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Classic Gear programme

Anyone else see this on Men & Motors last night? Oh dear oh dear, what an inept production. It promised so much and delivered so little.
One presenter seemed to regard the engine sounds of the cars he was driving as their most important feature. Another managed to talk a lot but say nothing of interest despite driving an Aston Martin DB5 on winding mountain roads in the south of France - this culminated in her having a 'race' with a DBS which seemed to be run at about 50 mph with fast editing used to make it seem quicker. Most of the rest of the hour-long programme was taken up with repeated promotions for what was coming up later.
Like a fool I stuck with it hoping that it would improve. I'll never criticise Top Gear again.


Woodspeed    on 2 March 2009

Drooled over the DB5 and E Type, but it was a very cheap prog. Then again it was on M&M which can not attract much advertising revenue. Being a Sky channel it will of course be on another 12 times in the next 3 months!

rtj70    on 2 March 2009

M&M is owned by ITV though. So definitely no money.

Mr X    on 2 March 2009

Non of the current crop of motoring progams do the motorist any credit. They make motorists look like they are interested only in how fast they can go and how quickly they can reach that top speed.
They never touch on motoring laws, car mantainance , or any of the problems that affect the average joe as they try to keep their wheels on the road, safely and legally.

Hammond, Clarkson and the rest of this mottley crew have done naff all to deflect the almost daily criticism of the motorist and their vehicle useage.

daveyjp    on 2 March 2009

For some reason M&M is nestled in the 'God' channels on cable hence it doesn't get visited very often! Sounds like the output hasn't improved much.

The very amateur rally crash programmes were always a good representation of the budget available. Does Dave Winstanley still do programmes for them?

Re wider motoring progs BBC4 are showing Caravans: A British Love Affair.

Excellent archive footage and interesting to see some of the cars towing caravans, most of which weren't 4x4, or diesel or large engined. Austin A30 anyone?

The founder of Sprite caravans is seen towing his latest model up Europe's highest pass in Spring with snow 20 foot high on either side of the pass. The pulling car of choice? A Mini!

boxsterboy    on 2 March 2009

Yes, daveyjp, but that was in the day when caravans were for camping and weighted little more than a matchbox.

Modern caravans with TVs, microwaves, fridges, ovens, central heating, WC, showers, etc. are a completely different kettle of fish. Great programme, though!

Edited by boxsterboy on 02/03/2009 at 13:13

daveyjp    on 2 March 2009

Modern caravans with TVs microwaves fridges ovens central heating WC showers etc. are a completely
different kettle of fish. Great programme though!

One of the larger cars I saw was a Rover P5. My grandfather had one during the 60s to pull a Cheltenham caravan.

This was a seriously well built caravan which needed a 6 cylinder motor up front. I'm trying to get the reg off the car in the programme to see if it was him!

sierraman    on 3 March 2009

'interesting to see some of the cars towing caravans'

Even more so the motorbike,I wonder if it is legal to tow a caravan with a combo these days.

J Bonington Jagworth    on 2 March 2009

"Hammond, Clarkson and the rest of this mottley crew have done naff all to deflect the almost daily criticism of the motorist and their vehicle useage."

Hear, hear! I tried watching Hammond's 'popular science' programme last week, but it's so toe-curlingly contrived that none of my family will watch it again.

Add that to a school curriculum that insists you only need to know what happens and not why, it's no wonder nobody understands how things work any more...

Number_Cruncher    on 2 March 2009

Please forgive the slight tangent;

>>I tried watching Hammond's 'popular science' programme

Yes, it's an example of how we've gone wrong with the teaching of science and engineering.

The currect orthodoxy is to try to make everything exciting and accessible. In my view this hasn't worked, and has only served to prune the more worthwhile parts of the syllabus. So, we end up with science undergraduates who struggle with basic calculus. This is strongly contrasted by those undergraduates who are from Eastern Europe but have chosen to study in the UK - they find maths requirements of degree courses laughably simple.

I would be happier to see engineering and science being dealt with as something which you might only be allowed to do if you demonstrate that you're good enough, that there are serious hurdles in understanding to be overcome, and that achieving an honours degree in a science subject is something about which one could be extremely proud.

