Zut alors! The UK version of Top Gear may have poked fun at the French many times over the years, but that has not stopped our Gallic friends from coming up with their own version of the series.
In fact, the BBC has every confidence that the French will take to the show when it is remade with its own versions of the three lead presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
And all this despite the rudeness that the original show has shown to our friends across the channel. You may recall the idea of going to war with France once causing James May to smile (see the clip below). Or Clarkson being rude about France’s premier car brand Renault, once saying that describing the Renault Espace as one of the best people carriers was “like saying ‘I’ve got syphilis, the BEST of the sexually transmitted diseases’”.
But now all appears to have been forgiven. The French series will be produced by BBC Worldwide France and is due to start filming later this year. It will air on RMC Découverte in France in 2015.
The local format of Top Gear will include many elements already familiar to UK fans with some “added French twists”, according to the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide which licences the show. The presenters will be announced in due course.
RMC Découverte already broadcasts the original UK version of Top Gear – which is its highest rated programme ever – as well as Top Gear USA.
Adam Waddell, director of entertainment brands BBC Worldwide, said: “The French have some amazing roads and incredible scenery which is why Top Gear UK has often filmed there. Now French petrol heads are going to have their own version of the programme and I have no doubt that the hosts will bring their own personality and sense of humour to the new show. I can’t wait to watch it develop.”
Jean Louis Blot, executive managing director, production, BBC Worldwide France added: “Top Gear has become a global phenomenon and is without a doubt, the biggest motoring TV programme in the world. The success of the UK series on RMC Découverte played a big part in securing this commission.”
Local versions of Top Gear already air in South Korea, Australia and Russia as well as the USA and there will be a Chinese version launching later this year.
Other British formats to travel successfully across the Channel include Dancing with the Stars, The Great Bake Off, Sewing Bee, The Weakest Link and most recently, Antiques Roadshow.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.