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Top Gear (series 21)

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Title: Top Gear (series 21)  
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Subject: Tom Boswell (television presenter), Andy Wilman, Top Gear home video releases, Jon Bentley (TV presenter), Michael Collie
Collection: Top Gear Seasons
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Top Gear (series 21)

Top Gear (series 21)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 7
Original channel BBC Two
Original release 2 February 2014 (2014-02-02) – 16 March 2014 (2014-03-16)

The twenty-first series of British motoring programme Top Gear started airing on BBC Two and BBC Two HD on 2 February 2014,[1] with the usual presenting team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig.[2]

Jeremy Clarkson confirmed on Twitter on 16 September 2013 that he had started filming for Series 21.[3] This series also contains a Top Gear Special, as confirmed on 20 October by Jeremy Clarkson on Twitter: "Well this is it. We are off to make the Top Gear Special. And I have a bad feeling about this mission." The "Christmas" special aired in March 2014 as announced by Jeremy Clarkson on Twitter.[4] On 17 January 2014, a teaser trailer of the new series was released on the BBC's YouTube channel, and across BBC Television.[5]


Total No. Title Review Features/challenges Guest Original air date UK viewers (million)[6]
160 1 Series 21, Episode 1 None Prove that the hot hatchbacks of their youth were better than their modern equivalents: (Volkswagen Golf Mk2 GTIVauxhall Nova SRiFord Fiesta XR2i) Hugh Bonneville 2 February 2014 (2014-02-02) 6.12

News: BMW's new 3-cylinder hybrid, the i8; litter bugs; the new F1 car nose; the new Lexus RC-F; the new Mercedes S-class has thermal imaging; wishing Michael Schumacher a full recovery.

Cheap Car Challenge: In an attempt to prove that the hot hatchbacks of their youth were better than their modern equivalents, the trio are told to buy three classic hot hatchbacks and meet up for a series of challenges. Clarkson buys a Volkswagen Golf Mk2 GTI, May buys a Ford Fiesta XR2i and Hammond purchases a Vauxhall Nova SRi. They then receive a text from the producers telling them to drive to the Shelsley Wash Hill Climb, where they will attempt to beat the time set by Teenage Stig in a SEAT Ibiza Cupra. Clarkson managed 47.4 seconds while May got 50.3 seconds. Hammond was the fastest with 46.3 seconds, but rolls his Nova into a ditch on the way downhill. They then take their cars to a wrapping area to give their cars a factory fresh look, after which they receive their next task. The trio have to drive through a supermarket, with every pound of damage they make adding a second to their time. May's run was almost clean. Clarkson however crashes into almost everything. Hammond meanwhile crossed the finish line with the Nova lying on its side. The day after, it is revealed that the task had led to the Nova having its fuel line severed, while the Golf had damaged brakes. While Clarkson and Hammond fix their cars at an airfield, they receive the results for the supermarket challenge. May did his run in 1:05, Hammond's was done in 2:12 and Clarkson had a time of 28:06. After this, the trio have fun by playing car-related games that ends in a drag race in which Hammond accidentally changes from second gear into first instead of third, thus critically damaging his Nova's engine.

For the final task, set at an old military base, one presenter must drive their car while the other two give chase in a selection of TGPD (Top Gear Police Department) vehicles and attempt to stop him. Due to the ruined engine in Hammond's Nova, it takes just 8 seconds for Clarkson and May to stop him. Clarkson set a time of 14 hours and 22 minutes before his Golf was destroyed by an RC car with a bomb attached to it. May's tactic is different - to drive at normal speed and just ignore the police, despite Clarkson and Hammond trying all techniques to stop him. Eventually, May's Fiesta was destroyed by a tank and lost to Clarkson by just one minute.

