Top Ground Gear Force
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|Top Ground Gear Force|
|Presented by||Jeremy Clarkson
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||1|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||14 March 2008|
|Related shows||Top Gear,
Top Ground Gear Force is a one-off TV special, featuring the cast of BBC's Top Gear, which originally aired on BBC Two at 22:00 GMT on 14 March 2008 as part of Sport Relief 2008. It was repeated on Easter Monday, 2008.
It borrowed its format from Top Gear of the Pops, a similar one off special which aired as part of Comic Relief 2007. Whereas Top Gear of The Pops combined Top Gear with Top of the Pops, this episode combines the motoring show with Ground Force, a gardening makeover show which ran on the BBC from 1998 to 2005.
Regular Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond take over sportsman Steve Redgrave's garden, to dispense advice on creating a zero maintenance lawn, installing an impressive water feature and getting rid of unwanted plants. Naturally, disaster ensues. Top Ground Gear Force was then included as a page in the 2009 Big Book of Top Gear, giving advice to garden problems including concreting the garden over, petrol bombs and flash fires.
Like Top Gear of the Pops, the title screen and music is changed to suit the programme. Instead of having cars in the background, images of gardening were shown instead. The images bore a strong resemblance to the Top Gear title screen (e.g. dirt coming out of a spinning pot, similar to a car wheel spinning and kicking up water from the ground) Hammond was seen pushing a spade into the ground, and then holding it over his shoulder. May was seen holding a wheelbarrow, and breaking a gnome in half (in replacement of him pushing a button on a remote control in the Top Gear title screen). Clarkson was seen with a pair of open hedge trimmers, which he then snaps shut.
The Top Gear ending credits are also adapted to suit the programme's resemblance to Ground Force – the presenters' names were listed as Alan Clarkson, Handy Hammond and Charlie May (references to Ground Force presenters Alan Titchmarsh, Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock respectively). The rest of the crew were all listed as having the first name "Monty". This 'mocking' was also used in special editions such as the Top Gear Polar Special, in which the presenters' first names were changed to 'Sir Ranulph', as a reference to Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The title Top Ground Gear Force appears during the opening credits and is spoken by the hosts throughout the show. However, the insulated jackets worn by the three hosts are silkscreened with "TGGGF" on the front chest and "Top Garden Ground Gear Force" on the rear. Other equipment, such as a flatbed truck, is labeled with the factual title, "Top Ground Gear Force". This minor detail is not explained throughout the show and may be a simple mistake or an intentional joke. In his book, And On That Bombshell, Richard Porter (Top Gear's script editor) explained that the original name was in fact "Top Garden Gear Ground Force" but the word "garden" was removed since it is not found in either show's title.
The Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond decided, for Sport Relief, to resurrect the show Ground Force, and provide a garden makeover to the garden of one of Britain's sporting legends, namely Sir Stephen Redgrave. Helping them was a team of Poles, and on hand to provide advice on Sir Steve's tastes was Ann Redgrave, who was erroneously addressed and referred to as "Lady Ann" rather than the proper "Lady Redgrave".
As the team's only 'country bumpkin', Hammond decided to designate himself as the team leader. However, his plan to build a 'river of gravel' failed to impress Clarkson and May, who wanted to include a water feature and a shed, respectively. Clarkson also noted that Hammond's river of gravel would pass through one of Redgrave's flowerbeds, which would be particularly difficult to remove. Hammond demonstrates that it is easy to simply dig up each flower with a trowel, Clarkson declares it would take too long, and instead reveals his unique method for removing the flowers using a shotgun. Unimpressed, Hammond sends Clarkson and May to Wyevale Garden Centre to pick up supplies. Deciding to go ahead with his plans to create a 'river of gravel', Hammond uses a small Caterpillar digger to dig a trench in the garden. Meanwhile, Clarkson and May arrive back with their desired equipment, only to destroy the push bike of one of Redgrave's children as they pull into his drive. As May starts work on his shed, Clarkson enlists the help of the Poles to start work on his greenhouse. Meanwhile, unable to control his digger, Hammond crashes it into the trench, leaving it immobile. In an attempt to rectify the situation, he hires a much larger digger to pull the smaller one out of the hole, but due to the digger being extremely heavy, it results in him leaving numerous caterpillar track marks all over the remainder of the garden lawn. Meanwhile, May has just completed work on his shed.
