Top Gear (series 9)
|Top Gear (series 9)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||7|
|Original channel||BBC Two|
|Original release||28 January 2007– 25 July 2007|
The ninth series of Top Gear began on 28 January 2007 and concluded on 4 March 2007. The series featured six episodes, with a further two specials ("Top Gear of the Pops" and "Top Gear: Polar Special"), broadcast afterwards. The series also included one "Best Of Top Gear" special, charting the best moments from Series 8 and 9.
The series' production was delayed due to Hammond's accident in September 2006, and did not begin until the following month. Subsequently, the first episode of the series has never been repeated on TV owing to Hammond's near-death experience.
|Total||No.||Title||Reviews||Features||Guest||Original air date||UK viewers
|75||1||Series 9, Episode 1||Jaguar XKR vs. Aston Martin V8 Vantage||Roadworks in 24 hours • Richard Hammond's Vampire dragster crash aftermath||Jamie Oliver||28 January 2007||8.13|
Intro: Clarkson and May welcome Hammond back after his crash in the Vampire. They use an aeroplane entry staircase from EasyJet and dancing girls because Clarkson says quality steps cost over £300. Clarkson enquires if he (Hammond) "is a mental." Hammond responds that he is completely fixed and that despite the brain damage, the only personality difference he has noticed is, ”I like celery now and I didn’t before.” Richard thanks everyone for giving him support while he was hospitalised.
Challenge: The presenters decide that the duration of road repairs is appalling, especially since you never see roadworkers actually working. So they decide to take matters into their own hands and resurface a stretch of the D5481 (sic)(also named Grafton Lane) near Bidford-on-Avon themselves, to prove that work which normally takes up a week can be done in 24 hours. It falls apart quickly, as May's sense of direction causes traffic mishaps, Nineteen Eighty-Four-like speeches from Clarkson, tarmac supply issues (which include a cameraman accidentally pressing the emergency stop at the quarry), bad weather, and Mrs. Thatcher speeches blaring out in the late-night/early-morning period cause problems, but the road gets finished by the 9:07 a.m. deadline.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Jamie Oliver talks about his campaign for healthier lunches for schoolchildren, his passion for organic food, and his quest to beat Gordan Ramsay’s power lap time. Jamie sets a time of 1:47.7 during wet conditions (although he insists it was snowy). Upon hearing that the slush would garner him a 4 second handicap, Oliver moved his time magnet to the top of the board (above fellow chef and rival Gordon Ramsay).
Review: Jeremy reviews the Jaguar XKR against the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Although the Aston is better in some parts (better looking, louder, more aggressive, higher pedigree), Clarkson notes that the Jaguar is able to keep up with the Aston around the Top Gear track. The Jag also more powerful, better equipped, more practical, and less expensive than the Aston. As Clarkson puts it, “It is quite simply spectacular.” The Stig turns in a Power Lap time of 1:34.7 in "very, very, very" wet conditions. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say he once threw a microwave oven at a tramp and that long before anyone else, he realised that Jade Goody was a racist, pig-faced, waste of blood and organs. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”The News: No news this episode. Instead, Hammond takes James and Jeremy (and the studio and broadcast audience) through the events leading up to and including his crash in the Vampire dragster. After some good-natured ribbing at Richard’s expense, Jeremy admits that Hammond was very brave for attempting to drive the Vampire in the first place. Hammond responds with a simple request that they not talk about it ever again – to which they agree. Despite this, the occasional oblique reference pops up from time to time in future shows (almost always in a comedic way) but no outright mention is ever made.
|76||2||Series 9, Episode 2||Audi TT vs. Mazda RX-8 vs. Alfa Romeo Brera||Bugatti Veyron to top speed at Ehra-Lessien • Shootout: Best looking cars that can be called art • The team plays golf.||Hugh Grant||4 February 2007||7.20|
Review/Challenge: May takes a look at the Bugatti Veyron, discussing more about the car, before looking at proving that its top speed of 407 km/h (253 mph), can be achieved, by taking it on Volkswagen's Ehra-Lessien test track. He described how smoothly the car behaved at those speeds and how disorienting the speed can be. He remarked, in the studio, that as he was coming to a stop at the end of his run, he wanted to open the door, but "fortunately I looked at the speedometer and I was still doing 70."
