Friday, June 24, 2011

British Actor of the Month: Petrolhead Edition

Technically, since this is about TV presenters, I’m cheating, but it’s been so long since I’ve done this feature, but, hey, any excuse to bring it back, right?

Anyway, some say they have the best job in the world, and that they are single-handedly responsible for the hole in the ozone layer. All we know is, they present

Top Gear

l-r: Hammond, Clarkson, May, Stig

I don’t know why I like this show so much. I hate cars. And yet, I can’t seem to get enough of Top Gear. Perhaps it’s their humorous approach to all things automotive or their wacky antics. Or maybe it’s the great chemistry between the three presenters.

Jeremy Clarkson is the show’s opinionated jerk. Clarkson never holds back his great disdain for safety regulations, speed cameras, and “ecomenatlists,” and is probably on the P.C. Police’s most wanted list. He loves fast, powerful cars and has shredded about a small rainforest’s worth of tires on the show. However, Clarkson is also known as the least practical of the three of them and has seemingly no understanding of anything mechanical. Any time he tries to fix or build something is a disaster waiting to happen.

Richard Hammond is the youngest and most decent looking of all the Top Gear presenters. His shiny teeth and short stature have gotten him the nickname “Hamster” and much ribbing from the other two. Hammond always seems to get the dangerous tasks, though not as often after his accident in 2006. Hammond seems to have a soft spot for American muscle cars, and has a strange attachment to the 1963 Opel Kadett he bought for the Botswana Special and named “Oliver.”

James May, a.k.a. Captain Slow. Bizarrely dressed, directionally impaired, and fastidious to the point of O.C.D., May is by far the most eccentric of the Top Gear three. His preferences for luxury cars and classic designs make him seem the most sophisticated of his co-hosts. However, his other shows with wine expert Oz Clarke reveal just how relative this perspective is. May is also Clarkson’s opposite when it comes to mechanical matters: sometimes they have to shut him up when he gets too scientific.

Last but not least is Top Gear’s tame racing driver The Stig. Not much is known about him. Apparently awkward in all situations that do not involve driving, Stig’s voice is only heard by the celebrities he guides around the Top Gear Test Track. No one knows what the face behind the mask looks like—if, indeed, there even is a face behind Stig’s mask.

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