In recent days, I have been viewing lots of episodes and features from the UK version of Top Gear.
For me this TV programme is one of the few redeeming pop-cultural features of modern Britain, especially its latter-day incarnation starring the triumvirate of Clarkson, Hammond and May. Not only is it great, high-quality entertainment, but it also annoys, irritates and infuriates all the right people.
The way in which the show was allowed to evolve was masterly, even though some of the banter and scenarios were clearly contrived. My view is that the show peaked about three or four years ago, in terms of the spontaneity of the dialogue, and overall inventiveness. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it runs the risk nowadays of appearing a little stale and repetitive.
One thing which does surprise me somewhat is that the current format, and its agenda, have been allowed to survive and flourish amidst the world-view of those who run and/or control the BBC. If the revenue generated was not so lucrative, it would likely have been jettisoned on the grounds that it does not conform to the Glorious Five Year Plan.
My theory as to the appeal of Top Gear in recent years is that, in addition to its sense of fun and technical gloss, it represents an oasis of non-conformism and extravagance, in an ever more controlled and legislated world. It is perhaps no coincidence that much of the humour in the show pokes fun at the Nanny State and officialdom generally. For a libertarian-minded person like myself, the show ticks many of the right boxes....