The News: Clarkson, Hammond and May discuss Porsche's new Cayenne as well as its official press release photo. A party, called the “Thunderball,” is going to be held for workers laid off from TVR’s factory in Blackpool – complete with a buffet and band. Clarkson shares an unflattering (or very flattering, depending on your point of view) photo of Renault’s F1 racing drivers standing next to a Clio R27. Jeremy also shares a list of ridiculous driving offences that can get you jail time in the U.K. The boys discuss their best and worst drives of the last six months: Clarkson was impressed with the Lexus GS hybrid and disappointed with the Volkswagen Golf GT (1.4 litre supercharged and turbocharged), calling it "as smooth as falling down stairs while wearing leg calipers." Hammond was impressed with the Volvo C30 T5 and disappointed with the ugly Subaru B9 Tribeca. May was impressed with Suzuki Swift Sport and disappointed with the sporty Bentley Arnage T. Finally, Jaguar has produced a concept car that is claims will be the next S-type.
Car Review Challenge: The guys were set the challenge of finding the best stylish coupés: Clarkson chose the revised Audi TT, Hammond chose the old Mazda RX-8, and May chose the new Alfa Romeo Brera. After taking them to a golf course in Scotland (they were asked to leave after the 3rd hole because they were too slow), they took them to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to get expert opinions. Each of the presenters had two minutes to persuade a panel of three art professors that their car deserved a place in the museum. The professors opted for the Brera. Hammond decided that they were wrong and that the argument would be settled by determining which one was the fastest. After the Stig drove them round the track, the Audi TT came in at 1.31.4, the Mazda RX-8 in 1.32.0 and the Brera in 1.36.9. When Clarkson noticed that he had won, he said that he preferred the Brera all along, and the others concurred. But, as it is an Alfa, none of the three could recommend it. Clarkson closed by saying, "The best car here, is the worst!" This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say that he once had a vicious knife fight with Anthea Turner and that he is in no way implicated in the cash for honour scandal. All we know is, he’s called Lord Stig!”Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Hugh Grant stops by to talk about his car history, “Golf ball,” road rage, and getting old. His lap time: 1.47.7.
|77||3||Series 9, Episode 3
|None||US Special||None||11 February 2007||6.18|
Main article: Top Gear: US Special
The trio point out the hassle of renting out a car, ranging from ignorant rental agents to not being able to find their car once it is pointed out to them. Their premise was to see if it could be cheaper to buy a car rather than rent so, as a result, on their trip to the United States, the three were given $1000 to find a used car. Clarkson bought a 1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS; Hammond a Dodge Ram 150 pick-up truck; and May a 1989 Cadillac Brougham that was the only car that had air conditioning. The trio had radios in their cars, so they pretended to be like truckers while communicating with the local truck drivers, and use codenames during their journey. Clarkson's codename was "Murderer," Hammond's was "Brokeback," and May's, being rather obvious, was "Captain."
Final results: Clarkson declared himself the winner and declared May the loser, although no points were given. They concluded that it was viable to buy, rather than rent, a car. Clarkson summed up the trip with his long-held opinion: "Don't go to America!"
Similar to the credits of the 2007 Polar Challenge Special and Series 10 Episode 4, other than the four main presenters (who are credited as Cletus Clarkson, Earl Hammond Jr., Ellie May May, and Roscoe P. Stig), each crew member name is listed with the words "Billy Bob" attached to the start, a reference to the American redneck stereotype.
|78||4||Series 9, Episode 4||Brabus S Biturbo roadster (based on a Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG) • Porsche 911 Turbo||Reliant Robin Space Shuttle challenge||Simon Pegg||18 February 2007||7.51|
Review: Clarkson was given the task of reviewing the Porsche 997 Turbo, to see if it could convert him from being a lifelong Ferrari fan. He found the Porsche to be less expensive and more practical than its closest Ferrari competitor (the 430). He also liked the turbos, traction control, the phenomenal grip, and the boot space. He even felt that the Porsche would be faster than the Ferrari in real world, every day driving conditions. However, while he had great respect for the car, he claimed his passion for Ferraris was still greater.
