Is this the end of Top Gear?
We know that every show, no matter how great, has to come to an eventual end. But all Top Gearfans probably thought that the beloved automotive TV programme would keep going for years, just like Doctor Who has been doing since the sixties. Now it seems that the end has come after all.
For a long time, Jeremy Clarkson could get away with just about anything. At the time of writing, the Wikipedia section on controversies surrounding the invincible Clarkson spans five long sections. But after he punched and verbally abused a Top Gear producer while filming on location (allegedly, Clarkson reacted after being told he couldn’t get his dinner because the hotel kitchen was closed), the line was crossed and BBC announced last Wednesday that it would not be renewing Clarkson’s contract, which ends in March.
We are joining in the collective crying and wailing by the estimated 350 million Top Gear viewers across the world. It’s akin to the lead singer leaving your favourite band (coincidentally, what’s-his-face is leaving One Direction, and the same sort of painful sobbing has overcome tween and teen girls the world over). Except, there are many bands, but only one Top Gear; part auto show, part travelogue, part chat show, in the more than 12 years that it’s been on the air, Top Gear has become more than a TV show, but a distinct brand that viewers identify with the British nation.
Despite Clarkson’s candor or bigotry, however you choose to view him, he managed to win viewers over with his sharp wit and proved himself to be an erudite host; more than a million fans signed a petition against his suspension after the incident.
Co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, whose contracts also end this month, could continue on if they wanted to; but without Clarkson, it would be like the Three Stooges had become only two. Reportedly, the loyal pair refused to shoot the remaining episodes of the season without Clarkson. In fact, May has already changed his Twitter profile to “former TV presenter” and started a Youtube channel called “JM’s unemployment tube”; thus far, he has posted two videos of himself playing the recorder. Here’s one of it, with the “jobless” May playing a rather despondent tune:
We hope he isn’t relying on his musical skills henceforth to earn a living; if he was and judging from this video, his electricity would get cut, his cars would get repossessed and he would starve.
Hammond’s last tweet was: “Gutted at such a sad end to an era. We’re all three of us idiots in our different ways but it’s been an incredible ride together.”
So, it seems that BBC will have to reboot the show with three new hosts. And you bet they will try. In doing what is right, BBC might have slaughtered its cash cow; the show is one of the corporation’s biggest earners, with oversea sales reaching an estimated £50 million a year.
While we cannot imagine, at this moment in time, Top Gear being Top Gear without Clarkson, May and Hammond, we’re reminded that there’s been 12 incarnations of Doctor Who since the show started and each time we think we like the last doctor better; but, eventually, the new one grows on us and the show goes on, as it must.