Back in the studio, the presenters talk more about their cars, and decide that, because the Nova won the hill climb, the Fiesta won the Supermarket Sweep and the Golf won the Police Challenge, they conclude that the older hot hatchbacks are much better than the new ones.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey, driving the Vauxhall Astra Tech Line, who set a time of 1.50.1 in the wet track.
161 2 Series 21, Episode 2 Alfa Romeo 4CGibbs QuadskiMcLaren P1 Alfa Romeo 4C vs Gibbs Quadski • May visits Camp Bastion in Afghanistan Tom Hiddleston 9 February 2014 (2014-02-09) 6.97

Review/"Car Vs. Something" Race: Richard Hammond travels to the shores of Lake Como to test drive the new Alfa Romeo 4C. He initially criticises the price because it has a 4-cylinder engine and that the bonnet cannot be opened, but loves the 4C's speed, handling, engine noise, steering feel and looks. Halfway through his review, Hammond bumps into Clarkson on a quad bike, who has planned a race to a hotel near the bottom of Lake Como. While Hammond takes the lead in the beginning, Clarkson reveals that his quad bike can do more (it is actually the Gibbs Quadski) when he drives into the lake, by converting it for water travel, thus he can travel straight across the waters of Lake Como, much to Hammond's surprise. However, despite being slowed down by rough water but having victory in sight, Clarkson is unable to find the heart to beat the Alfa, and finds a place to hide until Hammond arrives. Back in the studio, Hammond finds the Alfa's shoddy interior and width to be disappointing but thinks that the idea of making cars lighter is more suitable for the future as this means that cars will be faster, more nimble and more economical. Clarkson then previews the new McLaren P1 which he describes as "Astonishing".

News: Kia is developing "gesture control"; dumb messages on highway signs; new Corvette Z06 vs. the new Jaguar F-type; Britain is the worst country in the world for filling up with petrol

Feature: May travels to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan to look at some of the military vehicles used by the British Forces and how they are being brought back to the UK. He comments about how some of the problems faced by roadside bombs led to radical designs of new vehicles to combat this, along with looking into other matters, including a unique driving course for the army and a training facility designed to help soldiers deal with being rolled over by explosives.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Tom Hiddleston drove in very wet conditions. He managed a 1.49.9 in the Vauxhall Astra Tech Line.

Review: Clarkson is in the gentle surroundings of Bruges in Belgium to review the McLaren P1. He first drives it around town noting how it has batteries which produce 176bhp and a 3.8l 727bhp twin turbo V8 acting as a generator. He then takes it onto Belgium's lit motorways and describes how through sunshine, rain, traffic and clear stretches, the McLaren was quiet and comfortable yet not well equipped. He then describes how it is lighter than a Vauxhall Astra which makes it economical and "mind-blowingly fast". This brings him to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps where he describes the P1, with a combined output of 903 horsepowers, feels even faster than a Bugatti Veyron. He is also amazed that despite the immense speed, it goes round corners beautifully and how each lap it works on ways of going faster. He concludes the segment saying that McLaren, by using hybrid system to make supercars faster and more exciting, has opened a genuinely new chapter in the history of motoring. Back in the studio Hammond points out the new Porsche 918 and the two have a debate upon which is faster by which Clarkson admits that he will change his name to "Jennifer" if the Porsche were to be faster than the McLaren.
162 3 Series 21, Episode 3 Zenvo ST1 Trip through Ukraine in compact hatchbacks: (Volkswagen Up!Ford FiestaDacia Sandero) James Blunt 16 February 2014 (2014-02-16) 6.87

Review: Clarkson reviews the Zenvo STI, after reflecting on some of Denmark's contributions to the world at large, driving it around the Top Gear test track where he finds the speed to be blistering due to the 1,086hp V8. However, he questions why one would buy a Zenvo rather than any other noted supercar brand on the market, while he also notes the difficult driving dynamics of the car due to the traction control being disengaged in race mode as well as its questionable build quality; from condensation in the headlights, problematic rear brakes, and an issue with the clutch. Afterthe car is taken away for a few weeks to be serviced, it returns to the track, only to suffer from a broken cooling fan and catches fire. Back in the Studio May finds the £800,000 price tag to be shocking as its in the same bracket as a McLaren P1 yet the Zenvo isn't even a twelfth a car that the McLaren was. The Stig was able to post a wet lap for the car, nevertheless – a dismal 1:29.9 making it the slowest Exotic Supercar alongside the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.

