Top Gear returns to BBC2 on Sunday (25 January) and the men behaving badly have claimed that the new series will be on its best behaviour.
Following attacks from mobs in Argentina during the filming of December’s Patagonia Special, Richard Hammond recently told the Radio Times that the 22nd series will not be courting further controversy: “That’s been done. I hope people saw our side of it. Really, all we want to do is get back to making the show on a Sunday night without all the controversy around it.”
The men who should know better recently gave a sneak preview of Series 22, via a live YouTube broadcast, and revealed that for the first time Top Gear will be screened live around the world.
The first episode as Top Gear returns for its 22nd season will venture down under, to Australia. It features a road trip challenge with a Bentley Continental GT, BMW M6 Gran Coupe and Nissan GT-R that sees the cars rounding up herds of cattle on a vast, three million acre farm in the Outback, before going on to tackle a race track carved out of a mine.
Clarkson joked: “Australia needs a new unit of measurement”. He added that when asking how long it took to get to the nearest shop, locals would tell him it took ‘about 18 hours’.
Turning the temperature down a notch, later in the series May and Clarkson will be charged with rescuing Hammond from the wilds of the snow-covered Canadian outback. The ‘Hamster’ is dropped by helicopter in the middle of nowhere, sends out a location signal to his sidekicks and must then make camp and survive for as long as it takes them to reach him.
“I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that James and I didn’t rush,” remarked Clarkson.
This series will also see the team recreate a race across a city between a bike, car and, er, boat – in this case a hovercraft. The host city is St Petersburg, in Russia. James May chose the Renault Twizy, an electrically powered equivalent to a scooter which he reckoned would be narrow enough to squeeze through the gaps in traffic.
Clarkson hinted that of all the roads in the world that remained for Top Gear to get its teeth into, the Atlantic Road in Norway is crying out for a road trip.
Recently, Andy Wilman, the show’s executive producer, told Broadcast magazine that there are times where he feels the BBC does not always trust the show: “What the BBC likes about Top Gear is when it’s naughty but it’s all under control.
If your show is a bit wayward and naughty, there’s an attitude within it. We walk a tightrope most of the time. Sometimes we’re going to fall off it. And if you do, that’s when the BBC is not a fan. Sometimes, I feel they don’t trust us at heart.”
We’ll be reviewing each show here on the blog, so keep an eye out for our take on the new, ‘sensible’ era of the show. Until then, Top Gear fans, make a cup of tea, grab some biscuits and get comfortable on the sofa. Here’s a taster of what’s coming up in series 22 as Top Gear returns…