Reaching a peak in the 1990s thanks to presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the original series then faced the axe in 2001 - but Clarkson and producer Andy Wilman successfully pitched a new format to BBC bosses and Top Gear returned to become the irreverent, funny and often controversial show we now know and love.
The addition of co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May completed the Top Gear dream team and ratings soared as viewers tuned in to see the latest Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, arguments over the Cool Wall and Power Laps by the mysterious Stig. Recent series have been defined by their madcap challenges, where Clarkson, Hammond and May have achieved such feats as building a convertible Renault Espace and taking part in the 24-hour Britcar race - with predictably hilarious results.
Hour-long specials such as the 1000-mile journey across Africa in cars bought for only GBP1500, and a race to the magnetic North Pole in which Clarkson and May became the first people to drive a motor vehicle to the Pole while Richard Hammond joined a dog sled team, have cemented the Top Gear's reputation as much more than just a motoring show. But the show's most shocking moment came in 2006, when Hammond suffered serious head injuries while driving a Vampire turbojet drag racing car at over 300mph.
Top Gear has long attracted criticism for its dangerous stunts and the presenters' controversial opinions, but thankfully 'the Hamster' made a full recovery and Top Gear has continued to pull in massive audiences across the world. This is the full story of the unstoppable rise of Clarkson, Hammond, May and The Stig - and how they have transformed an ordinary programme about cars into one of the most famous and best-loved TV programmes of the 21st century.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 288 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/02/2011
- Category: Television
- ISBN: 9781843583332