This was an interesting post up on Jalopnik today for me http://jalopnik.com/how-do-you-mak… as I was directly involved and employed by a weekly television car show that aired on Speed Channel some time a go now and I can tell you how it worked(s) from the inside.
To protect my own identity and those who are still in the business and deserve better I will not tell you who the players where/are or the show it was: sorry but my anonymity is important to me and I will not slag anyone directly by name without doing it face to face so they can defend themselves.
NO, it wasn’t Top Gear, but I use them as the beacon that most people, most Jalop/OPPOnaughts use as reference material, the single target for all car shows to aim at.
Three, or four depending on your opinion, engaging personalities, beautiful cinematography, exotic locations, beautiful and lustworthy cars all wrapped in a fairly unscripted and losely structured one hour show that was more entertainment than a full season of any other show. That was Top Gear UK.
There is one little nugget of information missing in that statement however and it’s the most important thing and the single thing that made Top Gear UK the show it was. It is what made it possible to draw in, not millions but hundreds of millions of viewers world wide.
It wasn’t Jeremy Clarkson, he was the direct beneficiary of the ‘thing’: no, it was that Top Gear UK aired on the BBC.
For my American friends and those who live outside of the UK, the BBC is like PBS or any other public acces television network where ever you are. For purposes of simplification, I’ll assume you’re an American reading this and you know what PBS is.
Public donations and government grants are what keep PBS afloat. The BBC is simpliar in that the Government charges a television tax to it’s citizens to fund the BBC. I have no idea if you can contribute privately and that doesn’t matter. The key here is that the BBC is beholden to no one other than the tax payers of England. No commercial entity can sway or dictate what is produced, said or broadcast on any of the BBC properties.
The BBC has a guideline for conduct and a set of standards that it must follow, decency regulations if you will and this is where Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson ran afoul.
The very nature and structure of the BBC and it’s non commercial status is what let JC and the boys say the outrageous things about cars and their manuffacturers with no consequences. It’s what we loved about the show and what we want to see here in America. Sorry to say but you will never get that. Welcome to free enterprise and commercial television.
If you’re so initiated, you can look up the case of the LA Times and GM from a few years a go where they pulled their advertising because they didn’t like what was printed about the products or it’s management at the time. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/…
Now the success of TGUK paved the way for these spin-offs: I didn’t even know some of them existed.
Top Gear China, really, did that actually exist? I don’t know and don’t really care but by the ones I can judge, Top Gear USA and AUS, they were never the same or up too the same standards as the UK version. I’m not sure they ever could have been.
Back here on this side of the world, the show I was involved in had two main hosts. You knew and watched them weekly and probably came to like and respect them and their opinions. To be fair, both were were knowledgeable and knew what they were going on about. Both had solid resumes and had walked the walk for the most part.
Both were ASSHOLES!
Childish and demeaning, cold and distant, disrespectful and arrogant: that is how I think of them.
They came across as good old boys on TV but behind the scenes was another story. I get that not everyone is going to be your friend and that sometimes some people just rub you the wrong way but this was different.
Aside from that I will tell you how it works: You must have some semblance of know-how and a track record of sorts. You must meet the right people and have that ‘something’, that spark or point of difference. Everyone thinks they can and wants to be on TV and the line is endless with those who think they can do better than you.
If you get your chance to produce a pilot, 22 minuets, and if you get the go ahead for the first half season, or full, six to thirteen episodes, be prepared for the hardest ride of your life: it’s not easy and it only gets harder.
If you survive that first six to thirteen episodes and beocme an ongoing concern you then will get the chance to create or produce a spin-off show. We got that chance and did it for a while. I thought that show had potential but it was awful and I had nothing to do with it.
Next time you’re watching any of these shows, take a look at the credits. You will inevitably see a production company that owns several of these properties. Counting Cars is one that many of you pointed out as being terrible, I agree. If you want to know how the business works however they are a great example.
This is their production company and their properties:
I dare say you know and recognize at least half of their shows and maybe more. It’s a formula and it works. There is a simple old and truthful saying in show business, “Success doesn’t let you do better, it only let’s you do more.”
The other key to realizing your dreams of new, innovative and interesting automotive television, remember that we the enthusiasts, only make up at best, %10 of the population. That’s on it’s best day and with a show like Top Gear UK that stopped being a car show long time a go and became pure entertainment with cars as props and supporting pieces.
The car show of your dreams belongs on the web. It exists today in the form of shows like RoadKill from the Motor Trend YouTube channel or the DRIVE Network. If you refuse to pay for these then you accept that commercial interests will dictate what you see, hear and read and the idea and idealism of Top Gear UK is dead. You want it, it’s sitting right there, go get it for a few bucks a month, I do!