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Top Gear is a British motoring magazine and factual television programme. It is a revival of the 1977–2001 show of the same name by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman for the BBC, and premiered on 20 October 2002. The programme focuses on the examination and reviewing of motor vehicles, primarily cars, though this was expanded upon after the broadcast of its earlier series to incorporate films featuring motoring-based challenges, special races, timed laps of notable cars, and celebrity timed laps on a course specially-designed for the relaunched programme. The programme drew acclaim for its visual and presentation style since its launch, which focused on being generally entertaining to viewers, as well as criticism over the controversial nature of its content. The show was also praised for its occasionally-controversial humour and lore existing in not just the automotive community but in the form of internet memes and jokes. The programme was aired on BBC Two until it was moved to BBC One for its twenty-ninth series in 2020.
|Opening theme||"Jessica" by The Allman Brothers Band|
|Composer||Dickey Betts (arr. by Christian Henson)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||33|
|No. of episodes||240 (including 13 specials) (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Dunsfold Aerodrome (2002–2020)|
Television Centre, London (2021–present)
|Running time||60 minutes (normal episodes)|
60–120 minutes (specials)
|Original release||20 October 2002 (2002-10-20) –|
The programme's first series in 2002 was presented by Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and Jason Dawe, with an anonymous test driver "The Stig", an individual played by several different racing drivers over the course of the show's history, being featured; Wilman was the show's executive producer. Following the first series, Dawe was replaced by James May, with the line-up unchanged until the end of the twenty-second series, when the BBC chose to not renew Clarkson's contract on 25 March 2015, following an incident during filming. His dismissal from Top Gear prompted the departure of Hammond, May and Wilman from the programme, who joined Clarkson in forming a new motoring series, The Grand Tour.
After the group's departure, others were appointed as hosts for the programme, including Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, both joined by four co-presenters for the twenty-third series: Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan. After negative feedback on this series, Evans resigned from the programme, with LeBlanc joined by Harris and Reid as the main hosts for the following three series. From the twenty-seventh series onwards (2019), the presenting line-up was changed following the departure of LeBlanc and Reid, with Harris joined by Andrew Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness as the main presenters. This series proved more popular with viewers. On 23 March 2023, the BBC halted the filming of the thirty-fourth series after Flintoff was injured in an accident during filming.
Top Gear has been one of the BBC's most commercially successful programmes since its relaunch. It has become a significant show in British popular culture, with episodes also broadcast internationally in many countries in Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and more, making it the most widely broadcast factual television programme in the world. Its success has led to various forms of merchandising, including live tours, special DVD editions, and books, as well as spawning a variety of international versions in various countries, including the United States, Australia, South Korea, China and France.