Jaguar XKR from 1990s
Cars, Children, Family

Rite of passage: Watching Top Gear

Does that sound a bit ridiculous?

Well, I would have said so too until himself suggested that since its half term and large boy is almost 9 and the clocks went back so it’s not such a late night, would large boy like to stay up and watch Top Gear with us this week.

A family event

Even back in the day before Top Gear became an entertainment show, when it was all about the cars, watching it was a family event in my parents’ house. Just like Doctor Who or when the BBC made all the series of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. We’d all sit down together and watch as a family.

My dad would inevitably disagree with the more ludicrous reviews from Jeremy Clarkson, my mum would agree on all the practical comments and my brother and I would wait avidly for the thrilling cars to come on. Who wants to see a Vauxhall Vectra when we could be watching Jaguars and TVRs?

Since leaving home and meeting himself, Top Gear turned into more of a personality driven show. But we loved it none the less, we’d watch it with housemates and then just the two of us. For years himself had a magazine subscription and I’d read each month’s issue too – especially the lovely James May’s articles.

Then all the changes of more recent years came along. Chris Evans was a bit shouty and trying too hard, Matt Leblanc was surprisingly good and I do miss him. Flintoff and McGuiness don’t know what they’re doing and are clearly just mucking about having fun, but Chris Harris does a decent job of tempering that with experience and expertise.

Growing up

I guess it’s already evident that I’m not a stereotypically girly girl. I never had boy bands festooning my bedroom walls. Yeah so I did have Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. But I also had a Jaguar XK8 posted up, I just loved the lines and the sleek sophistication.

Pic from Autoevolution

Sure that wasn’t really mirrored in the humour and style of the Jeremy Clarkson presentations, but Tiff Needell and Quentin Wilson were so quietly knowledgable and informative. Hell, I wanted to be Vicki Butler-Henderson.

Passing it on

We’ve introduced the boys to bits of the Clarkson, May and Hammond years’ Top Gear evolution – they loved watching all of the attempts to destroy a Toyota Hilux and guffawed at tumbling-over Robin Reliants. Both boys love their car books and we have fab photos of them as toddlers perusing Top Gear magazine, showing a Subaru history book to Colin McRae on TV or waving at a Stirling Moss interview.

But now the time as come for large boy’s involvement to be promoted from YouTube and Dave reruns, up to watching it live on a Sunday night with his parents – just like himself and I both did with ours.

Its not the same sort of tradition as reading The Night Before Christmas, making gingerbread houses or experiencing family camp. But, for our family, it is quintessentially “us”. Large boy getting to stay up late and watch Top Gear is yet another sign that he’s growing up. He loved it and spent lots of time on Monday retelling anyone who would listen about what he’d seen.

I’m trying not to dwell on how this means he’s no longer a little boy. Instead, I’m looking forward to a different sort of shared experience with him – more on an equal footing than with a clear parent and child hierarchy. Not so different I suppose from him recommending books to me.

31 thoughts on “Rite of passage: Watching Top Gear”

  1. I haven’t watched Top Gear since Clarkson, Hammond, and May left. I can’t bear to watch it without them. I watched seasons 1 – 20 of the previous (proper) Top Gear. The Grand Tour was quite fun as well.

    All the best, Michelle (

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I think it’s a great tradition! Nice that you’ve got it narrowed down to just one – we juggle a few tv series around here but that might change as my daughter gets a bit older. And Top Gear is definitely more personality driven for us…ok..for me at least!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is such a nice family bonding! My Dad and I used to have TV series that we would watch together too like House M.D and Prison Break.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was the same for me and my older brother too watching top gear and tomorrow’s world and the likes while mum snoozed in the chair. They were great memories and I look forward to finding a show with common ground that I can watch with my girls as they grow up. No chance of the likes of top gear with them, they just aren’t interested sadly.

    My poster was a Porsche 911 and Colin McRaes Suburu impreza in mid flight balls out going for it on a rally stage 😁.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have only recently started following you after finding you in one of the same social groups I am in. I am glad that I did discover your blog though. I love your openness in your writing. With that being said, I had to look up Top Gear, as I am not familiar with it. I have discovered it is a British television series. I, unfortunately, have not had the pleasure of viewing it. However, it is wonderful that you have found a way to carry on the tradition of family bonding you once shared with your own parents. Being a parent of grown children, I can say I agree wholeheartedly that the shared experiences do change through the years, but each and every one is something to relish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lovely to meet you, I only recently started following your blog too.
      I think this is the first big transition towards an equal relationship with large boy. He’s growing up and for the first time, I’m not afraid of that. I’m so excited to share grown up things with him. It’s a lovely feeling watching him experience these things.


  6. I thought Chris Evans was dreadful. And Matt Leblanc only so, so. Flintoff and McGuinness only clown around, really, but I don’t find them as irritating for some reason. I must admit, I was kind of hoping that they would draft Sabine Schmitz as one of the regular presenters …

    Have you considered going to the dark side and watching The Grand Tour?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to say I totally agree that there comes a time in everyone’s life where you need to embrace Top Gear.

    My Dad used to watch it but I put it in the antique roadshow category and just instantly disliked it.

    It’s actually a great show and I love Flintoff! The 3 of them work so well together x

    Liked by 2 people

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