Top Gear is a British motoring show that airs on the BBC. Like Doctor Who, it became a hit in its second incarnation with its the new format, introduced in 2002, co-hosted/co-presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May until March 2015. It was viewed by over 300 million people worldwide. This new format became of particular interest to Whovians for a variety of reasons.
The Master of the Universe Edit
There was a segment on Top Gear in which they tried to find the fastest "Master of the Universe" around the track. There were three Doctor Who characters - a Dalek, Cyberman and Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor - as well as Darth Vader from Star Wars, a Klingon from Star Trek and Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon. During the sketch, the Cyberman struggled to get its helmet on and so Darth Vader had to help. During the Cyberman's lap, the Doctor's TARDIS appeared and the Cyberman skidded the car off course to avoid crashing into it. When it was the Dalek's turn, the Dalek couldn't get in the car and was disqualified, leading it to exterminate the Cyberman, Darth Vader and a fleeing Ming with the help of another Dalek. The Cyberman went on to win with the fastest time but did not answer any questions about how it felt afterwards because it had no emotions.
Max Warp Edit
In February 2008, Big Finish Productions released the Eighth Doctor audio story Max Warp, written by Jonathan Morris, which parodied several elements of Top Gear. The titular show, Max Warp, is a show about spaceships presented by Geoffrey Vantage (voiced by Graeme Garden), O'Reilley (James Fleet) and Timbo (Duncan James), each a parody of the then-Top Gear hosts.
Geoffrey Vantage is an unflattering parody of Clarkson, portrayed as a rude, sexist, racist, politically incorrect and anti-environmental media personality and columnist who is disrespectful towards his co-hosts. He plays the villain of the story, and is sacked and arrested for attempted murder and trying to start a second war against the Kith, having served as a test pilot in the previous war.
O'Reilley, a spaceship expert, parodying May, is portrayed as old fashioned, timid, boring and prone to rambling on about details of little interest to other spaceship enthusiasts. He ultimately loses his patience with how he is treated by Vantage and snaps, stands up to him and orders his arrest.
Timbo, a parody of Hammond, is nicknamed "the Ferret" in reference to Hammond's nickname, Hamster. Timbo, the daredevil pilot, loses control of a spaceship and crashes at the beginning of the story, which is also a reference to a crash Hammond was involved in in 2006.
The story concludes with an acknowledgement of how Top Gear became popular for its unusual yet entertaining approach for a car show. With Vantage sacked, O'Reilley changes the direction of Max Warp to a show more focused on straightforward spacecraft reviews and other transport-related histories and overviews, akin to more traditional car shows including Top Gear's pre-2002 incarnation. Lucie Miller opines "He's gonna get it axed." The Eighth Doctor initially tries to be more optimistic and suggests "people might like the show if it's actually about spaceships" before backing down agreeing with Lucie that it will be axed. He is upset about the removal of his favourite part of the show, the Funky Board, a reference to Top Gear's Cool Wall.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car Edit
Top Gear also hosts a challenge almost every episode in which celebrity guests race around the Top Gear test track, designed by Lotus on the Dunsfold Aerodrome runways outside the hangar that houses the studio, in, as the name suggests, a "reasonably priced car" such as a Suzuki Liana, Chevrolet Lacetti, Kia Cee'd or Vauxhall Astra Tech Line in a bid to post the fastest possible lap, with each lap being preceded and accompanied by an interview with Clarkson. This has given Doctor Who stars the chance to race not only other famous faces but also each other.
