top gear
BBC2 passim

Oh dear. Top Gear, which I haven't laid eyes on in a while, has gone all "zoo". It's presented by a triumvirate of underachievers, who, in quintessential zoo style, are made to stand in front of the overweight, suburban audience. Sadly this change in tack from the producers only serves to confirm one's worst fears about Top Gear, ie. that only irredemable twats could find succour in it.

I'm all for boys and their toys, but bloody hell there are limits. Like most men over the age of 30, I have hobbies and interests that I realise would quickly descend into obsession if not checked. Not so the Top Gear massive; they just go with it. Also their shared hobby is currently so un-pc that they all labour under the misapprehension that it makes them look bad and/or edgy like being in punk band or smoking fags.

Clarkson is as Clarkson does, of course. He's found his range over the years, and as far as it goes it's mildly diverting shtick. The other two, whom I can't name, transcend parody however. There's the short, twat-eyed one who dresses like a C&A Thom Yorke, and whose attempts at thoughtful rhetoric make Clarkson sound like Gandhi. He's obviously decided to compensate for his lack of height by trading blows with Clarkson in the unlikely metaphor states, which he does with alarming volume and shrillness. He also gurns furiously, which I can only suppose he feels adds weight to his wafer-thin, motoring observations.

And then there's the third one, whom we'll refer to as dad. Dad is in his late forties, but refuses to cut his hair or dress like a fuddy-duddy. Oh no. Dad is clearly still trying to upset his genteel, octogenarian parents. Dad's job of work on the programme appears to consist entirely of ranting about the French and listing nought-to-sixty times. He does this with an appallingly inappropriate swagger.

Anyway, for reasons that need not trouble us here, Dad was this week forced to sit in the passenger seat of a rally car while a Norwegian rally champion poured it down an icy road at speed.
This was a joyous mistake on the producers' part. Dad is in his element behind the wheel of your bog standard rep's car, snidely addressing the on-board camera whilst hurtling up a disused runway to check the nought-to-sixty time. But put him in speeding car and add a hint of actual danger and it's a different matter. His face quickly developed the unmistakable rictus of genuine anguish, which left him unable to form words properly. His expression was reminiscent of that Vietnamese prisoner of war in the posters the one that's about to be shot in the face. Unable to speak then, he instead filled the dead air with a mantra of whooping and moaning, which lasted from start to finish. Television has become so contrived of late, with wall-to-wall "reality" shows that are really nothing more than pantomimes of real life, that it was thrilling to see an individual express emotion in the raw like this. Well done, Dad. Time to change those slacks though, I fancy.

Misery Kippers Rating:

"They don't like it up 'em."
Corporal Jones