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Jane Garvey gives her verdict on Top Gear

With the penultimate episode of the iconic motoring show airing this weekend, Jane Garvey reveals what she thinks about the latest season.

Top Gear 2022
BBC
Published: Sunday, 3rd July 2022 at 8:00 am
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In the latest issue of Radio Times magazine, broadcaster and Radio Times Podcast host Jane Garvey shares her thoughts on the long-running BBC motoring show.

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Top Gear is nearing the end of its 32nd series. That’s a lot of series. The presenting line-up these days lacks anyone as magnificently irritating as Jeremy Clarkson, though they give it a good go. Paddy McGuinness supplies what passes for energy, Freddie Flintoff the derring-do and journalist Chris Harris the genuine expertise. Harris has the air of a benevolent prefect tasked with amusing a pair of giant toddlers over a long weekend. Though sometimes, Christopher, you allow Patrick and Andrew to lower your own high standards!

It’s a long old hour on a Sunday on BBC One. All right, I suspect this show isn’t aimed at me. I am a car owner, though perhaps I should out myself as someone who once bought two consecutive Fiat Pandas. And not many petrolheads would boast about that. I was no stranger to the hard shoulder, let’s put it that way. My current car is silver, has wheels and it starts, and I enjoy sitting in a tailback on the way to B&Q listening to the Eagles on Magic FM as much as the next person. But there my interest in cars ends.

For such freewheelin’ fellas, they may want to rethink the way Top Gear starts – a crowd in very thick anoraks and bobble hats (when was this filmed?) clap away dutifully outside TV Centre as the hosts plod through a clunking, faintly punny introduction. Freddie Flintoff makes a reference to a “big innings”. Ho hum.

Top Gear hosts in RV (BBC)
Top Gear hosts in RV (BBC)

Things improve when we leave the UK behind, and get racing in the Florida sunshine. We’re expected to believe that Paddy personally ordered a beaten-up Rambler motorhome as their vehicle of choice. If you say so. Though I expect the producers may have had something to do with it. There’s a marginal amount of jeopardy as they cross the Everglades in fear of alligator attack. I think we all know that if they had been the unfortunate victims of a violent assault by giant reptile, we’d already have heard about it.

Then Freddie seems nervous when Chris says he sleeps in the buff. We don’t hear any more about that, sadly. Next thing we know it’s morning and the lads are in pastel jackets as a tribute to Crockett and Tubbs of Miami Vice.

Chris sustains an injury during a game of Frisbee. Off camera, sadly, because I’d have liked to have seen it happen. He’s now on crutches. Paddy makes reference to the risks the middle-aged take when they participate in dangerous sports. It’s the only time their seniority is acknowledged. Officially, they’re daft lads for ever. Just the unusual, lucky sort of daft lads who have somehow managed to wangle a job that involves pots of money, glamorous international travel and the opportunity to guffaw a lot. Still, the Donk-racing sequence – burnt orange Chevrolets against a glorious blue sky – was a thing of genuine beauty, superbly filmed.

Top Gear continues on Sunday 3rd July at 8pm on BBC One. All previous seasons are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch in the meantime? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Entertainment hub.

Jane Garvey is the host of the Radio Times Podcast, featuring interviews with TV’s biggest stars and a preview of all the finest treats the entertainment world has to offer – new episodes arrive every Wednesday.

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The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

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