Specialty Products & Product Reviews

Book Review: The Top Gear Story by Martin Roach

Top Gear Story, Road-Test.org

Who’s not a fan of the hugely successful TV show Top Gear? Well if you’re a thin-skinned, tree-hugging Greenpeace activist with a penchant for Political Correctness and you have no sense of humour – you won’t like it. For everyone else it’s the best show on TV.

Part car show, part comedy, part drama, part stupid-and-self-indulgent among other things, the show gets 350-500 million viewers per episode, so it’s obviously hitting the right chord with people around the world. It’s also the most-pirated TV show on earth.Top Gear logo

Top Gear is so popular they have licensed three “international” versions – Russia, Australia and U.S.. I haven’t seen the Russian version, but they have tried to copy it in Australia and fallen far short of the original. In the U.S. they’ve come up with three hosts that wouldn’t be interesting – no matter how drunk you were. The challenges are so lame and contrived a five-year old wouldn’t stay interested long enough to reach the first commercial break and their interaction is so disingenuous and uninspiring you’d rather watch SpongeBob SquarePants for an hour.

Fortunately you can ignore the cast-offs and watch the real thing almost every night on BBC Canada and BBC America. To supplement that and get a comprehensive background to the show as well as some insider information you can and should get the book The Top Gear Story byMartin Roach.

The book moves briskly through the history of the show (going back to 1977 in its original incarnation) and focuses on the three presenters that have hosted the show together since 2002. Some of the shows are described in detail to give the reader a bit of background on the personalities with a number of insider information you probably won’t get anywhere else.
In the olden days I always got the impression that TVR built a car, put it on sale, and then found out how it handled. Usually when one of their customers wrote to the factory complaining about how dead he was. – Jeremy Clarkson
One of the longest chapters in the book – at 27 pages, is devoted to Richard Hammond’s accident at 288 mph as well as the aftermath of his near-death experience. And the second-to-last chapter deals with the ‘coming out’ of the second Stig in 2009.

The book is easy to read and never bogs down with boring antidotes or irrelevant information. Although the stars – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are often quoted, they don’t appear to have been interviewed directly by the author, but the show’s producers, creators and several other key inside people are – as is ex-Formula1 driver David Coulthard.

You don’t have to be a die-hard Top Gear fan to enjoy the book, but if you are you’ll without doubt want to read it. Like TV shows, movies and books, I only watch or read things once – so I borrowed it from the library and read it on my tablet.

As for the show – it’s very unique for me because I’ve seen every episode at least once and continue to watch repeats of the show if it’s on, as does David Coulthard who says in the book: “I actually can’t watch most shows on repeat, but I’ll happily sit there and watch Top Gear on satellite.”

So do yourself a favour and check out this terrific book and spend a few hours enjoying the history and find out what makes this show tick. Much like the show, when the end comes… you won’t be disappointed!

Book  ISBN – 978-1-84358-333-2
ePub  ISBN – 978 1 84358 437 7
Mobi  ISBN – 978 1 84358 483 4
PDF ISBN – 978 1 84358 522 0

Top Gear Story, Road-Test.org

Copyright © 2013 by Iain Shankland
Text: Iain Shankland

Also published on Flagworld