Top Gear (series 8)

The eighth series of Top Gear was aired during 2006 and consisted of eight episodes. Because of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the series, which began on 7 May, took a month-long break from 4 June to 16 July, eventually concluding on 30 July. The series saw the introduction of a new opening title sequence which featured segments of footage taken from previous series behind silhouettes of the three presenters; the footage used would be changed over time, during the 14 series that the sequence was in use. In addition, the show was presented from a new studio, there was a new reasonably priced car, and one of Hammond's dogs, named "Top Gear Dog" (or "TeeGee" later on), joined the team throughout the series while making guest appearances in Series 9.

Top Gear (series 8)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes8
Original networkBBC Two
Original release7 May (2006-05-07) –
30 July 2006 (2006-07-30)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series 7
Next →
Series 9
List of Top Gear episodes

Changes to showEdit

New studioEdit

In early 2006, production of Top Gear began to outgrow the old studio that had been in use for the past seven series, leading the BBC to look for a bigger site to film the eighth series at. Plans were put underway to shift the film site from Dunsfold to Enstone, Oxfordshire, but while negotiations were underway, West Oxfordshire council received concerns from locals who feared the move would increase noise and air pollution at the proposed site, and thus blocked the initial application for the move.[1] The BBC thus decided against the move and went ahead with filming at the old site after revamping and expanding the studio set, despite not having a permit to do so.[2]

"Star in a Reasonably Priced Car"Edit

Series 8 saw the reasonably priced car being changed – the Suzuki Liana, which had been used in the previous seven series, was replaced by the Chevrolet Lacetti. The change to the Lacetti meant that the Celebrity Lap Board had to be wiped clean, as the times on it were for the Liana and the new car had a slightly higher speed and different performance. In addition to the change in car, the show also revised the format of the segment; whereas previously, each celebrity was given training by The Stig before doing several laps on the track and having the fastest time of these laps being placed on the Celebrity Lap Board, this time each celebrity was given five practice laps, before doing one final lap that was timed, with no allowances made for any mishaps made.

While the Liana was replaced, it was not retired; instead it was retained by the show for use by F1 drivers in the spin-off segment, "F1 Star in a Reasonably Priced Car", who could only use the Liana and not the active reasonably priced car used by celebrities.


No. in
ReviewsFeatures/challengesGuest(s)Original air dateUK viewers
(millions) [3]
671Koenigsegg CCXHonda CivicNissan Micra C+CThe Convertible People CarrierWell-spoken manAlan DaviesTrevor EveJimmy CarrJustin HawkinsRick WakemanLes Ferdinand7 May 2006 (2006-05-07)4.75

Top Gear has a new studio, and there's a fourth member of the team – a dog named "Top Gear Dog", who always is lying down, hates cars and doesn't like May. While the trio wonder what to do with their fourth member, they also find out how hard it is to create a convertible people carrier, after converting a Renault Espace into one and putting it through a number of challenges, including taking it into a safari park and subjecting it to a brand new car wash. Meanwhile, Hammond is embarrassed with driving a hot pink Nissan Micra C+C around Ledbury, Herefordshire, May looks at the newly restyled Honda Civic, Clarkson claims he's found a good way to give up smoking with the new £415,000 Koenigsegg CCX, and there's a new reasonably priced car in use – the old Suzuki Liana is gone, replaced with the Chevrolet Lacetti, so a Lap Board is in use and several celebrities are invited to set a time in it.