The News: Hammond and Clarkson argue over the merits of Porsches vs. Ferraris until May demands that they get on to the news, which begins (much to May’s chagrin) with the Porsche 997 GT3 RS. Clarkson rants against average speed cameras. 1.5 million people have signed a petition against road pricing. Clarkson provides the website to visit to add ones name to the list and (being the BBC) the website for those who agree with road pricing (www.iamaclot.com). The new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is loaded with technology. The Melling Hellcat claims to have a potential top speed of 270 mph. Clarkson reveals a trick that could have got himself and Hammond out of trouble in that Alabama gas station in the previous week’s episode. The BBC is requiring its employees who drive for the company to take a driving class.
Car Creation Challenge: Hammond and May, preposterously, try to convert a 1992 Reliant Robin into a space shuttle, on the orders of 'John F. Clarkson'. They were given 12 days to build it and help from the British Amateur Rocket Society. Eight tonnes of thrust were required to launch the Robin — the largest non-commercial rocket launch undertaken in Europe. It was not intended to put a payload into any meaningful orbit, but merely to gain a few thousand feet of height and then land on a runway. Hammond & May reacted with genuine surprise and elation as the Reliant Robin took off and everything seemed to be working until a release bolt attaching the Robin to the fuel tank failed to detach. As a result, it spiralled out of control and crashed in a massive explosion on a nearby hillside as they watched with expressions of shock and disappointment.
Review: Clarkson looks at the already monstrous 6.0L twin-turbo V12 SL 65 AMG and then sees what a modifying company has been able to do with it. The result is the Brabus S Biturbo roadster, with 730 bhp (540 kW), 811 ft·lbf (1,100 N·m) of torque, and an electronically limited top speed of 219 mph (352 km/h). Clarkson finds massive speed and power, but little in terms of control for it and in the end concludes that the car was at its best in its original, Mercedes form. The Stig takes it around the track in 1:26.2. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say that if you lick his chest, it tastes exactly the same as piccalilli and that at this week’s Brit Awards, he was arrested for goosing Russell Brand. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”The Cool Wall: Clarkson starts by moving all the 4x4 cars down the board to “Seriously Uncool.” The Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder is also “Seriously Uncool,” as Clarkson has just bought one. However, he got rid of his Ford GT to do so and gleefully moves that car into “Sub Zero.” The Porsche 997 GT3 RS is “Seriously Uncool” due to its roll cage and fire extinguisher. The Kia Cee’d is “Uncool,” despite the claims from a Kia employee in the audience. Closing the segment, Hammond adds a Ducati 1098 motorcycle to the “Cool” section of the wall. Clarkson walks off and returns with a chainsaw, which he uses to cut the Ducati off/out of The Cool Wall. This scene has been removed in recent repeats on the BBC.
|79||5||Series 9, Episode 5||Lamborghini Murciélago LP640||Railway crossing hazard video • Tractor challenge (Fendt 930 Vario, JCB Fastrac 8250, Case STX Steiger 530): home-made biofuel • Top Gear survey 2006 results||Kristin Scott Thomas||25 February 2007||7.58|
Public Service Video: Clarkson produced a video about level crossings. He showed CCTV footage of an old man jumping the light at a level crossing and nearly hit by a train while driving a Reliant Robin (the old man was lucky not to kill someone and he didn't die), then put a Renault Espace on the tracks to test the viewers how it will happen to them. The car was then destroyed by a BR Class 31 railway locomotive crashing into it. After witnessing this carnage, Clarkson advised viewers to "wear proper reflective safety clothing" instead of telling them not to drive around the level crossing gates. Finally, the wrecked Renault is taken back to the studio.
