Top Gear was the goose that laid golden eggs, a world-wide commercial success that earned the BBC a fortune and richly deserved plaudits across the globe, but in the end, much to everyone’s surprise, they slit its throat when it started pecking people and let three of the biggest stars on British TV go and work themselves a better deal over on Amazon Prime. Were the BBC betting they’d fail? It wouldn’t be the first time.
The earliest incarnations of Top Gear were somber affairs. Bearded men in knitwear spewing statistics and specifications, the characterless presentation matching the characterless cars, a classic case of the BBC betting that no one but the most ardent petrolhead enthusiast would tune in to watch and thus treating it like One Man And His Dog with wheels.
- $35m Annual Worth
- 350,000,000 Viewers
- 214 Territories
- 6 Regional versions
It was so dull that eventually it petered out and got shelved, until one of the last, and youngest hosts, decided to take the show over and give it a revamp.
Jeremy Clarkson, at the time all height, hair and denim, had never been a great fit for the old format Top Gear and his version, produced by old school chum Andy Wilman, was going to be different. With features like The Cool Wall and Star In A Reasonably Priced Car and bizarrely silent Stig you can be sure early episodes left the BBC betting it wouldn’t get any ratings, and there would have been many at the premier broadcaster of the UK gambling news of this new Top Gear being axed were not far off.
BBC Betting Against Populism Is A Bequest Of Lord Reith
Jeremy Clarkson (source: OnAllCylinders)
The BBC betting on failure is nothing new. Never wishing to be seen to be as conservative as they actually are, dear old Aunty is willing to try anything once, and they prays the things they dislike fail so they don’t have to do them again. Unfortunately the great British public are not quite as high brow as the Oxbridge crowd of Islington liberals that run the BBC and they often watch, in droves, shows that quite frankly incense and offend the pearl clutching snobs in the offices of New Broadcasting House.
The BBC doesn’t like shows like The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing or Top Gear, they believe them to be populist crap and, were it not for their massive popularity, would do away with them in an instant. The success of these shows has never been because of the BBC but in spite of it. The BBC betting against Top Gear making it more than a couple of years a classic example, the antics and attitude of the show appalled them, the viewing figures that came with it were impossible to argue with.
Bet On Motor Sports At BetVictor
Richard Hammond (source: Wikipedia)
Leaving most people watching in the UK gambling laws concerning health & safety alone would put paid to the insane stunts of Richard Hammond, James May and Mr Clarkson Top Gear pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable BBC behavior. They scoffed at liberal bugbears like global warming by driving to the North Pole, took cheap cars across Botswana, rode scooters through Vietnam, traversed the Middle East from Iraq to Israel and completely failed to get to a strip club near Slough.
Described by comedian John Bishop as a “car programme made by three men from the BNP” the BBC betting on the show to fail was only natural, the BBC was far too uptight for what became, over time, a version of Last Of The Summer Wine with wheels and engine fumes, however even they were saddened when the end came and Clarkson staked, or even steaked, himself on the barbs of the popular press like someone who likes to bet on sports in the UK and keeps backing Aston Villa to win the EPL on BetVictor.
What happened to bring down this pillar of the BBC and send it over to Amazon Prime? Find out here.