Top Gear Australia wins second series

SBS has hit the “GO” light on pre-production for a second season of Top Gear Australia, despite some viewer criticism of the local hosts.

The broadcaster says a second series will go to air “as early as possible” in 2009.

The series has rated in the high 600,000s for its second and third weeks, dropping from its premiere of 933,000. By SBS standards, it’s still a solid audience, though about a third behind the UK original.

Meanwhile SBS has been swift to boast that Jeremy Clarkson has given the series a thumbs up.

“Massive congratulations from the Top Gear boys in England on your Australian version. We’re loving it, even though your funny accents make you hard to understand,” said Clarkson.

Clarkson is said to have commented on the chemistry between the three hosts, the set and camera work.

“And Warren the cartoonist, his face underwater was an absolute peach,” said Clarkson.

Aussie viewers haven’t been quite as generous with many dubbing the three hosts as clones of the original. But for SBS having both a local and international series is probably its best case scenario. The Aussie series can fill in the months in between UK episodes, allowing one brand to sit regularly in the 7:30pm Monday timeslot. Other international versions are due in the US, Russia and Germany.

In tonight’s episode Jack Thompson is the “Celebrity in a Bog Standard Car” while Shannon Noll visits next week.

Press Release:
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has given his thumbs up to Top Gear Australia, the first locally produced version of the global motoring entertainment phenomenon, on air Monday nights on SBS.

He contacted Top Gear Australia’s Freehand production team after watching the show to personally give his approval.

“Massive congratulations from the Top Gear boys in England on your Australian version. We’re loving it, even though your funny accents make you hard to understand,” said Clarkson.

After watching the first episode, Clarkson commented on the great chemistry between the three hosts, how good the set looked and the program’s great camera work.

“And Warren the cartoonist, his face underwater was an absolute peach,” said Clarkson.

SBS Director of Television and Online, Matt Campbell said Clarkson’s comments reinforce the network’s confidence in Top Gear Australia being a continuing, long term success for SBS.

“We’ve received the blessing from the Godfather of the Brand! The praise from the Top Gear UK Mother Ship gives SBS and the Freehand production team added enthusiasm as we continue to work on Series One and begin pre-production for Series Two – which will go to air on SBS as early as possible in 2009.”

Tonight Top Gear Australia test the fastest Australian car ever built, pit a satellite navigator against a local Aboriginal tracker. The lads also play lawn bowls with Holden Astras and iconic Australian actor, Jack Thompson is the “Celebrity in a Bog Standard Car”.

Top Gear Australia Mondays at 7:30pm on SBS.

Press Release (Oct 27):
This week in Top Gear Australia hosts Charlie Cox, Warren Brown and Steve Pizzati continue a Top Gear tradition, they investigate the ‘Toorak Tractor’ phenomenon and review the Lamborghini Gallardo-inspired Audi R8 and BMW 135 Coupé.

How hard can it be to convert a car into an amphibious car? The UK hosts had a couple of goes and now it’s Australia’s turn. To find out our boys set off to the heart of the Whitsundays for Hamilton Island’s prestigious Audi Race Week.

Getting into the spirit of the week-long sailing event, the lads get busy converting their own Audi into a road and seafaring machine. Enter the NautiCar or as the guys dubbed it – the Audi H2O. With Steve at the helm, Admiral Charlie yelling instructions from the backseat and Warren contributing with Titanic comparisons, the Audi H2O and crew set off ready for race action. Can Top Gear Australia get one up on the UK and win race week’s “Best Fun Themed Yacht” award in the process or will they be doomed to the ocean floor?

Charlie takes the Audi R8 for a blistering test on the Hamilton Island runway. It’s claimed to be a ‘practical supercar’. Does practical equal boring?

“It looks like a nuclear powered supercar but it’s really practical,” said Charlie. “Practical supercar – it’s like a non-threatening scud missile, safe explosives, user friendly hand grenade.”

Steve checks out the sporty BMW 135 Coupé.

Warren and Steve stretch a point to its limit and beyond. 4WDs are meant for the bush but they’re so common in affluent suburbs they’ve become known as Toorak Tractors. How will Toorak react to a real tractor as a shopping and commuting vehicle?

Australia’s favourite Idol, Shannon Noll (What About Me, Drive, Loud), is the “Celebrity in a Bog Standard Car”.

21 Comments:

  1. I think the local production had some very big shoes to fill and I for one feel they did quite a good job, especially the last one. The Tassie bit was sensational as was the Rangie v the Lexus. Looking forward to next year and good on SBS for giving it a fair go. The idiots the bag everything are pathetic and have no idea of production whatsoever.

  2. In the words of Jeremy Clarkson “ What a load of rubbish”. Well may not have said that about Top Gear Australia, but let me tell you I watched the first night, the formula was to much like the U.K version and they tried to hard.

    The following week I went back to the repeat programs on Foxtel, they were at least entertaining.

    Finally my last piece of advice to SBS, run the repeats from the U.K with Jeremy Clarkson, then people will return.

