If you plan on tuning into James May’s Cars of the People tonight, make sure you listen closely. You see, among his fascinating facts about the history of the automobile, the presenter slips in a Top Gear gag.
You remember Top Gear? The BBC car magazine series that was enormously popular until Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous “fracas” led to his very public firing and the show’s reinvention under Chris Evans. Clarkson, May and their co-star Richard Hammond have since signed a lucrative deal to make a new car series with Amazon – but May couldn’t resist a reference to his days on Top Gear while driving around Oxford in a Morris Minor.
It’s the Minor that leads him to his quip, as he contemplates a future without the iconic British car.
“Rather in the way that the [Citroën] 2CV symbolises everything about the condition of being French, the Morris Minor has come to be regarded as everything that is good and proper about being British,” he explains.
“Let’s imagine for a moment that overnight the Morris Minor suddenly disappeared from the British conscience. Would it matter? I think we would struggle with it. If you did a survey: should we get rid of the Morris Minor? ‘NO!’
He continues: “But actually, would we really notice? Would it in fact give us a chance to move on? It might be a little bit as if a very popular and well-liked television programme suddenly came to an end. Everybody would think it was a disaster. But after a while, they’d get over it. Probably find something else.”
May’s probably hoping that “something else” includes Cars of the People which airs tonight at 9pm on BBC2