The running down of science and engineering, partially by nonsense education policy, and partially by popular coverage, serves no-one well, and in particular, I can't help but feel sorry for current students exposing themselves to serious debt for what has become a devalued qualification.

Sorry about the rant!

Lud    on 2 March 2009

Sorry about the rant!

Doesn't look like a rant to me. More like a series of sober observations that could be applied across the board to all education from nursery to tertiary. Political monkeying is turning us into a nation of smug idiots.

alfalfa    on 2 March 2009

Political monkeying
is turning us into a nation of smug idiots.

Although I agree with almost all that has been said in this thread I don't think the fault lies with the politicians (for once) but with those who commission and produce the programmes. It is assumed that the viewer has a short attention span and cannot deal with anything other than over simplified explanations.

The success of "popular" science books such as Fermat's Last Theorem, The Magic of Primes or Big Bang shows that large numbers of people are prepared to deal with ideas that may be new to them and may be difficult for some. Programmers should try to genuinely educate and inform than than sensationalise and they may be pleasantly surprised.


FocusDriver    on 2 March 2009

Clarkson, Hammond and May aren't there for anything other than entertainment. It's not a motoring consumer programme.

That said, I wonder if there is a market out there big enough to pursuade programme making companies that a serious consumer programme won't be universally avoided. I must say I long for the Top Gear of yesteryear with William Woollard, Peter Burgess, Frank Page and Sue Baker. A different programme entirely with no unnecessary music, and the kind of cars we all buy in the real world.

Like to add to the disappointment with Richard Hammonds show last night. Tennis balls! Come on, I've not tuned in to watch a parallel version of metal detecting...ghastly "baby steps" towards learning and very patronising for 8pm.

Hamsafar    on 2 March 2009

Top Gear is a big-screen equivalent of an expensive coffee-table book. Excellent quality high-budget filming, artistic photography and post-production, and humorous presentation.
If it was about making your tyres last longer and how to wash your car, it would be as dull as ditch-water.

maz64    on 3 March 2009

If it was about making your tyres last longer and how to wash your car
it would be as dull as ditch-water.

Although I can't say I've seen those particular items covered, things like that tend to crop up on 'The One Show', where they mix it in with a variety of perhaps more entertaining other stuff. VBH has done a few items for them.

Mick Snutz    on 2 March 2009

I watched one of those M & M programms about the Auston Healey. I got bored when the camera filmed the wire wheels for 5 seconds too long. I think it's a very poor production.

Regarding the other postings, I agree there is probably a market for a motoring consumer program for 'real people with real cars'. Something like a cross between Watchdog and Top Gear from the 80's but without William Woollards leather elbow patches/Tweed jacket ensemble!

Whilst I enjoy Top Gear for it's entertainment value, the cars they often feature and the capers they get up to are pure fantasy for the rest of us.

AlastairM    on 2 March 2009

Don't have any issues with Top Gear at all, my son and I watch it for the entertainment and that is what it provides.

The need for a good motoring program need'nt call for the removal of programs like TG, after all if you look at the magazine racks you will see both serious and entertainment styled magazines with buyers for both.

There have been a few good programs on, the one that dealt with the rebuilding of the VW Beetle & Camper van spring to mind, really interesting and done over a number of 1/2 hour programs so you get a chance to see a process from start to finish without seeming to rush things to fit into a slot.

Brian Tryzers    on 2 March 2009

>None of the current crop of motoring programmes do the motorist any credit....

Mr X, I wholeheartedly concur. (Or, as they say round here, "Yer not ronngggg.") Top Gear is unwatchably puerile - which is a pity because May and Clarkson can both be engaging presenters - and the others merely imitate it.
The one I miss is the original incarnation of C4's Driven, which was genuinely informative without being dull. Mrs dB and I used to watch it together, which tells you something. That, for one thing, was where I first learned that the rear axle was the place to put new tyres - something all BR contributors now regard as axiomatic.

Lud    on 2 March 2009

the rear axle was the place to put new tyres - something all BR contributors now regard as axiomatic.

Not quite all, WDeB. Some of us are invincibly dumb and stubborn. Or perhaps we just like the braking to be decent on wet roads and have a certain nostalgia for the oversteer that used to make motoring so entertaining.


