Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Will we see what they have to offer?
Fans of the BBC’s long-running Top Gear enjoy the presenters’ passion for cars and its creative, cheeky style. But an environmentally-conscious transport show wouldn’t have to be straight laced and po-faced. We’d even keep the spirit of the Top Gear name, calling it instead, Third Gear.
Awww, you’d keep the spirit of the name. But you’d have no problem with castrating the show.
It short, it would be devoted to encouraging responsible motoring based on less environmentally damaging cars, considerate and safety-conscious driving, and thorough exploration of alternatives to the car.
Well, it would certainly cure insomnia. Of course, that would be it’s only benefit to those of us who remain unconvinced by the prospect of lentil soup for all eternity.
But that needn’t exclude Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear’s other petrolhead presenters. Clarkson’s face is as much a fixture on the television screen as Tony the Tiger’s is on a packet of Frosties. And he has his strengths: he is amusing, in a laddish sort of way, and is game for anything.
Or, to rephrase that: he is funny, he has attitudes that people agree with, he is smart, and he calls hippies out for the fools that they are.
Third Gear would give the Top Gear guys the chance to adopt a new image: greener, more caring, willing to slow down for old ladies crossing the road and perhaps even to stop to help the odd cyclist mend a puncture.
“Third Gear would give the Top Gear guys the chance to adopt a new image; they would immiediatly refuse this chance and go on to front a new, highly-rated and commerically successful show on ITV”
So, here’s the running order for the imaginary first two editions of Third Gear, the first to be broadcast on 5 June, World Environment Day, with the follow up a week later during Green Transport Week/Bike Week.
Cheers for the heads up. The week beginning 6th of June is “Hit as many cyclists as you can week”.
Jeremy Clarkson would “test drive” a range of new “shopper” bicycles and assesses the advantages of front basket over rear rack. He takes a trip to his local organic food store and stocks up on green lentils, brown rice and mung beans before stacking them carefully on his bike for the journey home along traffic-calmed Liverpool Road in north London. Once he arrives, he measures the amount of lentils, rice and beans left in the bags before cooking himself a nutritious meal.
You know, I imagine that JC wakes up every morning having had that exact nightmare.
Another presenter would be invited by Transport for London – who run the capital’s public transport – to “see it from the bus driver’s point of view” and operate the No 19 bus through the heart of the city during the morning rush hour. The presenter would begin to appreciate considerate behaviour from motorists, and be pleasantly surprised by the comfortable, value for money journey he provides for his passengers.
He would then realise that he smelled faintly of piss (aroma de l’autobus), that his blood pressure was 150% of normal because of the annoying people on the bus, and that he was still a fifteen minute walk from where he wanted to be because there is no bus-stop in his driveway.
Jeremy again. This time he would test national rail and the London Tube by taking a Brompton folding bicycle from his home in the Cotswolds to Westminster Station, where he would join a demonstration outside Parliament calling for the government to do more to improve public transport. On the way, he harangues and lampoons train and Tube representatives on why they make it so difficult for people with cycles to use public transport.
He would then carefully explain to the hippy producing the show that it is not terribly economical to build a vast underground network of tunnels just so that a lot of sweaty people dragging bikes can take up three people’s spaces on the Northern line.
One of the Top Gear boys would drive from London to Paris in a Smart Car, while his colleagues try out the Eurostar train and a plane journey. On arrival at the Eiffel Tower, they all fill large balloons with gas to represent the amount of carbon dioxide their journeys have pumped into the atmosphere. Green halos all round.
They then attach hippies to each of the balloons and release them into the wild. Then they race to the top of the Eiffel Tower with shotguns, and use the hippies as target practice as they drift ever upwards…
Another presenter spends a week living in a flat alongside the commuter racetrack that is the A40 Westway in London. He comes out with a headache on the 7th day and stops a motorist at random with a list of alternatives for making the journey. The driver finally agrees, under the stare of the cameras, that the next day he will catch the train from Oxford or look at the daily coach service. Presenter takes two aspirin and heads home to recover.
Actually, the driver comes out with a baseball bat and proceeds to batter the preachey bastard to death by the side of the A40. If he wanted a sermon, he’d have gone to church.
Have someone join a police mobile speed camera unit on a dangerous section of the A1 in North Yorkshire. As the police wave drivers into the lay-by, presenter approaches to gently remonstrate with the speeders and sign them up for an advanced driver safety course. Later he joins a demo which 3,500 people lie on the road (which his new police friends have kindly closed off) to represent the total death toll on Britain’s roads each year.
All involved in this segment were summarily shot as Quislings by the cast of the new, highly successful Top Gear rip-off on ITV.
So, would you tune into this new, Transport 2000 show? No? Gee, I wonder why not. Personally, I have something to do at the time it’s on. These toenails won’t cut themselves, you know, and the I’ve got to wash my hair…