TopGear Live in Sydney

It's everything you'd expect from the TopGear crew: supercars, stunts, pyrotechnics, sexist undertones and a healthy dose of English wit from the Clarkson/May one-liner factory. However, the pint sized stooge, Richard Hammond, was noticeably absent, which did reduce the humour of the show significantly.
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Even so, for me it was a great event and seems to have reclaimed some ground from the poor reviews last time around. The cars and action were front and centre with the ‘family entertainment’ sprinkled through what was a fast-paced night dedicated to the love of all things combustible. My wife even came along and, much to my surprise, loved every minute of it.

Maybe that's the secret of TopGear's longevity, the ability to entertain such a broad demographic, even while scoffing in the face of anything resembling political correctness ... and without losing the automotive faithful too much.

Much of the television program's format has been cleverly translated into the arena environment with the crowd getting into 'The Lap', an innovative take on the infamous Dunsfold Lap that so many celebrities and great cars have partaken on our small screens for years.

The 'Cool Wall' was replicated successfully with the aid of technology. In this segment my faith in the average Aussie's view on what makes a great (or not-so-great) car was somewhat restored. Everything from the Aston Martin DBS, BMW X6, Rolls Royce Phantom, Camaro and so many more were either idolised or canned as if deciding the fate of a gladiator in the Colosseum.

Continuing the Gladiator theme 'The Stig' was there fighting off the forces of evil in the form of a Romanesque death match delightfully titled 'Carmageddon, which finished with an amazing 360-degree loop the loop.

But even the Stig was upstaged by the TopGear stunt drivers. At various points in the show they pulled out some extremely talented precision driving stunts, particularly given the tight space on the Arena floor.

Next time around I'd suggest leaving the local talent behind with guest presenter Greg Murphy clearly more comfortable behind the wheel than in this format. At least he gave it a good go on short notice. Bring back Richard Hammond. (Sorry, Murph.) Karl Stephanovic and Michael Slater where rolled out by the Channel Nine PR machine with no real impact ... apart from Stephanovic's obsession with hugging anyone, including the hosts, if they got within two feet of him. That's just so wrong - at least it is if you're in an arena packed with with beer-loving, V8-worshiping Aussie blokes and blokettes. Which we were.

TopGear Live is a great night of light entertainment, and most people will get (at the very least) a chuckle.

Photos courtesy of TopGear Live.