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  • Writer's pictureSundeep Bhatia

Gearing up to become a Top Gear Presenter

I briefly became a Top Gear presenter.

This was nine years before Jeremy Clarkson had the bright idea of turning a humble motoring show into the superlative entertainment it became .

I remember the occasion well.

Top Gear magazine had just been launched and I was attending the motor show at the NEC Birmingham.The year was 1993.

Top Gear had a stand and a show presented by Jeremy Clarkson and Quentin Wilson.

As part of that show they called for volunteers from the audience.

I was no shrinking wallflower,even in those days.So I raised my hand and was delighted to be selected.

All contestants were asked to give a review of a Nissan Micra which shared the stage with Messrs Wilson and Clarkson.

I gave my all to my presentation but was unsuccessful. Still I was given a bag of runners up goodies including a Top Gear mug ,Top Gear magazine and Top Gear stickers.

Afterwards I ambushed Messrs Clarkson and Wilson,in the midst of a fag break,and they gamely signed my copy of Top Gear magazine .

I was also one of those lucky enough to see a recording at the Dunsfold aerodrome in 2004.

It was a blistering hot day and an aircraft hanger,under the spotlights ,is not the most comfortable place to be on a day like that .My poor wife was in danger of collapsing from heatstroke the whole afternoon.

Upon arrival we were directed to a car park where we were all asked to wait.

I remember being surrounded by a sea of Subaru Impretzas and Mitsubishi Evos.

Eventually Andy Wilman came and collected us and took us into the studio.

We were treated to a joke reel and then the presenters came out.

Clarkson apologised for the fact that we were watching the worst recording of the run because it had been shunted back to 10pm due to Europearn football.

He then made some less than complimentary remarks about David Beckham.

We were then all made to hush whilst features on the Nissan Cube and Jaguar XJS were shown.

The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car was Sir Terry Wogan and if you get the chance to see the episode,on Dave,then you will see me standing next to Mr Clarkson when he introduces the Renault Cliosport

Halfway through filming there was a break and we all enjoyed afternoon tea with the presenters who were all very much like their onscreen personas.

Clarkson was full of himself and was surrounded by a crowd of adoring fans.

May was introverted but polite.

Hammond was bright,breezy and genuine.

He gave me some great advice on buying a secondhand Porsche.

I was as shocked as anyone when I heard about Clarkson’s suspension and ultimate dismissal.

He may not have been an employee of the BBC but there was no way that any reasonable employer could have allowed him to continue working on Top Gear after the facts of a physical altercation were established.

If he had remained,on a new contract,then the director,who suffered Clarkson’s wrath,could have decided to take action against the BBC.

We shall see what happens next to Clarkson.May and Hammond.

I wish them well yet TV history is littered with examples of stars who hopped channel and whose careers faded.(e.g.Morecambe and Wise,Tony Hancock,Jonathan Ross and Michael Parkinson).

Chris Evans is the best replacement the BBC could find for Jeremy Clarkson.

Evans is a better presenter but a worse journalist than Jeremy Clarkson.

Clarkson is first,and foremost,a motoring journalist .

His Sunday Times columns have delighted me for years.

I do not agree with most of what he says but I enjoy reading them because of the humour he uses and his devil may care attitude.

He also knows how to get across a view on a car without boring anyone.

Recently the Sunday Times pointed out that Clarkson and Evans had reviewed the same Seat estate motor vehicle in their national newspaper columns.

They invited readers to compare the writing styles of the two.

Evans and Clarkson came to the same conclusions about the Seat but the way they got there was very different.

Evans column was workmanlike and worthy much like pre 2002 Top Gear.

Clarkson used wit,knowledge and a very amusing history of Seat to make his point.

However the tables are reversed when it comes to the question of presentational skills.

Clarkson needs the charisma of May and Hammond to carry the show whilst Evans has the presentational skills to do it all on his own.

Which brings me to the subject of the latest auditions for Top Gear.

Evans in introducing the audition ,,invited everyone to share their knowledge and passion for cars.

I submitted an effort but would be the first to admit that it was not very good.

In retrospect I should have said the following.

“My name is Sundeep Bhatia of Beaumonde Law Practice and I help motorists keep their licenses.

I help those,whose careers depend on their licenses to carry on working,and to carry on providing for their families.

I defend those charged with dangerous driving or driving with excess alcohol and help to secure their liberty.

I can deal with all motoring matters at the Magistrates Court and can deal with any matters at the Crown Court because I am a Solicitor Advocate with the right to represent clients at both the Crown and Magistrates Court.

I have 21 years of experience.”

If enough of you want to see it then I will post my actual audition video!

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