The News: They begin with the Maserati GranTurismo, which Clarkson and May agree is a thing of beauty. Hammond prefers its sister car, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Hammond and May ridicule Clarkson for getting a haircut and wearing a suit on the day that his crush, Kristin Scott Thomas, is in the studio. Volkswagen has revealed a sporty Passat – the very notion of which Clarkson finds "ludicrous!" Clarkson shares a photo he took on the drive into the studio of a Peugeot 1007, joking that someone has actually bought one. Both Hammond and May take delight in pointing out that Jeremy took the photo while driving a Rolls-Royce Phantom – another obvious way of impressing Kristin. The results of the Top Gear Survey are revealed. The Honda S2000 is the most satisfying car. The bottom six are all French cars.
Special Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond and May plant their own rapeseed biofuel after acquiring three tractors to test, with a number of challenges to start:
They then cleared a field of sheep, crossed a weak bridge (which Clarkson broke) and ploughed, with the aid of judges. Then after lunch (with chaos in the local village when Hammond turned up in his tractor) they had to plant their crop seeds, with May volunteering to use his tractor for it. Due to his incorrectly operating the seed spreader however, all the seeds ended up dumped in a small pile near where he had started, and he had to spend the rest of the day carefully replanting the crop (which was revealed as diesel used in the Britcar 24 Hour race).
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actress (and Cool Wall muse) Kristin Scott Thomas. Clarkson took the opportunity to get her opinion on some cars to put on The Cool Wall. She said Clarkson's new Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder was "pathetic," but she also approved of the G-Wiz and the Bentley Continental GT – both of which Clarkson had gone out of his way to bash in the past. They also discussed her role in Chekhov’s play The Seagull, which was running in London at the time. Throughout the interview, Hammond & May mocked Clarkson from the audience – this was the only Star In A Reasonably Car segment to feature them in any capacity. Kristin completed her lap in 1:54.
Review: Standing next to a Ferrari in the studio, Hammond describes it as a supercar before moving on to two Lamborghinis (a Diablo and a Countach), which he describes as hypercars. Clarkson then begins his review of the new Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. He is at first disappointed by the lack of lunacy in the Murciélago as compared with its older brothers (the Diablo, Countach, & Miura) – a fault he bestows on Audi, which now owns Lamborghini. However, he also finds that the car works better than any previous Lamborghini and discovers that it is "properly, savagely fast" as he takes it to 207 mph on the Top Gear track (a new record for the show). To better illustrate the speed, he organises a drag race between a fast car (a VW Golf GTI) and the Murciélago. Predictably, the Murciélago leads from the start and quickly disappears toward the horizon. Reading over the options list does reveal a bit of lunacy with things like "that little bit of carbon fibre there on the center console" costing several thousand pounds. Despite this, the base car still costs under £200,000 – roughly half the price of another hypercar, the Pagani Zonda. He concluded his review by stating that it is sort of halfway between a supercar and a hypercar. It lacks the over-the-top aesthetics that would definitively place it in hypercar territory, but it lacks the confident handling that would give it supercar status. The Stig took it around the track in 1:19.8, sixth place overall. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say that he sucks the moisture from ducks and that his crash helmet is modelled on Britney Spears’ head. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”
|80||6||Series 9, Episode 6||Shelby Mustang GT500||Stretch limos from ordinary cars (Fiat Panda, MG F, Alfa Romeo 164 V6 & Saab 9000 V6)||Billie Piper • Chris Moyles • Jamelia • Lemar||4 March 2007||8.12|
Car Creation Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond and May each build a stretch limos to drive celebrities to the Brit Awards.Clarkson chose a 1992 Fiat Panda, because he found it quite likeable, and made it quite long (though later on, he had to remove 7 feet to make it road-legal, while its length was criticised by his colleagues for necessitating a wheeled platform to carry passengers to the back seat), Hammond chose an 1996 MG F while maintaining its convertible roof (which did not allow it to keep people warm), and May chose to use a 1994 Saab 9000 and an 1996 Alfa Romeo 164 to create a conjoined limo, using the front ends of both (which surprised the other two, although they found that the steering could be done in both ends). After testing out each other's limos, they took on a few tests, mostly evasive work, including J-turns, in which James and Jeremy got out of their vehicles during the challenges and were respectively shot in the groin by paintballs, before attempting a slalom course, avoiding a stinger trap in the process while being blasted by a fire apparatus water cannon (Jeremy failed badly, and both he and Hammond were soaked). Eventually, all three were sent to drive their celebrities, with Clarkson chauffeuring BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles, Hammond taking Jamelia to the Brit Awards, and May driving Lemar. Hammond arrived first and largely without incident, although the open-top nature of his limo and the throttle becoming stuck meant that Jamelia attracted more attention than she wanted. Clarkson arrived shortly afterwards, despite the entire rear half of his car being missing. May got lost and Lemar stormed out of May's car after being an hour late to the start of the ceremony. The ultimate winner of the task was whoever got the most photos of their car printed in newspapers or magazines, and Clarkson earned that honor, by virtue of having a picture printed in his own column in The Sun.