Hammond decides to leave both Caterpillars, and instead moves on to his next project - building a round-the-tree seat to be placed at the end of his 'river of gravel'. However, Clarkson quickly points out that despite the seat being complete, Hammond has no way of placing it around the tree, as it has been constructed as a sole piece. Clarkson offers to help Hammond by attempting to prune the tree with his shotgun, allowing the seat to be lifted and then dropped from the top of the tree. However, his gun misfires, and instead blasts a massive hole through the side of May's shed. Meanwhile, Hammond hires a 14-ton crane to lift his seat high enough to slip it over the tree. However, the crane is too heavy, and instead sinks into the lawn, leaving massive holes in it. However, he finds that the crane itself is long enough to still do the job, but his inexperience means that instead of lifting the seat, he moves it sideways, crashing it into and destroying May's shed. May is extremely angry, but Clarkson appears amused by the situation. May starts upon rebuilding the shed, and with the help of the Poles, the shed is quickly reinstated. He begins by labelling where each of the tools in the shed should go, alphabetically ordering the books on the bookshelf, and placing up pictures that he believes will remind Redgrave of his glory days. Meanwhile, Clarkson has the tricky job of removing a rockery in order to build his water feature. He decides to use a homemade bomb to completely the job quickly. The bomb is successful, destroying the rockery in one clean sweep - but the blast is so powerful that the energy manages to blow all of the windows and one of the walls out of May's rebuilt shed, leaving him more angry than ever. May subsequently emerges from the shed, and asks Clarkson what time the programme will air. After being informed it was going to air after the watershed, he exclaims at Clarkson, 'you're a fu-'. At this point, the episode cuts to the next scene.
With Hammond at a loose end after the failure of both his 'river of gravel' and his tree seat, he begins to wander aimlessly. Meanwhile, Clarkson has ordered some cement to pave over the parts of the lawn which were destroyed by Hammond's giant digger and 14-ton crane. However, despite his estimations, he orders too little, and only a small portion of the lawn is covered. At this point, The Salvation Army brass band arrive to provide entertainment for the team, but their appearance is cut short when Hammond gets stuck in Clarkson's undried cement, and their musical accompaniment drives Clarkson insane, leading him to bend one of their trombones in half and ask them to leave. With Hammond having ruined Clarkson's cement by leaving footprints in it, Clarkson moves on to his next project - erecting some rugby posts, despite being told that none of Redgrave's family plays rugby. With May having successfully rebuilt his shed again, it's not long before disaster strikes again, when Clarkson and the Poles drop the rugby posts, and they fall directly on May's shed, destroying part of the roof and one of the side walls. By this point, May is fuming, and he screams at Clarkson to apologise, while pointing a two-by-four at him. After being successfully rescued from the cement, Hammond has moved on to his last project, a turbo-charged barbecue system, which allows the user to cook varieties of meat in under five minutes, using a jet engine to rotate the meat and cook it. Clarkson and May are impressed, until the blades begin to rotate too fast, and the chicken is flung off the rotisserie. May and Clarkson are amused by the situation, as all of Hammond's projects so far - the tree seat, river of gravel and barbecue - have all failed, while both May's shed, after being resurrected three times, and Clarkson's greenhouse, have both been successful. However, May's amusement is short-lived when the fire from the barbecue burns out of control, and manages to set fire to his once again newly rebuilt shed. Fuming, he attempts to put the fire out before it can take hold, but Clarkson takes hold of the fire extinguisher, forcing May to watch his shed burn.
However, the team soon receive word that Redgrave is now pulling into the drive. Despite two abandoned Caterpillar diggers, an abandoned crane, a burning shed, a ruined lawn and a destructive barbecue, the team are forced to go ahead and unveil the garden to Redgrave. At first, Redgrave is upset at the destruction of his garden, and storms inside his house, leaving the Poles to run away, with Clarkson proclaiming they can 'sense the mood'. Clarkson and May initially attempt to blame the entire debacle on Hammond, but eventually, after Clarkson talking to him privately, Redgrave's mood lightens. Despite all of Hammond and May's projects being failures, Clarkson manages to unveil his proudly built greenhouse, and his turbo-charged water feature. Redgrave is slightly impressed, until Clarkson activates the water feature. The gush of water is so powerful that it manages to burst the top off the water feature, sending gallons of water flying up into the air, and the broken half of the water feature crashing down through the greenhouse, smashing all of the windows and destroying some of the wooden structure.
On its first showing in the UK on BBC Two, the programme obtained 4.5 million viewers which equated to a 22% audience share for its timeslot between 10pm and 10.40pm. The programme was part of the Sport Relief fundraising evening. The Sport Relief programmes preceding it on BBC One between 7pm and 10pm averaged 6.2 million viewers (28% audience share) and the Sport Relief programmes on BBC One between 10.50pm and 1am averaged 2.6 million viewers (29% audience share).