Fakery row: Top Gear in a jam?

2012-03-15 10:29

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

  • christo.stone - 2012-03-15 11:23

    Who the hell cares? It's an awesome show...if you don't like it, don't watch it! Simple as that.

      Artur - 2012-03-15 11:34

      People always want something to complain about, why dont i see people who watch WWE bitch and moan about all the fakery in that

  • Syd - 2012-03-15 11:28

    Give it a break! Top Gear is entertainment and people who don't like it should just not watch instead of criticizing.

  • James - 2012-03-15 11:36

    Question is, can you do it better? If you can then why not launc your own show - one with no "fakery". A TV has a remote - make your choice - other people find the show entertaining.

  • Cristian - 2012-03-15 11:39

    Top Gear transformed a motoring program from a boring string of facts, figures and numbers that don’t mean much to the average person into a fun and entertaining show about boys being boys and doing what boys do, they play with their toys. Facts and figures cannot give you the whole picture about how it feels to drive a certain car but in the process of having fun the Top Gear boys manage to extract the essence, the important bit, they manage to make us, the average person get some idea about how it FEELS to drive a supercar. If you’re a retard who wants to see boring facts and numbers, guess what?.......There’s a button on your remote control. PUSH IT

      Kyle - 2012-03-15 14:43

      Well Said Cristian!

  • herculesjansenvanvuuren - 2012-03-15 11:53

    I am a religious follower of the weekly antics of James, Richard and Jeremy. They are opinionated, biased and sometimes utterly ridiculousness. So in other words, real blokes. But their knowledge and passion for cars are unquestionable. I take each and every special segment they do, with a pinch of salt.And all true fans do. Will they ever win a Pulitzer for journalism? No. But they have won our hearts, they make us green with envy, and they keep our bellies tight with laughter. And that is all we require to take away from the show.

  • stiaan.schoeman - 2012-03-15 12:03

    When I watched this episode, I immediately realised that this scene was staged. I didn't care that it was. It was still funny.

  • Peter - 2012-03-15 12:06

    Love the show. Everyone who has half a brain and loves TG knows there are some fakery involved, but as long as the outcome is as humorous and light hearted as it usually is then it is worth it. BTW, The Man in the White Suit written by Ben Collins is worth a read, just finished it the other day.

  • Kyle - 2012-03-15 12:39

    Any inelegant person knows that parts of the show are staged. It's called TELEVISION. And I for one don't care - the show is awesome!

  • Nom - 2012-03-15 13:15

    I think 5th Gear is behind this...

  • Dean - 2012-03-15 13:41

    I saw it last nite and enjoyed it. Haters keep hatin'. Top Gear rocks

  • smithcza - 2012-03-15 14:03

    You know, jealousy makes you nasty! If you don't like it, don't watch it! This show is entertainment, it is not a documentary! "An instructor for the Clearway Driving School said the scene was filmed in November, 2009,..." Sounds like sour grapes, propbaly some lame looser that will stay an instruckter for the rest of his life.

  • Hendrik - 2012-03-15 14:11

    So what's the big deal? It is 1st class entertainement, brings a lot of laughs and pleasure to thousands. If there are those who want to "object" to something like that staged, how do they survive watching a movie with a high speed car chase sequence in it? THAT my dear mother grundies is also STAGED, it was not somehting that actually took place.

  • Craig - 2012-03-15 14:42

    this is one of my all time favourite cars and i missed the first half hour of the show,murphy`s law...this ferrari is one of the most beautiful cars in history in my opinion.being an audi fan i could appreciate the humour on their `marketing`stragedies,it was pretty funny.

      Craig - 2012-03-15 15:04

      thanks for posting the vid btw wheels,absolutely fantastic.

  • Gareth - 2012-03-15 15:12

    I'd say, in this story, Chris Evans is the real arse! lending top gear a 5m Quid car...

  • wesleywt - 2012-03-15 16:02

    Seriously? Would you allow real learners within 10 km of that car? Some people should just stfu.

  • rob.joubert - 2012-03-15 17:17

    PEOPLE - grip your knackers (or equivalent) and squeeze / pinch them hard so that you will wake up: Top Gear is purely ENTERTAINMENT (with a few facts added in to the mix to make it more enjoyable) and as such does a marvelous job. Everything the presenters say is merely their opinion!!!! And as many others have said - if you don't like it, just don't watch it!!!

  • flysouth - 2012-03-15 18:39

    Lovely car - and I am sure Scaglietti shaped the metal by hand and eye, since you can see at 5.53 and 6.04 in the vid how the bonnet scoop is not symmetrical.

  • Winston Harris - 2012-03-16 06:48

    how stupid can someone be that actually believes any of their skiets are 100% factual. Like someone stated earlier - the programme is for entertainment... A cow in the bonnet? Racing building jumpers and bmx cyclist...? Really now... Be smarter viewers

  • pages:
  • 1