  3. Fell asleep during this weeks episode…..I am not even bothering to watch next episode. Clarkson’s comments are clearly tongue in cheek and hand in wallet. Producers must know how crap it is but are desperate to keep their jobs and credibility. The phrase ‘cringe worthy’ captures the true essence of TGA and I have never seen it used so much before….lol.
    At least it is better than Bogan Pride…..ha ha ha.

  4. As someone that grew up with TGGB I’ve seen it evolve over the years. Anyone that has seen, say, a 1988 show (I recently dug one out to check) would probably cringe even more. Give the local version a chance; I’m sure the show will bed-in during the second series.

    Also, congrats to SBS for not hitting the panic button and pulling it after a drop in the ratings. Some shows take a while to mature and the three big channels here just don’t seem to have the patience, faith or the testicles required to sit back and wait.

  5. Jezza of the city

    Four episodes of series one and all you whinging aussies want to ditch this great show. The presenters are begining to gel, just be patient and give it time that is how great series come about. This is not ch 9,7 or 10 popcorn tv.

    It is OK, it doesn’t quite have the panache of TGGB yet, but is slowly and surely developing its own character. To walk a thousand miles, you have to take the first step.

  6. Why is everybody calling this a knock off and aiming vitriol at SBS? It’s a franchise made by a local production company and like any other franchise the head office (BBC) is pulling the strings on format and probably on content. The franchisee (Freehand) is 25% owned by BBC Worldwide anyway.

  7. Most of the reported previews on Top Gear Oz were covered in high praise and unbridled enthusiasm.
    The plaudits were unwarranted as the show is shamelessly contrived,
    Top Gear Oz reminds me of an expensive TV version of NRMA monthly motoring magazine.
    The presenters are “try hard” and the entire production is lame.
    In typical “tick the boxes” TV Executive mentality SBS have delivered a cheap Bangkok Markets “Knock Off” version of a quality OS show all the name of the mindless pursuit of ratings.
    Producing a second series defies logic considering the shows extravagant budget.I expect more circumspect decision making from a network of SBS’s standing.

  8. Anyone else cringe when they saw those brand new Astras being banged into each in the game of bowls? Even if Holden was covering the damage costs it just wasn’t entertaining watching the segment – it was boring. Like watching someone reverse into a car at a supermarket carpark.

    The car football version in the UK show was much more fun to watch and if you want to damage some cars for effect get some old ones launch them off a cliff and fire big weapons at them (also done on the UK show)…

  9. Well, I watched the first three all the way through, albeit with gritted teeth. The fourth episode I fast forwarded through. I think the single word summary is ‘inane’.

    To see a grown man hitting the steering wheel of a car saying ‘faster faster’ is just sad. The scripts are dire. We don’t care about the presenter’s opinions because they don’t have our respect and they aren’t funny.

    Sorry, three talentless goons shouting a lot and driving in shiny cars is not my idea of comedy or entertainment.

  10. I agree with GuanoLad – given enough time the Australian hosts will find their own thing and the show will take its own direction, as it did indeed take a long time for the British hosts to find their footing.

    I’m finding the the show is improving with each episode. But I am a little annoyed about Clarkson saying he can’t understand Australians. I guess that means we Australians are the only ones to understand pretty much every accent in the world.

  11. Even though I find the show cringeworthy, due to the hosts lack of confidence and its adherence to the UK format too closely, I maintain that it has potential, and that with time and a chance for them to relax into their roles, it really could turn out a winner. But it’s not there yet.

    After all, the UK version took years to find its feet.

  12. Um David, my comment of bullshit was aimed at SBS not you or your site and the pay handsomely jibe is aimed at Jeremy Clarkson not you I meant it as sarcassim towards the SBS for getting well paid Jerry to say great things about their aussie version show.

    Don’t stress I love you and your site, i’ll just have to write it better and more clearer so you don’t take it as a personal attack next time. Sorry!

  13. Richard, sorry that’s rubbish. I haven’t made any judgement one way or the other on a second series. I’ve brought you the news of a second series because its newsworthy. I’ve even noted how criticised the hosts are, and didn’t exactly get a glorious review here on its premiere. I also noted they have no forum on their site for readers to make their feelings known.

    I edited out all the glorfying adjectives from the SBS press release. It’s not me who praised the show, it’s Clarkson, and SBS who wasted no time in telling us so.

    I’m not paid by SBS. Their ads appear here as part of Google Ads because Adsense picks up keywords when I write about the show. That’s how Google Ads works. And I’ve printed your criticism because there’s nothing being hidden here.

  14. well, when they pay you handsomely you’ll say anything now won’t you!

    Funny how the sbs manages to get a great comment on all the things that people were critising them on now isn’t it! sniff … sniff, smells like … yes it … sniff … smells like bullshit!

  15. Overall I like the local version and think some just can’t get over the new hosts, great news the Jeremy likes it, it would be nice if the UK guy can come here for some kind of challenge, see how there do down-under!

  16. “Some” viewer criticism?

    Anyone seen the Green Guide letters page the past few weeks?

    Actually, anyone actually know someone who LIKES the local version?

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