�-winning car show doesn't fit into any standard category. As well as test drives and car trials on location, Top Gear features a live studio audience, star guests and celebrities driving decidedly non-celebrity cars. Famous names appearing this season include actors Ewan McGregor, Ray Winstone and Sir Michael Gambon as well as celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

Top Gear has become a global phenomenon, attracting huge audiences in the UK and reaching 150 million homes worldwide.

BBC AMERICA brings audiences a new generation of award-winning television featuring razor-sharp comedies, provocative dramas, life-changing makeovers and news with a uniquely global perspective. BBC AMERICA pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highly addictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demand more. BBC AMERICA is distributed by Discovery Networks. It is available on digital cable and satellite TV. For more information about BBC AMERICA visit www.bbcamerica.com

WHAT THE BRITISH PRESS SAID:

"Marvellous...Wittily scripted, this is easily the best motoring programme on television." The Observer

"...the reason that someone as utterly uninterested in cars as me watched Top Gear is because the presenter is Jeremy Clarkson...he has now fashioned around himself a hugely entertaining format in which reportage on new motors offers free rein to his prejudices and observations." The Financial Times

"Ah, the joys of Jeremy Clarkson - plump and permed and acid-tongued - purveying his priceless wit and expertise on our screens. Seriously, the new format of the show works well." The Observer

"It is good to see Top Gear back on TV, with our own Jeremy Clarkson as controversial as ever...The new studio-based format is great..." The Sun

"Clarkson is good value...He has dragged auto journalism out of its anoracky backwater, and his clear, often controversial opinions about cars are expressed pithily...No self-respecting TV motor journalist can now hope to get by without adopting his hard-boiled style." The Independent

MEET THE PRESENTERS

Jeremy Clarkson

An acclaimed broadcaster and journalist, Jeremy Clarkson has hosted Top Gear since 1988. Born in the decade of the hippy, Jeremy has shunned free love and peace, preferring instead to drive around corners very fast, yelling "POWER" at the top of his lungs.

Jeremy has been accused of some amazing things in his time, including destroying a mountain, destroying the environment and destroying Rover cars. In his defence, the mountain is still there, we can all still breathe and Rover would still be here if their management hadn't been so terrible.

James May

When James was first introduced on Top Gear, Jeremy claimed he was �clearly a blithering idiot'. The reasoning behind this slightly harsh critique was that James' car at the time was a Bentley T2. His first film on Top Gear was him telling people how great it is to own a 25-year-old classic luxury car, while at the same time admitting it cost a small fortune to run and fuel.

James admits he was once fired from a job with a well known magazine for putting a secret message in a supplement. It's exactly this kind of fooling around that makes him perfect for the UK's favorite motor show. James also has his own pilot's licence, which has come in handy on Top Gear once already (although it would help if he was allowed to fly at night).

Richard Hammond

Affectionately known as Hamster, Richard Hammond is one of the UK's most popular broadcasters. He began his career at BBC local radio and first graced British TV screens on cable channel, Men & Motors. He proceeded to work on a number of different motoring and lifestyle programs on cable before realizing his dream of presenting Top Gear in 2002. Earlier this year Richard hit the news headlines when he was involved in a serious accident crashing a jet powered car while filming Top Gear.

A versatile presenter, Richard has hosted TV shows from a variety of genres including science and nature, children's and sci-fi. Women the world over adore him, something about his puppy dog eyes, and wanting to protect him from the nasty Mr. Clarkson. Richard's hobbies include buying hopeless cars and attempting to restore them.

EPISODES ONE AND TWO

Episode one

The Top Gear presenters start the season with a world first and attempt to turn a minivan into a convertible. Each presenter road tests a car; Jeremy Clarkson goes wild in the new Koenigsegg, James May enjoys a new Honda and Richard Hammond doesn't enjoy the Micra C+C � at all.

The Swedish are a crazy bunch and, it seems, not afraid of dying. If they had the normal human self-preservation instinct, why on earth would they create a car as wildly insane as the Koenigsegg CCX? Like the CCR, it's the vehicle most likely to try to see you off to an early, but very rock and roll, grave.

Top Gear attempts to turn a boring minivan into a fashionable �drop top', by putting a working convertible roof on an ageing Renault Espace. Removal of the roof is a complete success � construction of a new one less so. It proves that trying to make your own convertible is a bit like trying to cut your own hair. You can do it, but you probably shouldn't.

Owning a Honda used to be as much a part of old age as incontinence and nose hair. But, with the new Civic, it looks like Honda employed a designer to create funky tweaks to scare off the older generation. The door handles look like rocket ships and the dashboard is a sci-fi fan's wet dream. Looks like granny and grandpa are actually going to have to start using their free bus-passes.

Premieres Monday, August 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode two

Top Gear takes a road trip to Iceland where Richard hits an iceberg, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay sets a track record for swearing, and an entire radio station is ruined.

