chapter  13
Lifestyle: house and garden, makeover and motors, food and travel
Pages 19

A t the dawn of the new millennium, no one would have imagined that one of the mostenduringly successful television programmes in Britain would be a petrol-headshow, which had been around since 1977, with a presenter whose hair-style was of a similar vintage. Yet Top Gear was BBC2’s top-rated programme of 2007, with the episode on which Britain’s new Formula One driver-hero Lewis Hamilton appeared garnering an extraordinary 8.4 million viewers, just shy of Channel 4’s highest-rated Celebrity Big Brother.1 Jeremy Clarkson and his two sidekicks, James May and Richard Hammond, are regularly castigated for being macho throwbacks, grown-up schoolboys with an irresponsible taste for speed and disregard for road safety and the environment. Yet their programme also won the Royal Television Society award in the Best Features and Lifestyle Series category for 2007. The citation read: ‘This series has continually reinvented itself, and the three presenters really are Three Men in a Boat for the 21st Century.’2