The News: Richard met with the Prime Minister about road pricing. A new Ford Mondeo is coming and will be “brilliant.” Booster seat laws can’t be enforced because police don’t have the legal right to measure children (May has difficulty presenting this story without breaking into fits of laughter). Aston Martin is for sale by Ford.
Preview: Jeremy & Richard present the new Vauxhall Monaro VXR in the studio. It has been restyled and given four doors (instead of two), while retaining the same powerful engine as before, with an option for a supercharger.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actress Billie Piper posted a 1:48.3 around the track, until it was revealed that she had actually cut out Hammerhead during the lap and was on the wrong side of Chicago's line. However, since she was wearing a see-through top, Jeremy couldn't bring himself to actually apply the Stig's recommended three-second penalty.Review: Richard Hammond test-drives the latest Shelby Mustang GT500. Hammond suggests that the 500 horsepower (370 kW) rating of the car as indicated in its name is exaggerated. He has it tested on a portable wheel dynamometer which yields 447 horsepower (333 kW). He also put his own classic Mustang GT390 on the dyno and it had 250 RWHP. The biggest problem with the newer car, however, is the unaltered suspension with a live axle. As Clarkson later explains, “You can’t put that much power in a car without changing the suspension.” The Stig takes the Shelby around the track in a wobbly fashion in 1:30, beating the time of a Vauxhall Monaro VXR by .1 second. In response, Clarkson presents another Mustang altered by tuning house Roush. The Roush Mustang is less powerful than the Shelby with 415 BHP, but it has upgraded braking, more sophisticated suspension, and a limited slip differential. The Stig takes the Roush around the track in a much more controlled time of 1:28. This episode’s Stig intro (by Hammond): “Some say he isn’t machine washable and all his potted plants are called Steve. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”
|Total||No.||Title||Features||Guest||Original air date|
|N/A||SP||"Top Gear of the Pops"||None||Travis, McFly, Supergrass, Lethal Bizzle, Justin Hawkins||16 March 2007|
Performance: Lethal Bizzle began by performing his new single, but during the performance, Clarkson dubbed him "Jizzy Tissue" and disabled the speakers, before proclaiming that "music like that killed off Top of the Pops in the first place."
Challenge: The trio challenge boyband McFly to write and perform a song before the end of the show. The song was not allowed to include the words "love", "baby," or "heart", but did have to include the words "sofa," "Hyundai," and "administration" (which became the overall title of the song).
The News: Jeremy doesn’t understand why all car makers don’t include iPod connectivity with their cars. He also pleads with Apple to make tangle-proof headphones. James can’t comprehend a review for the latest Coldplay album. Hammond presents the line-ups for forthcoming music festivals. Clarkson shares a quick story about his father reacting to a Billy Idol TV appearance. Phil Spector is on trial for murdering someone called Clarkson. Hammond makes a connection between Spector’s wig and Jeremy’s own hair. The trio discuss songs that can’t be played on hospital radio. The latest video from Snow Patrol using footage created by French artist Rondezvous. Genesis, The Police, and Van Halen are reforming. This prompts Clarkson to declare that Genesis is better than any current band – which in turn causes Hammond to disagree vehemently.
