The deepest wounds often take years to heal, and such is the case with one of the world’s most popular car shows Wheeler Dealers. After 13 years and some 135 cars, Edd China parted ways with the show almost a year ago with suggestions that Velocity planned to reduce the workshop aspect for Series 14. Edd clearly wasn’t happy, and fans were livid.
“The detailed and in-depth coverage of my fixes in the workshop; what I consider to be the backbone and USP of the programme, are something Velocity feel should be reduced,” China said at the time. “The workshop jobs are certainly the hardest part of the show to make and reducing their substance and role in the show will save the production considerable time, effort and therefore money. However, this new direction is not something I am comfortable with as I feel the corners I was being asked to cut compromised the quality of my work and would erode my integrity as well as that of the show, so I have come to the conclusion that my only option is to let Velocity get on with it, without me.”
Wheeler Dealers co-host Mike Brewer was quick to counter China’s claims: “There’s no way on earth that anyone has ever suggested that the mechanical content of the show is going to be reduced,” Brewer said. “Where that came from, I don’t know. It is not going to be reduced, Discovery channel are not going to change the format one iota.”
So this got us thinking – considering that the workshop forms the backbone of what makes Wheeler Dealers so popular, has anything really changed with the amount of time devoted to it? And who was telling the truth – Mike or Edd?
Well ready the stopwatches, because we’re about to find out!
Wheeler Dealers workshop time – Edd vs Ant
The idea for this analysis is actually rather simple – we chose four random Wheeler Dealers episodes from the Edd China dynasty to try and get a decent cross-section of the workshop times involved. We then watched the episodes through and timed only the segments which showed Edd working on something – and excluded the times where nothing mechanical was actually going on. For example, if Mike and Edd were just talking in the workshop it didn’t count, and neither did the bits where Mike went out to buy or refinish parts. Just Edd’s work, pure and simple. Here’s how it turned out:
Edd China episode workshop times:
- Series 04, Episode 07: 17min 04sec
- Series 07, Episode 02: 19min 51sec
- Series 08, Episode 05: 19min 40sec
- Series 13, Episode 13: 25min 32sec
As you might have noticed, the times above are far from consistent – but they do give you a rough indication of the amount of time typically devoted to Edd’s work. Around 19 to 20 minutes per episode – sometimes more, sometimes less. Some variance is to be expected, as some cars require more work than others.
And now for the comparison. We chose four random episodes from Wheeler Dealers Series 14 – the Ant Anstead dynasty – and applied the same logic to the time Ant spent working or explaining how to fix things.
Ant Anstead episode workshop times:
- Series 14, Episode 01: 17min 58sec
- Series 14, Episode 03: 11min 17sec
- Series 14, Episode 06: 13min 55sec
- Series 14, Episode 08: 18min 53sec
So what can we gather from this information? Although two of the episodes we checked from Wheeler Dealers Series 14 did contain around 18 to 19 minutes of workshop time, the remaining two episodes fell well short of the times we’ve come to expect. Episode 3 contained just over 11 minutes of workshop fixes – with the remaining 33 minutes of the show devoted to other things.
If you calculate the averages of the figures above, the average amount of workshop time for the Edd China episodes comes in at 20 minutes 31 seconds. And for Ant Anstead? An average of just 15 minutes 30 seconds. That’s an average of 5 minutes less time spent in the workshop per episode for Series 14 – or a reduction of around 25% which is a bit disappointing.
So although the Wheeler Dealers format we all know and love hasn’t really changed all that much – apart from a new face – there is a very real possibility that what we’re getting episodes with lighter workshop elements because it is cheaper and easier for Velocity to film.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Wheeler Dealers as Series 14 continues later this year, to see whether the reduced workshop times continue, or if the episodes we checked are simply the odd ones out. But for now, it sort of looks like Edd China might have been right.