News: Hammond previews his test of the new Lamborghini Huracan which is the replacement for the Gallardo is, although beautiful, bland for a Lambo; Nitrogen Dioxide pollution.

Road Trip/Challenge: The team attempt to prove that small, underpowered hatchbacks geared for fuel efficiency on thin fuel-saving tires can be fun to drive (despite their relative lack of power) by travelling 750 miles from the Livadia Palace in the Crimean Peninsula all the way to the northern border of Ukraine with Belarus. Hammond drove the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, Clarkson drove the Volkswagen Up!, May drove the Dacia Sandero. Despite the fact they loved their cars, the long journey forced them to find a way of making the travel bearable, including May doing magic tricks, Hammond learning the blues harmonica, and Clarkson trying to learn the country's language. The challenge reached its climax with a race to see who can run out of fuel faster on the road between the city of Kiev and the radiation contaminated Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. As a result, all three presenters attempt to drain their fuel usage fastest, which results in Clarkson increasing his drag by opening all the doors and windows, May by disabling his engine's management system and Hammond by driving in a zigzag pattern and keeping his engine on when stopped by the police. Hammond runs out of fuel just a few miles from the 30-kilometre checkpoint, leaving Clarkson and May to enter the Zone after the rest of the film crew drive back to Kiev. At this point, Clarkson laments that it would be the best time not to run out of fuel. Clarkson and May drive past the remains of Reactor Number 4 and through the abandoned city of Pripyat. Clarkson runs out of fuel a short distance from the Pripyat amusement park, where the Geiger counter exceeds 200 counts per second. May's car running out of fuel isn't shown, though it is assumed he made it safely past the exclusion zone, as he still had a reasonable amount of fuel remaining.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: James Blunt talked about his role as a British Army Captain in the Pristina Airport incident during his deployment in the Kosovo War and his new album. He then drove the Astra in torrential conditions, and achieved a time of 1:49:4.
163 4 Series 21, Episode 4 Mercedes Benz G63 AMG 6x6Caterham 7 160Caterham 7 620R • Alfa Romeo Touring Disco Volante Mercedes Benz G63 AMG 6x6 Jack Whitehall 23 February 2014 (2014-02-23) 6.53

Review: May drives the Madame Tussauds wants to immortalize Clarkson in wax; several fires involving the new Porsche 911 GT3—and a presenter just happens to have one.

Main Review: Clarkson tests the new Alfa Romeo 8C-based Touring Disco Volante through the Pordoi Pass in northern Italy, the first coach built car since the 1930s. Jeremy adores the fact that it does not feel like an 8C and comments how it is best driven at half speed. He also adores the way the car looks, sounds and feels. He admits that he was initially jealous of Hammond who tested the 4C, which he describes as the Angel Gabriel, but the Disco Volante is more like the Jesus. He concludes by saying that it has the best combination in the world: a Maserati heart, an Alfa Romeo badge, exhausts from Otis Redding, and a coach-built body. Back in the studio, May criticises Clarkson for being a hypocrite, as he had earlier slammed May for liking the slowest Caterham. Clarkson then admits that he would rather drive a Lexus LFA due to its brilliance but arrive somewhere in the Disco Volante due to its beauty.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Jack Whitehall sets a lap time of 1.54.5, becoming the slowest star to drive around the track in the Vauxhall Astra. Prior to this, Whitehall's only driving experience was to once drive his father to the butcher's shop.

