Jezza, Captain Slow and The Hamster are back at it again, returning to the BBC for the 18th series of one of the world’s most popular shows. “Top Gear” has become so successful since the airing of its 2002 reboot it has inspired several spin-off shows all around the world, none of which compare remotely to the United Kingdom’s version, largely because of the charisma of its hosts: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. The British auto show features test drives, celebrity interviews, racing and commentary about anything relevant to the lives of British drivers. Arguably the best parts of the show are the challenges that pit the three hosts against one another, often with the help of their anonymous “tame racing driver,” The Stig.
“Top Gear” has already attracted some controversy in the last month. The Dec. 28 release of the “India Special” prompted an outcry from critics, including the High Commission of India in London, for having vaguely racist undertones. Indeed, the premise of the adventure was to market British goods to the subcontinent through a series of culturally insensitive, slapstick and often terribly clever challenges. Fans of the show know this is not the first controversy to hit the “Top Gear” studio, nor will it be the last. Clarkson has built a well-deserved reputation for brutal honesty and for not pulling punches, especially in regard to issues he is passionate about.
While “Top Gear” is readily available in much of Europe, it is somewhat harder to track down in the U.S. This has led many fans to BitTorrent, but for those who want to stay on the legal side of the fence, new “Top Gear” episodes can be purchased on Amazon Instant Video and some other streaming services. The first episode of the new season premieres this Saturday on BBC.