You would think that the audience would be tired of it by now. The same format of automobile-based stunts, with the same three middle-aged men acting like big children with their favourite toys. Yet after 8 years of the multi-award winning BBC Entertainment show, and three years of the live show, Top Gear is still going strong.
Back for its third outing as the showpiece of MPH Live at Earl’s Court – which moves to the Birmingham NEC this week – Top Gear Live 2009 is fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and contains even more outrageous and daring stunts than ever before. With acts involving an indoor loop-the-loop and car doughnut, Executive Producer Rowland French aims to ‘push the boundaries of theatre’ – and while this is a fairly ambitious statement, for Top Gear fans, the show does not disappoint.
Full of fire, loud explosions, stunts and racing from the word go, with a crowd-pleasing mixture of luxury and reasonably priced cars on display, the show aims to please all of its demographic, from young to old, rich to not so wealthy. The audience interaction features – an interactive ‘Cool Wall’ and race around the Top Gear Test Track – add to the crowd pleasing equation of fast cars and tomfoolery in equal measure.
The fact that nothing has gone wrong with the daring performances, and the clear indication that nothing has been left to chance, only proves that tomfoolery takes a lot of intelligence to get right, a testament to the strong team behind the light-hearted Top Gear facade.
Of course, for the majority of the audience, the main draw of the show is not the opportunity to view car stunts and fire; the attraction of seeing the three presenters, Clarkson, Hammond and May, live and personal, is the key selling point, especially when tickets for the BBC production reportedly have a 4 year waiting list.
In this respect, the show does not disappoint. The 90 minute performance was punctuated by many typical interactions between the three famous presenters, including Clarkson making a continuous joke of Hammond’s recent advertisement for Morrison’s, the national supermarket chain. Seeing the three performers at their best, with no room for re-take or error, reinforced the notion that the men truly are one of the key reasons why their niche motoring show has made it so big on the world stage.
With the fourteenth series of Top Gear due to commence on BBC2 this coming Sunday, plus the continuation of the Top Gear Live World Tour in December and January, it seems like the Top Gear phenomenon shows no sign of abating.