Future of Top Gear Australia in doubt as British series returns
BBC Worldwide’s Top Gear format is returning to Channel Nine – but the future of the Australian spin-off show is up in the air.
Nine told Mumbrella that the network would run the remaining episodes of last year’s series, which ended early due to poor ratings, to see how the show fared this year. The network added that it had “not yet made a decision” on whether to run another series of Top Gear Australia.
However, a BBC Worldwide spokesperson told Mumbrella that there were “no plans” to bring the Freehand-produced show back.
The British version of the popular car show is to return – but airing first on pay TV and later on free to air.
Viewers will be able to watch the 19th series of Top Gear on BBC Knowledge, just a few days after the show debuts in the UK. But free to air viewers will have to wait until “some months” later to watch the show on Nine and digital channel Gem.
Though popular when carried by its former Australian TV platform SBS, changing timeslots, delayed episodes and plentiful ad breaks were blamed for denting the popularity of Top Gear when it transitioned to Nine.
BBC Worldwide’s director of sales Julie Dowding said in a press release: “This is a significant deal for BBC Worldwide Australasia and for Australian Top Gear fans. We are fast-tracking Top Gear to Australia by closing the transmission window, offering premium value to viewers on our wholly owned channel BBC Knowledge, and ensuring that all Australians get the opportunity to view Top Gear by continuing our successful relationship with the Nine Network.’
Michael Healy, Nine’s director of TV added: ‘We’re delighted to be continuing our successful relationship with Top Gear, bringing one of the world’s biggest shows to all Australians on Nine.”
Top Gear, which is watched in 244 territories around the world, was recently named the most widely watched factual TV program by the Guinness World Records.