Top Gear Bolivia - How much bullshit, how much reality?

#1
I'm not a Top Gear fan but was browsing around on iPlayer and found the Top Gear Bolivia special. It is, so far (about 15 minutes in), excellent. Funny, interesting etc. However....

Maybe someone with Beeb contacts, media experience or common sense can spread some light on this. Quite how much of the Top Gear Bolivia 'challenge' was bullshit, how much scripted, how much kind of somewhere between the two? Is the whole thing just complete bullshit?

Did the presenters actually have anything to do at all with buying the vehicles or were they just told to drive them? How many rehearsals in getting the vehicles off the boat? Rehearsals done by them? How many people are there behind the cameras in the jungle? A couple of blokes and a director in a fourtrack? A whole gang with make up artists, cooks, mechanics....?

Anyway, I'll crack on with watching it.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
there didnt seem to be any faking the part where Jezza was having to pass the other car on the outside of the road...next to a sheer drop.

I'm afraid of heights, but just watching it made me feel queasy.
 
#3
I think there is a fair amount of it that is scripted interspersed with a fair bit of real time issues / occurrences. I reckon 50 / 50. Two spare / support 4 x 4's(just like the polar expedition)?
 
#4
"we had reached a small gully"....... right.... the same small gully that the researchers had found, practiced on etc.... but, were the presenters just driven there with a script? Driven there and told to crack on blind? Really are involved in writing the program and really did make it up as they went along?
 
#5
box-of-frogs said:
I think there is a fair amount of it that is scripted interspersed with a fair bit of real time issues / occurrences. I reckon 50 / 50. Two spare / support 4 x 4's(just like the polar expedition)?
Fair one. I wonder how long it took to make.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#6
Good CO said:
"we had reached a small gully"....... right.... the same small gully that the researchers had found, practiced on etc.... but, were the presenters just driven there with a script? Driven there and told to crack on blind? Really are involved in writing the program and really did make it up as they went along?
Not a chance in hell. Wait until you get to the end and see what 'accidentally' happens to Hammond's Toyota.
 

mysteron

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Hammond's vehicle being VOR at the end with no 4WD meant that they had to script the trashing of it rather than risk him going down the very steep dune.

Mostly scripted IMHO but interspersed with some genuine moments - Jezza and the cliff being one of the few. The whole raft scene was blantantly set up.
 
#8
mysteron said:
Hammond's vehicle being VOR at the end with no 4WD meant that they had to script the trashing of it rather than risk him going down the very steep dune.

Mostly scripted IMHO but interspersed with some genuine moments - Jezza and the cliff being one of the few. The whole raft scene was blantantly set up.
I doubt the insurance company would allow him anywhere near that edge. And the multiple camera angles would make me wonder how "staged" it was.
 
#9
That's what the beeb really get you, a modern Landcruiser. I wonder how much time they spent chilling out in the back of this?
 
#10
Never forget that Top Gear is an entertainment show, so nothing is always as it seems. Having said that, it is a very good entertainment show, and the trip looked fantastic.
As the owner of a small gay looking Suzuki, I was chuffed to see how well James May's car held up against more 'credible' trucks.
 
#11
Pronto_Mike_Uniform said:
mysteron said:
Hammond's vehicle being VOR at the end with no 4WD meant that they had to script the trashing of it rather than risk him going down the very steep dune.

Mostly scripted IMHO but interspersed with some genuine moments - Jezza and the cliff being one of the few. The whole raft scene was blantantly set up.
I doubt the insurance company would allow him anywhere near that edge. And the multiple camera angles would make me wonder how "staged" it was.
That was well done but as you say PMU, there is no way anyone would have risked that for a tv show. If you watch it again, the camera work suggests that it was set up.

As it would happen I saw Hammond on NY eve, perhaps I could have asked him but he was so plastered I doubt I would have got a sensible answer.
 
#13
For a split second I thought that twat Clarkson was actually going to fall into the abyss. I was greatly dissapointed when he didn't. Another chance wasted.

Quite pleased to see the Range Rover come out on top though. as for Hammy's Toyota at the end, it was quite clear that there was no way it was going to make it down that dune, so it supposedly rolling off on its own was a complete setup. Ta ta to the Toyota.
 
#14
"Oh my god we might get cerebral oedema!"

More likely, they had medical personnel continually monitoring the three presenters. They're not going to let them get killed.
 
#15
Don't forget that they are followed by a production unit and film crew, Risk assessments are done and parts are scripted. It's entertainment, do you expect Eastenders to be real?
 
#16
I enjoy Top Gear but most of it is scripted, it's gotten steadily more implausible with each season.

Like the episode where Jeremy gets shot at by a Panther ( which as it Happens I was watching for the first time sat in a Panther :D )
 
#19
Having worked with several members of Top Gear production crew I can assure you that a huge amount of work goes into these 'spontaneous moments'.

As Pronto Mike suggests, just looking at the various camera angles and how the light is always good shows how much time is involved. The quality of the camera work is always excellent and doesn't happen quickly or by accident.

If you get really pedantic you can see regular continuity errors (ie during the 'race' between the presenters from London to Edinburgh with Jezza on the train, the other two were supposedly neck and neck on the A1, yet one was filmed in glaring sunshine and the other was in pouring rain) although I was told that the film about Clarkson trying to do a sub 10 minute lap of the Nurburgring in a diesel 'S' type Jag and achieving it on the last run of the day was absolutely genuine. The Director even timed the amount of film used to verify the timings.

That said, it is an entertainment show and should be viewed as such.
 
R

Reversionary_Modes

Guest
#20
I've been lucky enough to do a couple of driving jobs for TV. Although neither of these were on the epic scale of TG's Arctic or Bolivian adventures, I'd be surprised if the same general principles did not apply. On one of them, it took a whole day of shooting just to get 8 mins of airtime in the can. To obtain the finished product, you do as many takes as the director feels he needs to get the sequence he wants, and during post-production, they can edit the footage to make it appear almost any way they want, within reason. On TV, things are rarely as they seem.

TG has a massive budget, and a reputation to uphold. So whilst what they do is never totally risk free (viz Hammond's shunt at Elvington) the risk is always managed and minimised as far as possible. To paraphrase the old saw: time spent in recce - and rehearsal - is never wasted.
 
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