Review: Hammond travels to the United Arab Emirates in order to review the six-wheeled Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6, which he gives a thorough test, including drive through a pool to prove it could ford water, and across several sand dunes.
164 5 Series 21, Episode 5 Porsche 918BMW M135iVW Golf GTi Mk7 Make a commercial for reducing cycle-related accidents Aaron Paul 2 March 2014 (2014-03-02) 5.64

Review: Clarkson begins his review of three German hot hatchbacks by dismissing the Mercedes A45 AMG as far too expensive, saying that anyone who has an iota of common sense would choose either the BMW M135i or the VW Golf GTi Mk7. He then drives the BMW around the Top Gear test track where he notes the major performance difference between it and the Golf GTI due to its 90hp advantage. He further discusses how 1-Series is the first hatchback in a long time to have rear wheel drive meaning that it can drift beautifully. He feels so confident in the BMW which leads onto a drag race with a shocking outcome where the BMW aquaplanes at 120 mph and spins off for a distance of a quarter mile, while the GTi proceeds to win the race. At this point, Clarkson switches to the Volkswagen establishing that it's cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, cheaper to insure than the BMW. He then describes that despite the major difference in usability, the Golf is no where near boring claiming that it has the best front diff ever fitted to a car. Clarkson concludes the segment by saying the Golf was brilliant in every way and the BMW tried to kill him. Hammond disagrees claiming that the only reason the BMW spun out was because of Clarkson driving it. The cars are then handed to the Stig, where the M135i comes in at 1.25.1 while the Golf manages 1.28.6. When Hammond points out the BMW is faster Clarkson points out that the Golf is closer to where a hot hatch should be.

News: Controversy behind the Mercedes 6x6 that Hammond drove in the previous episode; Clarkson and May continue to tease Hammond due to the fire issues with the new Porsche 911 GT3; offensive comments on Scottish independence.

Feature: Clarkson and May set out to create a Public Information Film to promote the safety of cyclists in London.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Aaron Paul talked about his role as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad and his role in the upcoming Need for Speed. He then drove the Vauxhall Astra, achieving a time of 1.44.7. His time made him the fastest star in the reasonably priced car beating Brian Johnson of AC/DC by four-tenths of a second.

