Future of Top Gear Australia in doubt as British series returns

Top Gear Australia: scrapped?

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.

Top Gear Australia failed to win a big audience when it returned to Nine for its second season a year ago, pulling in less than half of the ratings of its debut audience in 2010.

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.


  1. Anonymous
    18 Sep 12
    12:46 pm

  2. The main reason for TGUK’s success is the chemistry between the three hosts.

    TGAU doesn’t have that (nor the huge production budgets) – of course it’ll fail.

  3. blc1981
    18 Sep 12
    1:20 pm

  4. TGAU is still going?

  5. elephino
    18 Sep 12
    1:55 pm

  6. Top Gear Australia had a future?

  7. Louis
    18 Sep 12
    1:57 pm

  8. The Aussie Top Gear was anything but. To say it was cringeworthy is massively understating it.

    The cast was shite, and the forced “humour” and saccharine camaraderie was truly nauseating. And hardly a car review in sight. Just stupid stunt after stupid stunt.

    I can’t believe they’re actually considering playing the unseen episodes.
    What a waste of electricity.

  9. Barry Minster
    18 Sep 12
    2:10 pm

  10. You are also missing an important part of the equation, an imported show cost a whole lot less than a local show. Boo Hoo ch9, use Aussie talent and Aussie crews.

  11. sofakingwetoddit
    18 Sep 12
    2:16 pm

  12. good old Nine… they sure do know how to burn a program

  13. Ashley
    18 Sep 12
    2:22 pm

  14. TGAU was too “ockerish “. You can be interested in cars and watch others (ie the presenters) enjoy them without being a bogan.

  15. Dan
    18 Sep 12
    2:30 pm

  16. YES!!!! Just as it should be. Such a good decision, thankyou BBC!

  17. Mark
    18 Sep 12
    2:35 pm

  18. Top Gear has been murdered by Channel 9. Will be good to see if they manage to grab any audience growth with the next series.

  19. Nath
    18 Sep 12
    2:36 pm

  20. TGUK just hasn’t seem the same popularity since it moved to Nine because it’s been shunted around, no one knows when it’s on or which channel it’s on, and whether or not it’s a repeat! I tuned in the other day on GEM, and found the first episode of the seventeenth season showing. It really is a toss-up what you’re going to get when you look up “Top Gear” on your DVR’s guide. When it was on SBS, one of the fundamental keys to its success was the fact that you always knew what night it was on, and what time it was on. It was almost an event in the household when it was Top Gear Night!

    As for TGAU, I reckon the only way it can possibly compete is if it’s not competing with TGUK! In other words, if TGAU is shown not just on a night when TGUK isn’t on, but during the TGUK off-season, it has a shot. But the presenters have to nail down the best possible cars, the best possible challenges, and they have to figure out what niche they can possibly fill that TGUK isn’t currently filling. There’s only so many times you can show Holden vs Ford, I’m afraid.

  21. Small World
    18 Sep 12
    3:04 pm

  22. I love the UK Office. I cant stand the US version (although the roll out into the US worked very well for that product.)

    For Top Gear it isn’t a show for car enthusiasts. It is a show for all and sundry, it’s jovial, it’s funny, it’s fast moving.

    Why bother with an Aussie show, when the actual circus can come to town for a few local episodes anyway?

    Perhaps a local hybrid show for actual car enthusiasts could be the way to go? ‘Top Gear Talk’, aimed at the car enthusiast and not the mass market?

    The world has shrunk and if you love TGUK then the Aussie version simply will not come close. (It is like a load of Aussies trying to do Jackass) – it’s been done.

  23. MC
    18 Sep 12
    5:00 pm

  24. Nath, I agree! I loved watching the UK version on SBS as it was on the same time, on the same night each week and no repeats interlaced with new episodes! You could actually watch the season rom ep1 to the final and follow it. The same could be said for other shows as well. Ch9, bring back TGUK, put it on a weeknight in prime time and let people enjoy it from start to finish, and not let them guess when it’s on!

  25. Trent
    18 Sep 12
    6:22 pm

  26. Top Gear US works reasonably well because they haven’t simply tried to emulate TGUK. it’s not the same but is actually watchable unlike the Aus version.

  27. fleshpeddler
    18 Sep 12
    6:49 pm

  28. I’m glad it’s in doubt – it’s shit. So are most of the copy cat shows – Selling Houses Australia is painful to watch

  29. WD
    19 Sep 12
    10:57 am

  30. Bring back Peter Wherrett and his dresses, I say.

  31. Richard Moss
    20 Sep 12
    10:55 am

  32. The following are just four of the marks of the amateur.

    “We could do that , only we can do it better”

    “Not relevant to us, we can do our own version”

    ” Let’s make it funny, let’s do a John Cleese ”

    “Get Dignum to front it, he’s a funny bastard down at the pub, hell be a hit”

    Don’t forget that even professionals with a very high profile can get it wrong. W C Fields when playing Micawber in the film version of David Copperfield, pleaded with the director to let him include his juggling act into the characterisation. When the director became firm and refused, Fields replied “Why not?” “It would improve this Dickens twaddle”

    Why do television networks continue to make the same mistakes year after year after year? They employ a high number of amateurs and/or people who simply do not know that you can’t copy and call it your own because you will always be trying for something which is not in your heart. Neither do they know that you can never make a comedy by trying to be funny. You can never sustain drama by constant emoting, and you can never produce reality, because you will find yourself constantly directing it back onto the rails.

    Drama , Comedy and Light Entertainment require a lot of hard work, and inspired crew, cast, writers and viewers.

  33. Hoin
    20 Sep 12
    4:14 pm

  34. The Footy Show on wheels.

  35. Tiffany
    21 Sep 12
    9:07 am

  36. Australia simply doesn’t produce the calibre of cars that UK and the US have access to. And if we did have access, it’s impossible to get approval to trash them TGUK style. Plus, they need better hosts, not ocker larrikins. And perhaps 2 regular hosts plus a surprise host each episode. As one of the regular hosts, we need to find a regular Joe that has the 20 car garage full of the classics, knows his stuff and is presentable. Audiences can tune into someone with authentic knowledge, instead of from a script.
    I think we can do it, we are seeing more car back yard / amateur car shows on TV. There is a hole in the aussie market for a good mainstream car show. We just need the right mix!

  37. Keithy
    21 Sep 12
    12:44 pm

  38. Easy fix here Nine… schedule the latest series at the same time each week and let the audience find the show. Worked for SBS so stop trying to re-invent the wheel programming dept!