Five of the best Top Gear specials
If you’re a petrol head, there is a big chance you’re into Top Gear, the show that takes cars from up and down the price spectrum and tests whether they live up to the hype. This involves a variety of stunts and challenges, some of the best featuring in The Specials. Here are our top five:
1. Winter Olympics
The very first in the series, the Winter Olympics special, was broadcast in February 2006 and drew an audience of 5 million fans. Was it worth the watch? Most definitely! The whole gang (Clarkson, Hammond and May) travelled to Lillehammer in Norway to reinvent the Winter Olympics Top Gear style.
What does that actually mean? Winter Olympic sports adapted to be played using cars of course! The memorable punishment for losing? Eating yellow snow. We especially loved the nod to Abba at the end, with names changed to Björn Clarkson, Benny Hamond and Agnetha May.
This time the crew head over to the land of opportunity to ascertain whether it is actually cheaper to buy a car for exploring the states, rather than renting one. The challenge was to get from Miami to New Orleans, then sell the cars back. The presenter with the most money won.
After touching down in Miami, Clarkson, Hammond and May were given $1000 each to purchase a car for their adventure. Hilarity soon ensured when the trio discovered the market for used cars at that price point left a lot to be desired. Clarkson ended up with a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro RD, Hammond Dodge Ram pick-up truck from the same era and May a suitably retro 1989 Cadillac Brougham.
How did it end? Pretty sweetly, for a change! After arriving in New Orleans the team witnessed the damage Hurricane Katrina has caused a year earlier, and they decided to give away the cars to a Christian charity. Nevertheless, Clarkson declared May the loser after he failed to find any claimants for his car. They summarised that it was feasible to buy rather than rent and concluded: “Don’t go to America!”
3. Middle East
Aired as one of two Christmas specials in 2010, the Middle East special saw Clarkson, Hammond and May retrace the steps of the three wise men on their journey to Bethlehem in Israel. How festive!
Each member of the team was given £3,500 and the instructions to buy a second hand two-door convertible sports car. They and their newly acquired vehicles were then shipped to the starting point, without any clue as to where they actually were. Upon arrival, they learn they are in Iraq and are given bullet proof vests and a helmet.
The following journey is full of ups and downs, a particular low point when they find out they have to revise their route as “for political reasons, the BBC is not allowed into Iran”. The final stretch to Bethlehem goes without a hiccup (save May breaking Clarkson’s hubble pipe). The trio spot a peculiar beam of light in the distance, after following it they arrive at a stable where they find out Jesus is actually a baby stig!
This episode showcased an epic race between the team to the 1996 magnetic north pole. The project was coordinated with Toyota and Top Gear and utilised the help of an Icelandic vehicle modification company.
The challenge involved Clarkson and May in a car, racing against Hammond on a dog sled along with driver Matty McNair. Unsurprisingly, Clarkson and May were the first to finish and declared the first to do so in a car! There was a bit of controversy when people spotted Clarkson drinking a G&T whilst driving, despite his claim that he was in fact sailing, as it was frozen water. The BBC Trust concluded that his antics may glamorise the misuse of alcohol and it wasn’t appropriate pre-watershed. Oops!
This special involved the team taking a route across India. The mission of the episode was to promote Britain to India, which the producers organised in a very amusing manner!
The opening of the special shows the Top Gear team in Downing Street reading a letter from David Cameron which refuses their request to go to India on a trade mission. Cameron does a quick cameo which is broadcast, in which he tells them to “Stay away from India!” Unsurprisingly, the team decide to go anyway.
There were three challenges. The last was held in Delhi where they were tasked with holding a trade fair in the embassy quarter of Chanakyapuri. This goes disastrously wrong when a firework, set up by Clarkson, explodes into the building where the fair was hosted and as a result
published: 10/03/2015 09:05:44