The India Special was one of the most anticipated Top Gear episodes in recent memory – it held a lot of promise but in the end it delivered very little and caused quite a stir on topgear.com.
As the credits rolled and I turned the TV off, it left me wondering how they stuffed it up so badly. We were told to expect a 1,300 mile journey across India, but due to the way the show was edited, it felt more like 100 miles.
Instead of seeing more of this amazing country, we had to sit and suffer through the boys ‘revolutionising’ the Dabbawala lunch delivery system in Bombay, their utterly stupid party in Delhi – and why did they decide to get on the train? Who organises a road trip across a foreign country and then loads their vehicle on a train? I was not alone with my opinion.
Never before has a Top Gear episode been almost universally slammed by the large number of dedicated fans around the world. Negative comments on the official TopGear website were submitted in such large amounts that the blog post itself was moved off the main page, in an effort to hide it somewhat. They make for interesting reading.
I believe it would have been a lot better if they ditched the whole ‘trade mission’ theme and simply bought 3 bangers and drove from one side of India to the other. The episode itself was 90 minutes long, suggesting a lot of things could be crammed into the time slot – but very little was actually done or achieved. I would say if you combined the Dabbawala food delivery sequence, pointless hill climb event & Delhi party piece together, you’d have a solid 30 minutes of wasted time. Wasted time which could have been used to show us India. Plus, wrecking the XJS was criminal, it was a stunning looking car and also quite rare in that particular model/configuration. The Mini and the Rolls also bore the brunt of Top Gear’s modifications and staged ‘humor’ – and may be restorable but I doubt anyone would ever save them – it simply wouldn’t be worth the money to do so.
Towards the end of the episode. when Jeremy, Richard and James were sitting around the campfire imagining themselves doing a luxury roadtrip from Monaco to Portofino in three supercars – I couldn’t help but think how much more interesting that challenge would have been.