This is the question that currently has the British tabloids in a spin, after the Daily Mail published comments from unnamed sources suggesting up to 80 per cent of the driving featured on the show is actually the work of professional drivers.
The Mail named Formula 3 driver Aaron Scott as just one of many ghost drivers employed by the BBC to take the place of Clarkson, and fellow presenters Richard Hammond and James May.
“Top Gear rely on professional racing drivers a lot more than the show would suggest,” a source said.“I would say 80 per cent of the driving on the show is done by pros but it is made to look as if it’s done by Jeremy. When you see the wheels on a car spinning and smoke coming out, that will more than likely be a professional driver.“It’s been going on for years. The fact is the presenters on Top Gear are presenters. They are not professional drivers, so why would you get them to do a job that an expert can do better, faster and in one take?”
At the centre of the controversy is a clip that aired in 2008, in which Clarkson was shown to hit 207mph (333km/h) in a Lamborghini Murcielago.
Another unnamed source told the Mail:
“That was Aaron getting to 207mph in the wet, not Jeremy.”
Understandably, Clarkson has reacted angrily to the claims and refuted them entirely in a response to the Mirror:
“Any claims that I fake Top Gear road tests are utter rubbish,” Clarkson said.“When I say I’m driving at 207mph, it’s because I’m driving at 207mph. If the director chooses later in the day to get a shot of the speedo reading 207mph, then good for him.”
The BBC backed up its star presenter in a statement, insisting that Clarkson performed “all of the challenges you see him perform on Top Gear”.
“When Jeremy, James and Richard are seen driving on the show, it is them driving, but on occasion, the crew may need to go back and get pick-up shots.”
What do you think of the claims? And does it bother you that some of the driving footage is not performed by the three presenters? Let us know in the comments section below.