- Rowan Atkinson
- Bill Bailey
- Sanjeev Bhaskar
- Martin Clunes
- James Corden
- Brian Cox
- Stephen Fry
- Michael Gambon (who has the last corner named after him)
- Hugh Grant
- Simon Pegg
- Anne Robinson
- David Walliams
- Trinny Woodall & Susannah Constantine
- Joanna Lumley
Hijinks With The Major Stars Edit
As it has turned out, Eccleston using a Liana with an automatic transmission during his 2005 lap (a 1:52.4, the slowest of any Doctor Who star) since he wasn't licensed to drive the regular manual-transmission Liana was the least of the hijinks that ensued when Doctor Who major stars took to the track. During her 2007 lap, Piper, who was in a Lacetti, cut across Hammerhead (a challenging left turn into a right-hand hairpin-like turn) and was also on the wrong side of Chicago's line, prompting the Stig (the show's mute and stoic "tame racing driver") to recommend a 3-second penalty - but Clarkson couldn't bring himself to enforce it when he saw that Piper had arrived for the interview in a see-through top, and her time of 1:48.3 stood.
Tennant, who appeared that December, was not pleased at Clarkson being lenient, claiming she had "drove a track that she made up", only for Clarkson to explain that the see-through-top had stayed his hand and later joking that had he worn a see-through top himself, he would have been "faster than Simon Cowell (who had posted a record lap)." As it turned out, Tennant had so much trouble with third gear that he wrecked the first Lacetti he was driving and ended up posting a time of 1:48.8 - which would have beaten Piper's time had the penalty been enforced! Piper's time, however, stood as the best time by a Doctor Who major star until Smith's appearance in 2012. Armed with the knowledge of what his predecessors had posted (he mentioned their times before his was revealed), he dropped Piper's time by 4.6 seconds to 1:43.7 in the Cee'd.
The Doctor Who Top Gear leaderboard Edit
|Place||Name (Doctor Who Role)||Car||Time|| Original Air|
- Note: The Stig recommended a three-second penalty for Piper for cutting out Hammerhead and being on the wrong side of the line in Chicago, but Clarkson did not enforce it.
- All laps were dry. Eccleston was also the only one to use a car with an automatic transmission since he wasn't licensed to drive one with a manual transmission.
"Star In A Reasonably Priced TARDIS" Edit
In 2008, the BBC's Simon Catt inspired Matt Taylor of the network's Repeats and Reversioning team to combine Tennant's Top Gear lap with TARDIS clips from Doctor Who. The end product was a video that used the audio and studio clips of Tennant's lap with commentary from both Tennant and Clarkson and the Doctor Who opening theme in the background, but instead of showing the Lacetti and Tennant at the wheel, it featured clips of the TARDIS in flight and Tennant as the Tenth Doctor at the controls, with the footage including the highway chase in TV: The Runaway Bride and the bumpy landing "across the line" in the Powell Estate street in TV: The Christmas Invasion. It was dubbed "Star in a Reasonably Priced TARDIS" or "Doctor Who Meets Top Gear."
Catt and Taylor's boss Gill Holmes not only liked it, but was so impressed that he forwarded it to Mark Harrison, Head of the BBC's Multiplatform Studio. From there, it went even further to Peter Salmon, Chief Creative Officer of the BBC Vision Studio - who was due to visit the Top Gear team soon. He showed the clip to Clarkson and Top Gear Executive Producer Andy Wilman - and they loved it and gave it their blessing to post online. A fan later did much the same thing with Eccleston's lap and uploaded it to YouTube.
- The Daleks are mentioned in the show on occasion - for example, Clarkson mentioned them when talking about baddies who can't be killed in order to segue into issues posed by Top Gear's perennial baddie - the caravan - and the caravan airship segment featuring May and Hammond.
- Not long after the airing of TV: Silence in the Library, a clip from the episode was shown on Top Gear where a space suited figure approached the Doctor and Donna and Clarkson commented, "The Stig has been moonlighting". He further said that to keep his identity a secret, he tore his face off and a picture of a Vashta Nerada-controlled skeleton inside the suit was shown.
- The props of the New Dalek Paradigm Supreme and Drone Daleks were seen on an episode of Top Gear during a segment where May hosted a race between two free runners and a motorcyclist through the BBC Television Centre.