Feature: James presented the current top five songs in the singles chart; before he could announce the top spot, Clarkson unplugged the monitor. He went on to proclaim that, "The only thing people care about nowadays is how quick the song is over," before presenting a rundown of the top three shortest songs in the chart at the moment.
Performance: Supergrass performed a fan favourite, with guest Adrian Edmondson on guitar. During the performance, the presenters were given the job of special effects, with Clarkson on a dry ice machine, Hammond on a wind machine, and May throwing birds onto the stage. This prompted complaints from viewers.Performance: The show concluded with a cover of the Billy Ocean song "Red Light Spells Danger," with Justin Hawkins as lead singer, Hammond on the bass, James on the keyboard, and Jeremy on the drums.
|N/A||SP||"Top Gear: Polar Special"||None||Sir Ranulph Fiennes||25 July 2007|
|In April 2007, Clarkson and May teamed up to race Hammond from Resolute, Nunavut to the Magnetic North Pole, taking the route set out in the Polar Challenge. The terrain in between is some of the toughest in the world – a mix of mountainous land masses and jagged sea ice where temperatures can drop to minus 65 degrees Celsius (minus 85 degrees Fahrenheit). Jeremy and James used a specially adapted Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, while Richard used a sled pulled by a team of ten Canadian Inuit dogs, driven by American explorer Matty McNair. In the end the truck won, although the sled overtook them at one point while they were crossing the first of two fields of ice boulders. In the show's credits, each crew member had their first name replaced with "Sir Ranulph" in homage to Sir Ranulph Fiennes (e.g. Sir Ranulph Clarkson). This was the first episode of Top Gear to be shown in high-definition.|
|Total||No.||Title||Reviews||Guest||Original air date|
|N/A||SP||"The Best Of Top Gear 2006"||None||None||1 March 2007|
|Notes: This episode was due to be broadcast before the start of the series, but due to Richard's severe crash, the episode was postponed indefinitely. After complaints from the first airing of Series 9, Episode 5, this episode was finally shown in place of the planned episode 5 repeat.|
Reaction and reception
Series 9, Episode 1
The BBC apologised to a number of Top Gear viewers after Clarkson asked Hammond the question "Are you now a mental?" May also offered a tissue in case he "dribbled" during the first episode of series 9. The comments were meant as a joke, but an apology was made after several viewers complained.
Series 9, Episode 3
Both the BBC and the UK media regulator Ofcom received complaints about the cow tied to Clarkson's Camaro. However, the BBC defended the programme against the complaints received. The cow had died several days previously.
Series 9, Episode 5
In the episode, Clarkson did a public service video about Level Crossings. The segment was criticised due to the Cumbria train crash only 2 days earlier, even though it was not caused by a track incursion. The reconstruction, which was organised by Network Rail as part of its Don't Run The Risk campaign, was criticised by several people, including Anthony Smith, chief executive of the rail watchdog Passenger Focus who said: "We need to raise awareness of the issue, but now is not the right time." However, this item had already been delayed several weeks because of an earlier fatal level crossing crash, and with only one programme remaining in the series and the frequency of level crossing accidents, it may have been considered that there was no "appropriate" time to show the film without "offending" somebody. A repeat of the episode was due to be aired on 1 March 2007 was not broadcast after another death on a level crossing earlier that morning. The episode was replaced with a "Best of Top Gear" episode.
- Bellicoso, Louise (15 February 2007). "Amazing space launch for ...Delboy's motor!". Buxton Advertiser. Retrieved 21 February 2007.[dead link] While the show alludes to a 12 day build, in reality, it took over 4 months to build the final product.
- "BBC apologises after Clarkson calls Hammond 'mental'". Irish Examiner. 6 March 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
- "Top Gear dead cow stunt garners 91 public complaints". Brand Republic. 12 February 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
- "Top Gear to screen train stunt". BBC. 25 February 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
- "One dead in level crossing crash". BBC News. 1 March 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2007.