‘Top Gear’ – Remembering dear old Dad’s car

Hosts get wistful in unique season opener

Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris (from left) star in Season 30 of “Top Gear,” premiering Sunday on BBC America and also streaming on AMC+.

Fans of BBC America’s “Top Gear” love it for its blend of outrageous vehicular stunts, car knowledge and levity. But in the Season 30 premiere, things take a turn for the sentimental.

In the episode debuting Sunday, April 25 (and also streaming on AMC+), hosts Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness drive the vehicles of their childhood, their fathers’ cars, through the Lake District of northwestern England. The memories that came to them were overwhelming as they cruised through the scenic countryside.

Harris, who was initially uncomfortable with the idea of delving into his personal life on camera, forgot all that once he got behind the wheel of the replica of the BMW 323i his dad drove.

“I think it reminds us of how much of our formative years … spent with our parents were spent in a motor vehicle,” he explains, “because that’s where you went to school, you went to your clubs, you went to sports clubs on the weekend, you visited relatives, you went on holiday. How many significant conversations did you have with your parents in a motor car rather than in the home? And it all starts to come back and then you start to realize that the way that your parents interacted with their cars or particularly your father in this case was almost a projection of their personality. So it was a really interesting exercise.”

Among other segments this season include a punishing off-road adventure in the Scottish Highlands, a consideration of mid-life crisis cars, a race with a man in a jet pack and a test drive of some of the most iconic cars from James Bond movies, including the Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger,” complete with oil slick and smoke machines and fake guns in the tail and fog lights.

And due to the pandemic, the show will have a new backdrop: outdoors in the courtyard of London’s Television Centre, home of the BBC.

“That’s the most iconic TV building for 60-70 years in the U.K. …,” Harris says, “And we were the first people ever to use it as a set, effectively. So if you’re a British TV viewer, it has great significance. It’s kind of up there with the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building for us. It’s that significant.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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