AlanGowdy    on 2 March 2009

Without wishing to (further) denigrate any current motoring programme, I do think there is room for one that addresses issues that the average motorist encounters daily and can relate to - a bit like the content of Autocar, Auto Express or What Car.

It might be closer to the old Top Gear of Woollard rather than Clarkson but I don't see that this is any reason why it can't be updated and be entertaining too.

Edited by AlanGowdy on 02/03/2009 at 18:25

Mr X    on 2 March 2009

There are undoubtedly presenters out there who could front a more motoring friendly, informative program dealing with the sort of issues that TG ignores. In the present TG, what we have is a celebrity driven program which is little more than an ego trip for some very average presenters who have managed to haul themselves on to the BBC gravy train.

Lud    on 2 March 2009

ego trip for some very average presenters who have managed to haul themselves on to >> the BBC gravy train.

I await with interest your first post lavishing praise on someone, Mr X. You are being a bit ungenerous here. TG is an asset to the BBC, not the other way round.

I wouldn't expect anyone who frequents the back room to seek advice on mundane motoring issues from TV, the gogglebox, the idiots' lantern, the tabloid medium par excellence. I look at TG sometimes in the hope that it will amuse me, or that I will see some fine horseflesh in action.

I find the Cool Wall very dull and irritating but I like watching louche 30-year-old celebs unknown to me trying to drive a boring repmobile quickly. Jeremy Clarkson is good fun and no intellectual slouch, although his pose (for that is what it is) of triumphalist yuppie brutality gets a bit wearing. I like, and even share, his passion for 400hp shopping trolleys and 700hp hairdressers' cars. I hate very much the wanton trashing of old cars regarded as awful, caravans, etc., not for the waste (a drop in the endless ocean of waste) but for the schoolboy meanness.

Lud    on 2 March 2009

I was wrong. Jeremy Clarkson did once do a story on telephone parking (paying for parking by calling a number on your mobile). It was an excellent item. JC concluded that the system didn't work, because he couldn't make it work. I can't either. I suspect no one over about 13 can.

Mr X    on 2 March 2009

No , he didn't. The program's researches did and he just mouthed the results. His journalism skills make our own HJ look like John Pilger.

Lud    on 2 March 2009

His journalism skills make our own HJ look like John Pilger.

Is that what you call praise Mr X?

If I were HJ I would be plotting my revenge at this very moment.

I can see why you might admire the lugubrious and tiresome Pilger though.

FocusDriver    on 2 March 2009

TG is an asset to the BBC, not the other way round.

Quite right M'lud. It still amazes me that the BBC, of all organisations even continues to broadcast this. If you're familiar with the whims of BBC personnel you'll know it goes against the whole grain of liberal left-dom. Top Gear isn't in the script; it survives because it's unassailable Europe-wide.

rtj70    on 2 March 2009

TG makes the BBC (and JC et al) a lot of money. They sell it all over the world. If you don't like it then don't watch it. Many millions do.

I think the old format of TG was good in its time and I watched it in my youth. But a lot of that info can be found via other means when needed.... so times move on.

DP    on 3 March 2009

I could not agree more.

It baffles me that after 12 full series, people are still moaning about the lack of factual content and accurate reviews. It is what it is. Three blokes with brilliant on-screen chemistry, "c**king about" (in their own words) with a car theme. It's good TV, now appreciated by 300 million worldwide.

I think by now it's clear that you simply shouldn't watch it if you don't like it. It's not going to change, and why should it? It's the BBC's most successful series, ever.


mike hannon    on 3 March 2009

Well done, Lud, for keeping alive another Bill Boddyism - except I think he called it 'the fool's lantern'.
Top Gear? Haven't watched it since the days of William Woollard but I saw a snatch on Youtube the other day. More over-paid, puerile nonsense for the undiscriminating. Shame that talented Clarkson chose the money. Although I guess it could be worse - he could have taken one step down and be jumping around in a garish stripey outfit on children's TV.
That Raymond Baxter was good...

AlanGowdy    on 3 March 2009

Top Gear's success means that any other motoring programme entering the fray tends to try to emulate it by ripping it off - imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. There must be many out there, like myself, who would appreciate someone having the guts to produce a more serious and considered (no not boring) look at motoring today.

Edited by AlanGowdy on 03/03/2009 at 10:23

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