The Top Gear India Special aftermath

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The India Special was one of the most anticipated Top Gear episodes in recent memory – it held a lot of promise but in the end it delivered very little and caused quite a stir on topgear.com.

As the credits rolled and I turned the TV off, it left me wondering how they stuffed it up so badly. We were told to expect a 1,300 mile journey across India, but due to the way the show was edited, it felt more like 100 miles.

Instead of seeing more of this amazing country, we had to sit and suffer through the boys ‘revolutionising’ the Dabbawala lunch delivery system in Bombay, their utterly stupid party in Delhi – and why did they decide to get on the train? Who organises a road trip across a foreign country and then loads their vehicle on a train? I was not alone with my opinion.

Never before has a Top Gear episode been almost universally slammed by the large number of dedicated fans around the world. Negative comments on the official TopGear website were submitted in such large amounts that the blog post itself was moved off the main page, in an effort to hide it somewhat. They make for interesting reading.

I believe it would have been a lot better if they ditched the whole ‘trade mission’ theme and simply bought 3 bangers and drove from one side of India to the other. The episode itself was 90 minutes long, suggesting a lot of things could be crammed into the time slot – but very little was actually done or achieved. I would say if you combined the Dabbawala food delivery sequence, pointless hill climb event & Delhi party piece together, you’d have a solid 30 minutes of wasted time. Wasted time which could have been used to show us India. Plus, wrecking the XJS was criminal, it was a stunning looking car and also quite rare in that particular model/configuration. The Mini and the Rolls also bore the brunt of Top Gear’s modifications and staged ‘humor’ – and may be restorable but I doubt anyone would ever save them – it simply wouldn’t be worth the money to do so.

Towards the end of the episode. when Jeremy, Richard and James were sitting around the campfire imagining themselves doing a luxury roadtrip from Monaco to Portofino in three supercars – I couldn’t help but think how much more interesting that challenge would have been.

(EDIT: I have been informed that Andy Wilman’s response was indeed fake and it has been removed from this post. Apologies.)
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14 COMMENTS

  1. OCD grammar nazi here: It’s Delhi. Not Deli. Although I’m sure there are Delis in Delhi. Otherwise, thumbs up to you good sir.

  2. I was gutted as soon as I saw Hammond roll up in that exquisite Mini as I was sure it would end up in pieces. As it got further and further into the episode with the Mini undamaged, things were looking up – then that terribly staged winch scene happened and they ripped it apart.
    The specials have been on the whole very disappointing aside from the polar and Boliva specials IMO.

    • I watch TopGear to see Clarkson hooning about not to see him play the drums badly. It’s like invite Wayne Rooney onto Football Focus to discuss his political views.

  3. I was hoping for Vietnam or Bolivia special but in India. My wife thought it was funny – she’s from India and knows its staged – but I just felt embarrassed. Maybe its because I expected more and she calls them ‘the three idiots’.

  4. I think this happens with all highly anticipated things. We want it to happen so badly that we let ourselves dream up how we want it to be. And, of course, we aren’t the editors so it isn’t what we wanted. I have had this happen with everything that I can’t wait for, therefore, I no longer watch movie trailers. I loved this episode of TG, as I have every other episode. However, I do agree that it was not really what I was expecting. But, I think that was more my fault for creating expectations knowing I shouldn’t.

    Fantastic site! Now I am going to find an episode to watch for the twenty-millionth time on Netflix.

    • That’s true – it would be extremely hard for them to “one-up” themselves. To make every Top Gear episode better than the last. But people are always going to have expectations! If I don’t enjoy an episode very much, I try to find a few redeeming features – and generally I can. But really there was nothing in this episode at all. Definitely no reason to watch it a second time.

      If you haven’t found an episode on Netflix yet, check out Series 6 Episode 2. Another classic Top Gear Cheap Car Challenge – and while it didn’t quite make our Top 10 list, it was very close!

  5. I agree chaps. This one was a bit rubbish, but look at the standard they set.!.! Bolivia! Botswana! USA!!!
    I’m not one to write them off just yet but they may (hold on to your hat) have peaked I’m afraid.
    I never saw the ‘formula’ before but now I’m starting to see it:
    Go somewhere exquisite/inhospitable/unusual, get cars unsuited for the journey, cock things up at various stages but get to the destination in the end and marvel at the accomplishment.

    But: Even at their worst TG is still far and away better than anything else on telly, and I’ve only seen one of Clarkson’s DVD specials. The Reliant Robin segment alone (Clarkson crashing every 25 feet) was funnier than any comedy show. You can’t beat that easily.

  6. Huge fan of this show but they lost me after the India episode. I cannot how disrespectful they were towards the country and their people. How sad to see them taking the micky out of people’s jobs as dabbawallas and other people’s lunches. Disgusting and thoroughly disappointed!

  7. This was only the 2nd season I have watched. I loved it, watching it with my son’s is the best part. I like the cars they like the humor. I had also watched the US version and the India special was better than any of the episodes here in the US.

  8. I’ve had to let some time pass before I could judge the episode. My gut feeling is that the production team realized that it would be very difficult to film a 1,300 mile journey across India. It would begin to feel a lot like “long way round” during the Road of Bones sequences. India has a very poor rural road network and massive traffic problems in the cities. As such, it would be 90 minutes of watching them idle in traffic or face head-on collisions and near-misses on Indian roads so poor that they’d wreck the cars.

    Much of the criticism of the US Road trip in their used cars was that it was mostly highways and secondary roads, with speed limits in the 45 to 60 MPH range. It didn’t have the pizzaz of Vietnam or the allure of Bolivia– India would have been a sort of nasty mix of both.

  9. The India episode had so much promise, but they wasted it completely. It’s a real pity. Perhaps they do it again and try it differently. India is a crazy country, you do not need to try too hard to have fun!!

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