Review: Hammond heads to the Yas Marina Circuit to review Porsche's new hybrid supercar: the 918 Spyder. He first describes its mind-boggling straight line performance and how, like the P1, the 918 is a joint strike force of petrol and electric motors. He then describes how the noise is spine tingling and how both cars are similar in performance with the P1 having the higher top speed and more power but the 918 having more torque and faster acceleration. He continues to describe how, unlike the P1, the 918 can retrieve energy by braking, is a convertible and actually has some creature comforts. He then describes how the 918 has four different modes, e-mode, road, sport and race. Upon putting it in Race Mode he talks about the incredible handling capabilities but not being as scary as the P1, which is down to the 918's four wheel drive system and how it still is exciting. He then talks how the 918 has set the fastest record for production cars at the Nurburgring in 6:57. He finally describes how the emissions coming out of it are less than a Toyota Prius. He concluded with the statement that the McLaren P1 had used hybrid technology to liven up the supercar for today's performance enthusiasts, but that the Porsche 918 used hybrid technology not just to liven up the supercar for today, yet also to preserve it for the future in which there will be more stringent emissions and economy regulations. Back in the Studio Clarkson argued that Hammond can't talk about the P1 being scary as he hadn't driven a P1 and how the only reason he said it was scary because Clarkson drove the P1 in the wet at Spa whereas Hammond drove the 918 in the bone dry at Yas Marina. Clarkson then criticises the 918 having a dribble of power compared to the P1 to which Hammond points out that Clarkson hadn't driven the 918. May finally breaks up the argument previewing that one day in the future, Clarkson will bring the P1 and Hammond will bring the 918 down to the track and they will see which is the fastest. And the trio announced the Burma special.
165 6 "Burma Special, Part 1" None Build a bridge over the River Kwai: (Isuzu TX • Isuzu TX • Hino FB110) None 9 March 2014 (2014-03-09) 6.29
The three presenters are challenged with building a bridge over the River Kwai. The journey starts off with a drive to the old capital city, Rangoon. The trio show off their lorries. Clarkson arrives first explaining how he bought a stereo. He also explains that he dosent know if it was built in 1959 or 1976 because he says "People are a bit hazy on that" He continues his speech by saying "and what came with the price was this come, and an entire lorry!" Clarkson also jokes about if it was built by Isuzu or Mitsubishi (he ends his speech by saying "it says Isuzu on the mudflaps, but it it says Mitsubishi on the axles"). Clarkson then shows May his lorry saying that it has an "inline 6, Rear wheel drive, and twin exhausts" he then ends his speech with "A BMW 528i and it, almost identical." Clarkson calls May's lorry a van, and mocks his interior that he has an unknown knob and says that "it will drive his OCD crazy." apparently, May remedies this by putting a piece of tape on it and writing a question mark on it. May jokes about if Hammond's lorry was a lorry or a Hindu Temple because it was so big. Clarkson calls Hammond's interior "the railway carriage Agatha Christie went about in", and his seat a church pew. then they set off on a journey through Burma towards Thailand. As they drive through Rangoon, they have multiple issues such as; Clarkson tipping the tipper, thinking it was low range, not knowing it was a tipper lorry. Hammond needed lots of help lifting wires because is lorry is so tall, and James was leading, so they went through tight streets. This caused problems such as; dumping a bunch of oranges form their container, getting a plate of food covered in exhaust smoke, and some locals had to move an entire car. during the ordeal Jeremy asks "how does he get his plane to land where he wants it. after they exit Rangoon, and had entered the next town, it was discovered that they had set off on the wrong road and end up having to go through a mountain pass. Clarkson constantly moans about his Isuzu and saying how rubbish the gear box (The gearbox had no syncro-mesh, and Clarkson does not know how to do a double-de-clutch) and the comfort level is(It was a tipper lorry and was designed to be with a load, so the suspension is set really tight). Hammond complains about how none of his gauges work. May also have problems with his lorry because there is play in the steering and there is no handbrake. In a near by town Clarkson puts bricks into his truck to make it heavier thus improving the ride. May gets stuck in a creek where a local man helps him get out. Clarkson's weight addition ends up slowing his truck eventually causing it to not move at all, he then dumps all the bricks onto the road leaving May and Hammond behind. then when they enter Naypyidaw, they stay at a horrible truckstop just as all the other nights have (although they had attempted to enter the best hotel, they fail). Thinking about all the horrible truckstops, The three then make modifications to their lorries; Clarkson adds blue and white Shelby paint, Mercedes AMG badges on the side, a sleeping compartment, the glass made from lead, parts made out of rhodium, and an ebony wood floor, all adding weight to make his ride smoother. He removes the roof in the cab to make it a convertible lorry(which didn't make sense because it was raining). Hammond adds white wall tires, a viewing platform, two tall truck exhausts (which cause trouble later on for being tall), a hammock, cooking facilities and a shower. May adds an air conditioner to his roof, a brake cooling system, lucky animal figures, and a tent which he hangs on his truck's crane. The three presenters have a drag race in the vast, empty streets of Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma, after which they proceed into the Shan State.
166 7 "Burma Special, Part 2" None Build a bridge over the River Kwai: (Isuzu TX • Isuzu TX • Hino FB110) None 16 March 2014 (2014-03-16) 7.01
After attending a party in the Shan State, the presenters reach what they believe is the River Kwai, where they are challenged with building a bridge over the river, and are not allowed to go home until all three lorries have driven over it. The next morning, they realize the river is wider than they had imagined. May plots a bridge meanwhile Hammond goes into town looking for supplies and Clarkson goes into town looking for food and other workers. Clarkson gets workers and brings back a large crane which eventually fails and tips over destroying a part of the bridge, nearly killing May in the process. Halfway through construction, Clarkson discovers that the river is actually River Kok. In the end the bridge is completed and each of the vehicles are driven over it, completing the challenge. During the end credits, each member of the cast and crew's first name was credited as "Sir Alec", in homage to Sir Alec Guinness, who starred in the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai.


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