Top Gear’s most heart-warming moments - Select Car Leasing
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Top Gear’s most heart-warming moments

All good things must come to an end.

And if recent reports are to be believed, the BBC is about to slam the brakes on its Top Gear motoring show after countless series spanning five decades.

Top Gear has never been short on drama.

But a harrowing accident suffered by host Andrew Flintoff in September of last year, when the 45-year-old toppled a Morgan Super 3 at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, could well be the crisis that breaks the camel’s back. Flintoff’s recent return to the public eye illustrated the severity of his injuries.

At the time of the accident, Top Gear was pulled from schedules, and in March this year BBC bosses confirmed that series 34 had ceased filming.

There’s now speculation that the flagship show could be mothballed indefinitely, with some insiders claiming the Top Gear team is being slowly ‘dismantled’.

If this is the end of Top Gear, the often-divisive show will go down in history for its laddish banter, outlandish set-pieces, and controversies galore.

But that’s not all it should be remembered for.

In amongst all the chest-thumping bravado, there were some genuinely touching, heart-warming, and even moving moments to put lumps in throats.

Here are a few of them: 

Dads and their cars (Series 30 Episode 1 of 4)

You don’t need to be a petrolhead to remember the smells, sounds, conversations, and feelings associated with the car your parents ferried you around in as a kid.

And hosts Chris Harris, Andrew Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness were reunited with the cars from their childhood for this episode that aired in 2021.

‘Every button, every switch brings back a memory’, as Chris points out behind the wheel of a BMW 323i, a car once owned by his old man.

(Chris Harris, above, credit Beaulieu)

We’ll let Chris do the talking here:

 “It’s a funny thing talking about your dad when he’s been gone a long time, because mine’s been gone 20 years. And I still struggle to talk about it. That doesn’t go away. Ian Edward Lorimer Harris, I miss you lots. And I’m sorry about a lot of the driving that I do that you’d find inappropriate. But I do often keep a tin of barley sugars in most of my cars. And I don’t really eat them, I just buy them because you used to have them and it makes me feel good having them in the car. I’ve never admitted that in public before.”

Paddy, at the wheel of Ford Fiesta, adds: 

“Honestly, I used to love sitting in the car with my dad and just driving. I didn’t care where we were going as long as we were on the road, talking and laughing. He used to do this little thing when he was driving, my dad. When he used to change the gear he’d grab my leg and give it a squeeze. It gave me, like, a little electric shock. He’d do it every now and again and I used to laugh my head off. God… it was just wonderful. I just…ohh.. I think we’d all give anything to go back to those moments in time. I miss ‘em. I miss him.”

Paddy’s dad, Joe, passed away in 2014.

Clarkson and his Porsche 928 (Patagonia Special)

The Top Gear Patagonia Special was a two-parter that aired in 2014 - and it was mired in controversy.

Host Jeremy Clarkson was behind the wheel of a Porsche 928, which had the registration plate ‘H982 FKL’. Angry locals took that ‘FKL’ plate to be a subtle joke in reference to the Falklands War. A mob descended and the entire crew feared for their lives.

But in amongst the carnage, Clarkson revealed why he had such a soft spot for the 928 in the first place.

He said: 

“Back in 1994, I was living in London and I got a call one evening from my mum to say that my dad was desperately ill in a hospital in Sheffield and I needed to get there as quickly as possible. And I had just taken a chicken out of the oven and I thought, 'Well, I'll take this for my mum because she won't have eaten.' I ran outside, I had a 928 on test that week. And when I arrived in Sheffield, the chicken was still warm and my dad was still alive. In fact, he died half an hour later. And the truth is, if I hadn't been driving a car which could sit quite happily at 170 miles per hour, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to say goodbye to my dad. So as far as I'm concerned, the 928 is alright."

Eddie Clarkson passed away in 1994.

Paddy goes home (Series 29, episode 1)

(Credit Beaulieu)

This relatively recent series opener saw Chris, Paddy and Freddie enjoying a tour of Bolton - Paddy’s hometown - as they attempted to spend 24 hours inside a popular company car.

But when Paddy took his co-hosts to visit the former council house in which he grew up, something unexpected happened.

Paddy spots an old mate on the street, someone he grew up with, and the pair share a heart-felt embrace as they each express their love for their ‘brother’.

A clearly-moved Chris comments: “As much as I hate to admit it, it is quite joyous to watch Paddy come home, because they love him here. At least they love him somewhere…”

Hammond returns (Series 9, episode 1)


(Credit DriveTribe)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that in 2006 Top Gear host Richard Hammond very nearly met his maker after crashing a jet-powered car while doing more than 300 mph. A long recovery from serious injuries followed.

But in January 2007, Hammond made his return to the show.

Re-introducing him to the studio, Clarkson tells the audience: “It gives me great pleasure, because I didn’t think I’d ever be saying this at one point, ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome… Richard Hammond!”

Once the customary mick-taking was complete, Hammond turned to the camera and gave a sombre, sincere thank you to all of the medical staff who saved his life. Not a dry eye in the house. The trio later examined the crash footage - and you could hear a pin drop in the crowd.

‘Please don’t leave me…’ (Bolivia Special)

Back in 2009, Clarkson, Hammond and May bought three cheap 4x4s and attempted to drive from the rainforest of Bolivia to the Pacific coast of Chile.

The journey saw them negotiating Bolivia’s terrifying ‘El Camino de la Muerte’ - aka ‘Death Road’ - a narrow, mountainous highway that brings certain fatality just inches away from the driver.

As night descended, the battery in May’s plucky Suzuki Jimny conked out, dimming his lights and heaping yet more peril onto the pile.

And while Top Gear has always had an ‘each man for himself’ mantra, May begged for Hammond to stay by his side in an unusually touching exchange:

May: “Hammond, I want to say something to you that I wouldn't say at any other time”.
Hammond: “What?”
May: “Please don't leave me…”
Hammond: “Oh, God, those words are going to stay with me for a bit. I’ll struggle to get over that. But, no, I won’t.”

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Friday, 17/05/2024