US Top Gear finally gets green light
The US spinoff of Top Gear has had more will-they-won't-they moments than a celebrity wedding, but at long last it looks like the BBC has found a willing partner to take the plunge and adapt the hugely popular show for American audiences.
BBC Worldwide will co-produce the new programme with US cable network the History Channel. Production of the 10-part series will begin in the autumn, with Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood replacing the celebrated British trio.
The show might be keeping its hallowed three-male-presenter format, but the producers are promising a completely different version of the original programme.
"There's a different relationship with cars in the US and a fascination with customisation that's much greater than in the UK," Jane Tranter, executive vice-president or programming and production at BBC Worldwide told the Guardian. "There's the potential for the US Top Gear to have even greater traction with an audience."
That may be true, but the BBC has previously struggled to get an American version off the ground despite the show being amongst the world's most illegally downloaded TV programmes. A pilot was made for NBC two years ago, but they did not commission a series from it.
One of the biggest challenges will be replicating the cantankerous relationship between Clarkson, May and Hammond. Exotic cars aside, Top Gear's enormous success is built on the spectacle of three middle-aged men behaving badly – a recipe that only works with the right kind of on-screen chemistry.
If Ferrara, Foust and Wood get it right, it might be the UK fans who find themselves resorting to illicit downloading.