Top Gear Australia has officially been scrapped by Channel Nine midway through the show’s fourth season on the back of dwindling ratings results.
There was confusion at Channel Nine this morning over the status of the show.
An employee in the programming department told CarAdvice the show had not been axed, but would be given a new time slot to help its ratings. The programming worker said they were quite sure Top Gear Australia would continue into a fifth season.
But when speaking with a more senior member of Channel Nine’s publicity department, we received a very different response to the question ‘Has it been axed?’
“It has,” the publicity worker confirmed.
In an official statement, Nine admitted it has decided to “rest” Top Gear Australia.
“The remaining episodes of series two [Nine's second season, the fourth in total] will return to Nine’s schedule later in the year.”
Long-term host Steve Pizzati put the speculation to an end this morning over Twitter:
“It’s true- as of next week, TGA will be on at the special time of not at all. Sorry to the open-minded people that gave it a go AND enjoyed!”
“To all the supporters (esp the ones that came to the studio), to all the manufacturers that gave us cars and to all in production- THANKYOU!”
“We’re told the last three episodes will make an appearance in the summer. Or try Blockbuster Video in the BetaMax section.”
The writing was on the wall for Top Gear Australia, with Pizzati poking fun at the network’s decision to shift the program to a later time slot last week:
“Remember kids, our show is on at 9:30pm tonight because (according to the promo) that’s a SPECIAL time!”
Top Gear Australia became the first spin-off the successful BBC franchise when the first episode aired on SBS in September 2008. The show attracted 933,000 viewers, the most ever for an Australian-produced television program on SBS.
The first series averaged around 650,000 viewers per episode, and that dipped to about 577,000 for the second series.
The show switched to Channel Nine for the third season and launched with a bang. The Ashes special episode, which featured the BBC presenters in a series of challenges against the Australian hosts, pulled a record 1.538 million viewers.
Ratings over the past fortnight have reportedly fallen to around 400,000 viewers, leading to Nine’s decision to pull the plug.
Over four seasons, Top Gear Australia had six different hosts. Pizzati, currently teamed with Shane Jacobson and Ewan Page, was the only one to appear in every episode.
Are you happy or sad to see Top Gear Australia go? Why do you think it failed to attract consistent, strong audiences? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.