Note: First appearance of "Top Gear Dog".
682Chevrolet Corvette Z06Jaguar XK vs. Germans: (Mercedes-Benz SL 350BMW 650i)Tomcat 4WD vs. Motor powered kayak race in Iceland • Presenting a drive time radio showThe Stig does a farewell lap for the Suzuki LianaGordon Ramsay14 May 2006 (2006-05-14)4.47
The group take over hosting a 3-hour block for BBC Southern Counties Radio, to see how hard it is to host a Drive Time Radio Show, and things soon go downhill from the start. Meanwhile, Hammond is in Iceland to race a man with powered canoe against a specially prepped 4x4 Tomcat, Clarkson tests out the new Jaguar XK in Yorkshire and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 on the track, while celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay returns to try out the Lacetti and the Stig sees shows how fast he is in the Liana.
693Lotus Exige SAmphibious cars challenge: (Toyota HiluxVolkswagen T3Triumph Herald)Philip Glenister21 May 2006 (2006-05-21)4.75
The presenters are tasked turning a car into an amphibious vehicle and capturing the public's imagination – Hammond buys a 1983 Volkswagen T3 campervan and turns it into a houseboat, May converts a 1962 Triumph Herald into a sailing craft with a mast and some sails, and Clarkson uses a 1989 Toyota Hilux pick-up truck and plants a huge outboard motor on its back. The trio soon see how their creations fare on the road, before taking them onto the waters of Rudyard Lake near Leek, Staffordshire and crossing two miles of it, where one of the presenters has a sinking feeling about their amphibious car. Meanwhile, Clarkson reviews the Lotus Exige S on the Top Gear test track, and actor Philip Glenister is the latest star in the new reasonably priced car.
704BMW Z4 MPorsche Boxster SMercedes-Benz S500Porsche Cayenne Turbo SKoenigsegg CCX With Top Gear Wing • Designing "Anne Hathaway's Cottage" in a Mercedes S280 • Porsche Cayenne vs. parachutistEwan McGregor28 May 2006 (2006-05-28)3.83
Clarkson has a look at what features will be present in cars in ten years time, that can be found on the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, before tackling the issue of interior design on the S-Class by redoing the interior of an old 1996 Mercedes-Benz S-Class to be like his house, with Hammond and May helping by finding out how much it has changed the car's performance. Meanwhile, there's a test of how good the BMW Z4 M is on the track, Hammond races in a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S against a British army parachuter in Cyprus, Ewan McGregor talks about his car history before he sees how he fared in the Lacetti, and the Koenigsegg CCX is back to see if it is much faster after having been equipped with a rear spoiler, following its accident on the track at the beginning of the series.
715Prodrive P2Citroën C6Car football game II • Time-trial challenge with Sir Jackie StewartSir Michael Gambon4 June 2006 (2006-06-04)5.01
"Captain Slow" is put through his paces, as Jackie Stewart attempts to prove he can cut May's best lap time around the Oulton Park circuit by 20 seconds. Meanwhile, Clarkson hopes the madness of the Citroën CX has rubbed off on the new Citroën C6 and tries out the Prodrive P2 concept car on the track, a team of Toyota Aygos defend their honour in a match of Car Football against a team of the new Volkswagen Fox, and Sir Michael Gambon returns to discuss his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films before seeing how he fared in the Lacetti.
726Cheap Saloons: (Ford Mondeo ST220Mazda 6 MPSVauxhall Vectra VXR)Caravan holiday • Indoor speed record in an F1 racerBrian Cox16 July 2006 (2006-07-16)3.66
The boys go on a caravan holiday in Dorset to try to find out more about caravaning, seeing if the Kia Cerato is a good tow car with their "home, away from home", the Elddis Shamal XL. It's not long before they find themselves having trouble getting to the caravan site, dealing with a sick dog, damaging a neighbouring caravan and struggling to have fun, before worse follows. Meanwhile, the Stig has a go at the nonexistent indoor world speed record with a Toyota TF105 F1 car, Brian Cox talks with Clarkson about his roles as villains and his Toyota Prius's before setting a time in the Lacetti, and Clarkson tests out three hot saloons – the Ford Mondeo ST220, the Mazda 6 MPS and the Vauxhall Vectra VXR.
737Lamborghini Gallardo SpyderPeugeot 207 1.6L Diesel • Sporty People Carriers: (Ford S-Max 2.5L 200 PSMercedes-Benz B200 TurboVauxhall Zafira VXR)Caterham Seven kit car race • Peugeot 207 vs. parkour masters race in LiverpoolSteve Coogan23 July 2006 (2006-07-23)3.89
The boys find themselves in a race against The Stig, as he tries to drive a Caterham Seven kit car from Caterham's base in Caterham, Surrey, to the start line of the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Scotland, while they try to get there first after building the same model as fast as they can in the pit garage at the circuit, and there are plenty of mishaps for them as they build their car. Meanwhile, Hammond and May try out three people carriers – the Ford S-MAX, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and the Vauxhall Zafira VXR – to see which is best, Clarkson tests out the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, there's another race between May in a Peugeot 207 1.6L Diesel and two traceurs (masters of Parkour which involves running and leaping across/off buildings) across Liverpool, while Steve Coogan talks about hot tubs and Arnold Schwarzenegger after having a go in the Lacetti.
748Noble M15Being van roadies with The Who: (Volkswagen T30 TDI 174 SportlineFord TransitRenault Master) • £1,000 Van Man challenge: (Ford TransitSuzuki Super CarryLDV Convoy)Jenson ButtonRay Winstone30 July 2006 (2006-07-30)5.27

The trio take a look at what it's like to drive vans, as they take a Renault Master, a Ford Transit and a Volkswagen T30 TDI 174 Sportline, and become roadies for The Who. Then later on, the trio each buy a second-hand van for less than £1,000 – Clarkson plays it safe and buys a Ford Transit, May gets a sluggish LDV Convoy, and Hammond buys a small but nippy Suzuki Supercarry – before seeing who got the best deal by undertaking series of challenges, including carrying stuff, replacing a door, and staying ahead of The Stig in a police car. Meanwhile, there's a review of the most powerful Noble yet to grace the track, the Noble M15, British actor Ray Winstone discusses how got into drama before seeing his lap time in the Lacetti, and 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button sees if he can win a £20 bet with Clarkson that he can go faster around the track in the Liana than The Stig did.

Note: In the closing credits, the presenters are listed as "Lee Clarkson," "Wayne Hammond," and "Terry May".

Criticism and controversyEdit

Caravanning Holiday filmEdit

Following the broadcast of the sixth episode of the eighth series, Top Gear received over 150 complaints about the actions of the presenters in regards to the caravan fire that broke out. In his article for British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, James Tapper claimed that the episode's action had been staged and that Dorset emergency services had been paid around £1,000 by the BBC for a six-man fire crew to participate in the mock fire. Clarkson commented about the complaints during the News segment of the following episode before proclaiming that it had not been an 'accident' as first implied, but a publicity stunt to show everyone how much Top Gear hates caravans.[4] A BBC spokeswoman later confirmed that the fire had been planned for safety reasons and that any reasonable viewer would not have been misled due to the stunt's slapstick nature.[5]


  1. ^ Payne, Stewart (20 February 2006). "Villagers put the brake on Top Gear". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
  2. ^ "Community split over TV show's future" (PDF). Surrey Advertiser. 26 May 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
  3. ^ "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  4. ^ Top Gear – Series 8 Episode 7 2006.07.23 News Segment Clarkson:...we were slightly rude about caravans... Hammond: Yeah, we sort of set one on fire a bit. Clarkson:...150 complaints.
  5. ^ Topper, James (3 August 2007). "BBC admit Top Gear caravan blaze was a fake". Mail on Sunday Newspaper. Retrieved 28 July 2008.