Top Gear is the BBC's testosterone-saturated fast-car ode.
It's very popular.
Anybody who has some time might want to write to the Guardian
in support of this position:
Scrap Top Gear, say road safety campaigners
Tuesday April 12, 2005
Tuesday April 12, 2005
Road safety campaigners have called on BBC chiefs to axe Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear, claiming it "glamorises speed" and encourages a "yobbish" attitude among drivers.
Transport 2000, whose president is Michael Palin, claimed Top Gear promoted irresponsible driver behaviour and an obsession with big cars. It said the motoring series, one of BBC2's most successful shows with up to 5 million viewers a week, should be replaced by a programme promoting "sensible driving in sensible vehicles".
"It glamorises speed and fails to make the connection with danger on the roads," it said in a statement. "Through the use of Jeremy Clarkson as presenter, with his distinctive image, it is in danger of encouraging a 'yobbish' attitude on the road."
"Everyone is talking about how to reduce car use, cut climate change emissions and make the roads safer, but, to quote in perhaps its own language, Top Gear effectively sticks up its fingers to this," said Steve Hounsham, a spokesman for Transport 2000.
"It is irresponsible, outdated television designed to give comfort to boy racers, petrolheads and those from the 'get out my way' school of driving. We want to see Top Gear taken off the screen."
Co-presented by Richard Hammond and James May, regular Top Gear slots include "star in a reasonably priced car", in which celebrities race around a track as quickly as possible.
Other features in the last series saw Clarkson drive a Ferrari almost non-stop from London to Switzerland in a bid to beat Hammond and May, who were making the same journey on public transport; and May, driving a Mitsubishi, trying to beat Hammond in a bobsleigh. Another feature ended with the three presenters deliberately driving second-hand cars into a brick wall at 30mph to see how they could withstand an accident.
"There is a strong danger that it encourages irresponsible motorist behaviour and it therefore has no place in public service broadcasting," said Hounsham. "This is not about censorship or having a poor sense of humour, it's about what is in the public interest.
"If we must have Jeremy Clarkson on the television, let's give him something useful to do, such as trying out public transport or road-testing new bicycles. Perhaps he would like to drive a bus; he'd find it just as much fun as a Ferrari."
However, a BBC spokesman said the show took safety "very seriously".
"None of the presenters advocate or encourage dangerous driving, and high performance cars are always tested in a controlled and safe environment.
"The programme regularly features discussions of issues across the whole gamut of motoring. It does review fast cars but it has also recently featured the new Smart car, as well as a series of items on restoring cars and a second-hand car challenge. To say Top Gear encourages just a macho or yobbish attitude simply isn't true."
"Half of its regular audience of 3 million viewers is women. A recent example [of discussing green issues] would be in December 2004, when an engine was featured that was half electric and half petrol powered."
But Clarkson made clear his disdain for enhanced health and safety regulations in his Sunday Times column last year, albeit in his slightly tongue-in-cheek style.
"Health and safety is now so out of control that I find it nearly impossible to do my job," he wrote. "Certainly the series I made a few years ago called Extreme Machines simply couldn't be produced today. On Top Gear, we refer to the Health and Safety people as the PPD. The programme prevention department."
It's not the first time Clarkson's presenting style has come under fire. Female subtitlers at the BBC complained two years ago, accusing the show and its star presenter of sexism.
And four months ago Labour MP Andrew Miller said Clarkson should be prosecuted after he drove from London to Brighton in a second-hand Porsche which had illegal levels of fumes belching from the exhaust, a broken speedometer and a windscreen washer that did not work, breaking down five times during his drive. Miller accused the presenter of "turning our motorways into playgrounds".
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities