Friday, March 21, 2008

Formula 1, Top Gear-style

Rumours are flying in the UK that with the switch of F1 coverage from ITV to BBC next year, Top Gear's Richard Hammond is set to anchor the broadcasts. Furthermore, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Hammond's co-presenters, may also wind up being involved.

I cannot decide how I feel about this idea. I love Top Gear. Despite all its chest-pumping, anti-American vitriol and Clarkson's brainless pontificating, it is a genuinely enjoyable TV show with rich content and extremely high production values. People complain about how TG emphasizes impractical, expensive cars and engages in childish stunts but if you took Top Gear and made it more "practical", less fancy, and with less cartoonish presenters, you'd have Fifth Gear. That show is still enjoyable but is nowhere near as compelling as Top Gear. Thinking about it though, it's the stories in TG that I find most compelling, not the personalities. In F1, we'd be subjected to more personality and less story, so it might get very irritating, very quickly. Even more worrying, despite winning an Emmy for "best unscripted documentary" or something, Top Gear is very tightly scripted, even the road tests, something that the F1 coverage won't be. How will they do without time to work out what they're going to say?

Still, it's an interesting idea. I'm curious to hear from those in the UK what they think of this...


Rob said...

Hammond, I can just about see. Clarkson and May: no way!

My idea scenario would be Hammond in the programme presentation/analysis role, Martin Brundle retained as the ex-driver expert, and someone else in with Brundle doing the live commentary. Anyone but James Allen. Anyone. Even James May.

Jimmy said...

I'm not a huge F1 fan, but I'll stick it on while I read the Sunday papers if there's no 2-wheel action.

Richard "The Hamster" Hammond can be a bit smug and annoying at times, but before his 300mph crash he was presenting about 17 TV shows at the same time, so I think he'd be quite a decent anchor for F1. Having said that, he's into bike racing and has been very disparaging about F1 in the past.

Anyone but James Allen!

Mark said...

Thats fantastic. Now if we could just get BBC America to take F1 rights away from the Nascar.. I mean Speed Channle here in the US..

patrick said...

A former girlfriend of mine whose interest in cars and motorsport is about as great as mine interest in broadway musicals, nonetheless found Top Gear hugely entertaining. By being about entertainment first and cars only second it has huge crossover appeal.

Could they do the F1 coverage? Well, any of them would be an improvement on James Allen. I'd actually quite appreciate James May's calmness, although as far as I'm aware, he has little interest in the sport.

Pee Wee said...

James Allen would have to be the anti-Christ of commentators, don't you think?