Normally, the idea of an American sports car that actually handles properly has most European car fans laughing into their Lotuses. But Chevrolet has a new track-honed card up its sleeve in the shape of the new Corvette Z06. The ride is awful, the engine sounds like it is fuelled by spanners, it shakes your bones to dust, and the gear-change is like a Victorian signal box. But it absolutely smokes the Ferrari 575M round the test track, and costs half the amount. Yeehaw! indeed.

Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsay swears his way round the track and manages to set both the fastest and rudest lap ever. The team discovers the gorgeous new Jaguar XK Coup� is not at its best on ice and they will have to wait to get it on good old-fashioned asphalt before making an informed decision.

The problem with canoes or kayaks is they don't have engines and are therefore of limited interest to Top Gear. However, one man's unique vision has changed all that, because he has fitted his kayak with a jet turbine. Even Richard's crazy off-road racer cannot keep up.

Also on tonight's show Jeremy, Richard and James take over a BBC radio studio for a couple of hours to present a drivetime radio show.

Premieres Monday, August 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

PREMIERE SEASON HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

� Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay swears his way around the Top Gear track and manages to set both the fastest and rudest lap ever.

� In a whole show based in the U.S., the team embark on a huge inter-state road trip.

� In one of the most spectacular challenges yet, Richard Hammond travels to Cyprus where he pits the new Porshe Cayenne Turbo S against the British Royal Air Force's free fall parachute display team, The Red Devils.

� The boys try to answer one of the world's great unanswered questions: is it possible to build a truly amphibious car that works as well on water as it does on land?

� After crashing a jet-car at 228 mph in a much publicized accident, a fully-mended Richard Hammond talks about his terrifying experience.

� Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attempts to knock rival chef Gordon Ramsay off the top spot � and fails.

� At the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, each of the presenters has just a few minutes to persuade a panel of arty professors that their car deserves a place on a plinth in the museum.

30 YEARS OF TOP GEAR

1977

Top Gear begins as a local show on BBC Midlands. It's a sensible program about cars and road safety issues.

1978

A year later, it moves to national TV.

1988

Jeremy Clarkson arrives and the show gets more controversial � and more interesting. Viewing figures start to climb as a direct result of the "Tall One".

1995

Jeremy slates the new Vauxhall Vectra and causes workers at a UK factory to stage a walkout.

1999

Clarkson leaves Top Gear and audience figures drop to less than a million. The BBC later takes the program off air to review the format.

2002

Jeremy makes a comeback and a reinvented Top Gear returns, this time with an entertainment focus � a live studio audience. It's a huge success.

2005

Top Gear gets a mild revamp and a new studio, but the winning format is unchanged. UK audience reaches more than five million.

2007

Thirty years on and Top Gear returns for a new series after Richard Hammond was involved in an accident � UK audience figures reach a record 8.6 million viewers.

ANDY WILMAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, EXPLAINS THE TOP GEAR PHENOMENON

On Top Gear's genre defying format:

Top Gear: Factual or entertainment? Niche market or mainstream? Fact is, not even the BBC knows quite where to file its category-busting, top-rating, Emmy winning, err, car show. Andy Wilman:

"Oh yes, it's definitely odd. The world's biggest TV show used to be about pneumatic blondes running through surf in slo-mo. Then it was six good-looking mates who did nothing, but drink coffee and have really nice hair. Now, weirdly, one of the world's most popular programs is nothing more than three slightly scruffy, out-of-shape, normal blokes mucking around in cars. And they all have terrible hair."

On moving with the times:

Top Gear was a BBC staple for over 30 years. Earnest men, and women, would stand around at grey, damp test tracks (test tracks are always grey and damp � in the UK most are in facilities that were used for World War 2 flight operations) and talk, earnestly, about a new car's fuel consumption, luggage space and its safety before linking to another earnest presenter who would talk, earnestly, about the next new car's fuel consumption...You get the picture. Andy Wilman:

"We just wanted to take the normal car show format, the men with beards going on about trunk space or economy, and run it over with a large truck. Most people don't give a stuff about how easy it is to find the hood release in a new Ford, so why not make a car show that celebrates cars for being fun and exciting and sexy?"

On the secret of Top Gear's success:

The three hosts banter, bicker, and regularly forget that they're meant to be testing cars and instead spend five minutes laughing at each other's choice of shoes, but most of all they come up with the craziest ideas and no one ever thinks to stop them. Among the burning issues that Top Gear has tackled recently are questions like �Can you build your own amphibious car?' or �Can you buy an old supercar for less than the price of a small hatchback?' or �Can a stretched limousine jump over a wedding?' Andy Wilman:

"Those are the kind of issues that Top Gear tackles. It's the show that says, we could show how agile this new sports saloon is with some complicated graphs and science charts. Or we could use it to race two adrenaline-crazed free climbers to the top of a massive French gorge because actually that would be a lot more interesting and probably quite funny. Turns out, it was."





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· TOP GEAR (BBC AMERICA)





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