When I tell people I’m a motoring journalist, they instantly assume they know what my favourite TV show needs to be. Oh, I bet you love Top Gear, they say.
And after that I have to admit to not loving it. Or liking it even.
I’ve certainly tried to like it: after all, it represents an opportunity to combine watching telly with being able to tell myself, I’m working because actually, this counts as research.
But it’s still a no.
Why I don’t like Top Gear
My driving life, and my journalism is centered on everyday motoring – how to get the best deal on car insurance, for example, while keeping fuel costs down.
So, i fight to get interested in items on unaffordable supercars, and the various challenges and pranks engaged in by the laddish presenters Hammond, Clarkson and may even.
Is it because I’m not the target audience?
Top Gear producer Andy Wilman recently said: Top Gear is just an hour of escapism fronted by three badly dressed middle-aged men.
Top Gear for ‘people with mental age of nine’
He added that a lot of the show is aimed at people with a mental age of nine.
Well, I’m a woman and my mental age is considerably older than nine, however i know plenty of women both older and younger than me who enjoy the programme.
Top Gear certainly doesn’t need me to increase its viewing figures, however.
It’s a hugely popular programme worldwide, having aired in 170 different countries. And when the show returned for its 21st series it netted over 5 million viewers.
I don’t think that Top Gear should be changed – it’s very successful by itself terms.
BBC Four’s A303: Highway towards the Sun
But I’d prefer to see motoring shows with reviews of cars I might actually buy, Supernanny giving advice concerning how to get kids to behave in the car, and fun items on scenic drives.
StonehengeThe motoring programme I enjoyed the most in recent years was BBC Four’s A303: Highway on the Sun.
It absolutely was a documentary about the road that passes Stonehenge, pictured right, and through Dorset and Devon.
It featured writer Tom Fort driving the 92-mile length of the A303 in a Morris Traveller.
It was actually full of fascinating information about the path and its history and there wasn’t a laddish joke or anyone driving ridiculously fast around an evaluation circuit to be seen. Bliss.
Tim Barnes-Clay, Confused.com’s car reviewer, says it’s not just women who tune out when Top Gear comes on…
They say you ought to never meet your heroes and in my case it’s true. In the late 1980s/early 1990s I loved Top Gear and was a huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson.
But then our paths crossed in 1996 when I was working in TV and filmed him at the Car Show in Birmingham.
He was being his usual controversial self and, though it was tongue-in-cheek, I felt he was deliberately playing a character and therefore he wasn’t as passionate about cars as I’d thought.
‘My four-year-old son loves Top Gear’
I stopped watching around that time and I’ve only got back in it because my four-year-old son is a big fan.
We watch old episodes together and he loves the fast cars and the loud screeching noises.
But I get the modern show a bit too scripted and contrived – it’s like it’s turn into a parody of itself.