Top Gear began life as a car reviewing show in 1977, but has since grown into something far greater with celebrity races, comedy challenges and at times, controversial content.
After its original run in the Seventies, the show was revived in 2002 by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman. After his dismissal from the BBC, Clarkson partnered with long-time co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond to create a similar show, The Grand Tour, on Amazon Prime, while Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc took over on Top Gear.
Created by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman, the 2002 incarnation explores the motoring world with wit and eccentricity. Its imaginative vehicle reviewing methods have included racing inside a shopping centre and testing the off-road smoothness of a car by how easy it is to tattoo a passenger in the back seat.
Who presents Top Gear?
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in The Grand Tour studio tent (Amazon, JG)
While those shakily inked tattoos are (unfortunately) permanent, the cast of the show is not. There have been over 10 presenters of the show with the first season in 2002 presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe, with James May replacing Dawe for season two. They remained together until 2015 when Clarkson was dismissed from the show. After this controversy, Hammond and May quit and joined Clarkson in creating Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour.
Top Gear, BBC Worldwide publicity still, BD
Top Gear continued with a 23 series presented by Chris Evans and Friends star Matt LeBlanc, but it was poorly received. After Evans’ resignation, presenters have included Chris Harris, Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Eddie Jordan, and most recently Andrew Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness.
According to a Radio Times poll, Clarkson is the best Top Gear presenter of all time, with co-hosts May and Hammond coming second and third – it seems that despite the controversy that surrounded their relationship with the BBC, fans remain loyal to the trio.
The test track for Top Gear is at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, while other parts of the series have been filmed on roads all around the world, from the UK to Australia.
Who is The Stig?
The Stig, a mysterious racing driver who sets lap times, is meant to be anonymous, but his identity has been exposed twice. The original black-suited Stig was revealed to be Perry McCarthy in 2003, and following this leak, he was replaced by a white-suited Ben Collins. After a court case concerning Collins’ autobiography that revealed his identity as the Stig, he was replaced in 2010. The Stig’s current identity is unknown.