Top Gear: 10 of the best celebrity guests

From Simon Cowell to Helen Mirren, famous names take on the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge with varying results...

Top Gear: 10 of the best celebrity guests
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Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are back with a brand new series of Top Gear this Sunday.

The guys will probably do something awful to a poor defenceless caravan. And race vehicles built from lawnmower parts. And of course more celebrities will be jumping behind the wheel of the show’s reasonably priced car in an attempt to record the fastest time.

It’s not always a smooth ride, as these previous guests prove…

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz (2010)

Hollywood actor Tom Cruise tries to cross the line on two wheels. Actress Cameron Diaz tops the leader board… then seconds later Cruise beats her time. Jeremy gets a hug and then another hug from Cameron Diaz. It's all going on. 

Benedict Cumberbatch (2013)

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch gives a jokey explanation of how the detective survived the famous fall, punches Jeremy Clarkson using ‘Hollywood Fu’ techniques and gets in a muddle trying to explain the cars he’s had over the years. This is all before Cumberbatch takes to the track where he completes the most practice laps of anybody. 

Michael Gambon (2002)

Actor Michael Gambon (the man behind Harry Potter's Albus Dumbledore, among others) gets a corner of the track named after him for lifting the car off its wheels. It's not actually as dramatic looking as Tom Cruise’s efforts, though – someone call his agent!

Ian Wright (2005)

Football star Ian Wright screams, screams and screams a bit more as he heads around the Top Gear track. “I’ve never seen anyone so aggressive, EVER” says Clarkson who hides his face in his hands yelling, “You’re a lunatic!”

Simon Cowell (2007)

Music mogul Simon Cowell returns for another spin on the track saying it’s the worst car he’s ever driven. “Is that good?” he asks Clarkson, as they re-watch his timed lap. Cowell tries to look relaxed – arm on the window and all that. But Cowell does the typical Top Gear lean, eagerly looking at the leaderboard, clearly quite keen to know his time. “Just tell me,” Cowell pleads. “That’s fantastic,” he says as he sees his name at the top. 

Lewis Hamilton (2008)

Even world-class racing drivers can’t resist the lure of the Top Gear track. The formula one star took on The Stig’s own time, as well as a bunch of other F1 drivers. Hamilton admits, “I’m actually a bit nervous about this…. no honestly, I’m here to have fun.” Yeah, yeah, Lewis, sportsmen LOVE losing. 

Geri Halliwell (2004)

“How did you get a scratch on the roof?!” an incredulous Clarkson asks former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, before letting her loose on the track. There are aggressive gear changes, rather a lot of speed and eventually a safe journey across the line, with a time just above Boris Johnson – who Gerry appears never to have heard of...

Jimmy Carr (2004)

Comedian Jimmy Carr captures the attention of The Stig for “dicking about” in training as Clarkson puts it. Plus he makes friends with the camera crew who ask to stand back a bit while he’s doing his practice laps… Yet Carr still manages to topple Simon Cowell to become the fastest celebrity around the track. 

Helen Mirren (2007)

“It was terrifying, it was sweat-making, it was… fabulous,” says Mirren of her drive. The Oscar-winning actress does most of the lap saying “slower… harder” to herself. And swearing, she admits, although that was rather sweetly left out of the video...

Gordon Ramsay (2002)

Chef Gordon Ramsay samples some food that was cooked on the engine of a car before taking to the track – with only one beep for his language. That’s a triumph in itself, no? 

Top Gear returns this Sunday at 8:00pm on BBC2 with Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville taking to the track