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Fakery row: Top Gear in a jam?

2012-03-15 10:29

JUST A JOKE: James May and the super-rare Ferrari in a staged traffic jam - how the Daily Mail showed the BBC image.

Risqué remarks, faking segments, angry automakers Nissan and Tesla...Top Gear is no stranger to controversy.

In a  heart-stopping scene any petrolhead could appreciate, the final episode of the most recent season had presenter James May driving a R67-million Ferrari California Spider, owned by DJ Chris Evans, through a traffic jam filled with learner drivers.

A particular nail-biting moment occurred when May was forced to reverse into a tight space after getting stuck behind three cars which he can be heard saying: "Oh God not here, don’t say you want to go backwards."


The UK's Daily Mail reports that the episode sparked yet another "fakery" controversy.  An instructor for the Clearway Driving School said the scene was filmed in November, 2009, and that the drivers were approved instructors and NOT learners. The instructor told theDaily Mail : "We were told not to bring learner drivers because of the value of the car, so it was the instructors who were really doing the driving.

"Their remit was to get in his way and make life awkward for him. We were there for comic effect."

Behind the wheel May kept up the suspense in the show: "I’m on real roads, with real cars."

Top Gear responded by telling the Daily Mail the show was "not a documentary and the viewers are intelligent enough to know some elements of the programme are for entertainment". The statement added: "But sections, for example race results, car reviews and challenges, are sacrosanct and never manipulated."

A BBC spokesman retorted: "Where James met three driving school cars, it was a light-hearted take on the perils of driving one of the rarest and most valuable cars on the road."


The Daily Mail reports another BBC spokesman as saying: "As an entertainment programme, Top Gear prides itself on making silly films that don't pretend to represent real life. Any suggestion it deliberately misled viewers is patently ludicrous."

Wheels24 can't see how the episode would be considered on par with faking Tesla Roadster segments or the Nissan LEAF performance we reported earlier in 2011.

Is Top Gear allowed to use "creative licence" as an entertainment show or should the programme avoid faking segments? Share your thoughts in the Readers' Comments section.

Watch the video below: Skip ahead to 04:00 to watch May and the fake learners


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