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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Just What Is It That Makes Today's Clarkson So Dismal, So Appalling?

It's nearly Christmas, which means that there's absolutely nothing on the telly. Why else was I reduced to watching Top Gear last night? It's the very first time I've ever sat through more Top Gear longer than it takes to locate any other random channel with the remote. On BBC 1 there was festive repeated stabbing in Hallowe'en, on Channel 4 they were droning on about Noah, and I didn't even bother to check ITV; so I was stuck with Jeremy Clarkson. Any milk of human kindness appropriate to the festive season instantly evaporated...

Clarkson's loathsomeness has been expounded upon the other day in the Observer magazine, where you can read all about him ramming elderly trees and churning up virgin hillsides as part of the Top Gear experience. But you really need to see him in action to get a flavour of how hateful he is.

In a cunning move, the producers of Top Gear have surrounded him with two strikingly similar toadies, in open-necked shirts tucked in to slacks, and dark jackets. Clarkson himself sports the dark jacket, a really horrid mossy-green polo shirt, and ball-crushingly tight blue jeans , for the complete mid-life crisis look. Here's a man both failing to look smart-but-casual, and trying not to look like he's trying, because he's so cool. If it's that hard to say just imagine what it looks like. He's so darn cool in fact that he wears exactly the same outfit every time you see him. He makes Simon Cowell look like Steve McQueen.

Worse, the toadies - a dwarf and a man with floppy hair - are trying to look like him. I can only assume they are hoping that one day they can host terrible programmes of their very own, buy their own sports cars, and career down the motorway at 130mph, stroking the gearstick rhythmically to the sounds of Phil Collins.

Much of Top Gear is taken up by seeing which of two cars can go faster around a track. "Let's pit a Mitsubishi Evo against an Audi Quattro!" Clarkson blathers, asking the studio audience which they think can go faster. Astoundingly, they are split 50-50, which is the distribution you'd expect if they neither knew nor cared. (I forgot who won.)

Next we had the second part of a race between the toadies and Jeremy to see who could get from London to Verbier quickest. The toadies would take the planes, trains, and buses, and Clarkson would be taking a Ferrari. We joined him in France, where he'd just got a speeding ticket. This didn't deter him at all, and I watched as he shot down the French motorways at some obscene speed, with one hand on the wheel, chatting to the camera in his passenger seat. Yes, this is what I pay my license fee for - stuff live cricket, let's have an overpaid tosser endanger the lives of Frenchmen!

Clarkson likes to paint himself as a sort of oppressed patron saint of the automobile, assailed on every side by the powerful and ruthless environmentalists who run our governments. (He's also one of those people who's always complaining about 'Political Correctness'. Funny, those guys who are always going on about how diabolical lefties are trying to muzzle them - they tend to get lucrative broadcasting contracts rather than getting chucked into the gulags.) So this whole reckless endeavour was, for him, a symbol of the struggle between the car and - shudder! - integrated transport systems.

Well, he got there first. And he was very, very smug about it. Clarkson seemed to think that he'd proved some sort of point - that Greenpeace might as well pack up and go home. And it's true - he had shown that rather than take a plane, a train, and a bus journey to the ski slopes, it was in fact quicker to buy a £60,000 sports car and drive at top speed to Switzerland, breaking the law, risking life and limb on icy mountain passes, staying awake for 11 hours of continuous driving, and spending hundreds of pounds on petrol. Quicker by 300 seconds. Good for you, Jeremy. Next time, could we have less of the smugness and more of the losing control on hairpin Alpine bends? A bit more of the being scraped from your flaming, twisted metal coffin like so much raspberry conserve? That would be lovely.


Blogger Christopher said...

I agree with you about that Clarkson. He is such a twat and he is always on tv!?!?

In fact, tv at Christmas is just plain shit. I think the BBC and ITV do it on purpose just so we have to spend Christmas time actually talking to our families, so annoying.

Keep up the good work with the blog!


7:02 pm  

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