Sunday, June 25

Clash of the car shows

There's a reason to watch Channel 5 that isn't CSI:Miami. Gareth Crew wonders whether it's as good as Top Gear

It used to be so simple. There was only one, it had the budget of David Beckham’s weekly lip balm allowance and less style than those two Princes (chino’s and woolly jumpers – come on! This ain’t an advert for Harvard) but it told you about cars. Tony Mason, Tiff Needell, That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™ and that northern bloke talking about motorbikes. That was it. But then it changed……

It wasn’t just enough to tell you the MPG (whatever that means) of the latest Peugeot 205, you had to be ‘entertained’.

Channel 5 then occurred and as well as being the leading voice questioning whether Hitler was gay and enhancing the careers of Rutger Hauer, Steven Seagal and Shannon Tweed, they also created a little car program.

Back with Auntie Beeb and That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™ left and even though it had Kate Humble presenting it, Top Gear was scrapped. (Now I’m not sure that’s all historically accurate – but you get the idea)

Click it into sixth to the modern day: Top Gear v 5th Gear – who’s better??
Let’s start with the laughable Top Gear.

Presenters: That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™, even taller, fatter, mouthier but less hairy; that posh bloke who doesn’t like Bill Bryson; that small bloke who stood in for Paul ‘I’m David Letterman don’t you know’ O’Grady, and The Stig.

The Show: Ok, first off, in my objective way. It’s rubbish. Top Gear was and always should be a show about cars. It’s not about racing mountain bikes, car football and ‘The Stig’ it should be about how the cars have improved, why they’re better (I’m not talking cost here). I’m honestly convinced that if you approached the Top Gear production team, and I use that term loosely, you could convince them to run a piece for their show that involved taping a load of ferrets together and racing them, up a hill, against a TVR driven by That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™ and Davina McCall. Now what does that prove?

Let me, dear readers, discuss a piece on their last show. Football cars. How very entertaining. But didn’t you see that it rained, then ‘as the game progressed’ the car park was dry, then wet again? And the score, 3 – 3 I think. Excellent, you couldn’t write a script like that could you? This was also the launch of the new Volkswagen Kitten or something. I’m sure they would be so pleased to see their cars smashed up – really demonstrating their potential there guys! So, a new economy car on the market, wouldn’t we, gasp, want to know how e-c-o-n-o-m-i-c-a-l it would be? I must be old fashioned.

And then there’s the Stig. Good driver, but has he been in a smelting accident that means he looks worse than That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™? Why does he have to be covered up? Does he have less middle England views than That Tall Mouthy Hairy Bloke™? Oh yes, and don’t get me started on those CD’s he listens to on his hot laps – could they be dubbed over anymore obviously?

But where, if we don’t have the internet and live in a cave, can we get the information that matters such as the insurance group of a Honda Jazz? Oh yes, Channel 5 (or snowland as I call it with my terrestrial signal) and 5th Gear.

Presenters: Vikki-Posh-Totty-Henderson-Plum-In-Her-Mouth, That bloke who’s like Justin Lee Collins and those two racers.

First off. It’s cheap. I’m not talking cheap in the sense of Blue Peter mothers’ day present cheap, I mean it is shot in an office block, and not a nice one at that. Obviously someone bought a camcorder off E-bay once the Blair Witch Project had flickered out and that was the ‘studio shots’ sorted.

Now for the testing, yes that’s right, testing. When they drive a car, they (whisper it) tell you what the car is about. They still use stupidly catchy music and vertigo inducing shots (see, the camcorder’s cheap – you can throw it about) but they tell you about the car.

I, with my thermos flask, boiled eggs and envy of Duane Dibley’s confidence want to know how much more torque the 1.6 engine has over the 1.4. I want to know the fuel consumption figures, depreciation figures and to see Vikki in her short skirts! Oops. That last one slipped out there…
She’s wicked, although she does sound like a cross between Kathleen Turner and Michael Gambon. Which brings me to my next point. You want to hear what these presenters have to say. They’ve actually been there, (even the Justin Lee Collins look-alike). They’re racers and journalists, and that’s who should tell you what cars to buy; not people who’s secret ambition is to be a guest on ‘Loose Women’ and chew the fat with Nadia Sawalahaha.

But, like every show apart from Spaced, it does have a down side, such as: adverts, being on Channel 5, and those competitions (obviously, due to the unique way the BBC is funded those jokers can smash up cars at our expense).

An example of one of Channel 5’s ‘competitions’:

Win a brand new Bugatti Veron, a mansion in Buckinghamshire and a month in Australia. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

Fernado Alonso is the current F1 World Champion. Who is the current World Champion?

Fernado Alonso

Tony Blair

Jorge Lorenzo

Text a, b or c to 5675868 and you can win. Texts cost £78 plus standard network charge, and you’ll be bombarded with additional text messages that will cost you £50 a go and you’ll get 5 a day. To stop Texts, simply discover a way to levitate and go to the offices on the 25th hour on the 13th Month. This does not affect your statutory rights.

But, I guess they have to pay for the throat spray for Vikki.

To conclude: 5th Gear’s a car show, if you want to see cars tested, watch 5, and if you’re stupid enough to enter the competitions, you deserve everything you get.

If you want to be loosely entertained after Malcolm In The Middle on a Sunday night by people who think Wankel is a rude word, stick with Top Gear.

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