Cars on TV – the struggle to make it work

It seems it’s very difficult to make good car telly. There’s some stuff which is alright, some stuff which was good once and should now respectfully retire, and an awful lot of pure bunkum.

The Classic Car Show. Too much glitz, not enough realism

The latest attempt at motoring glory is The Classic Car Show on Channel 5. Now, a prime-time, terrestrial channel slot suggest a show worthy of attention. If only it were so. It isn’t dreadful – Classic Car Rescue also on Channel 5 is about as bad as car programmes (any programmes) get – but it isn’t very good either. We’re forced to watch Quentin Willson gush on about fancy cars in a manner that suggests he cares more about how he appears than the car he’s talking about, while poor Jodie Kidd attempts to replicate Quentin’s hideously false presenting style. People just don’t talk like that! When Jodie Kidd appeared on Top Gear some years ago, and surprised us with her interest in cars, she came across as an enthusiast nattering down the pub. I wish she’d do more of that. I watched one full episode, but actually turned off the second. It was too awful – Quentin proudly telling the world how wonderful the Rolls-Royce Cornice is – oh and by the way, he just thought he’d better say that he bought the one being featured. Then an interview montage including some brain-dead pap from Britt Ekland, who looked like a startled fish in a wig. I don’t want to watch people who know NOTHING about cars prattle on about lifestyle. I don’t enjoy cars because of lifestyle! It’s depressing more than anything else. It was a chance for a great programme and it just falls short, even though the piece on TR7s was quite good – until Quentin told everyone how crap they are in a painful scripted argument with Jodie. Oh dear.

Fortunately, there is some good stuff out there. I quite enjoy Car SOS, which thankfully is nothing at all like the aforementioned drivel of Classic Car Rescue. In Car SOS, Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw restore cars for people – secretly for a bit of extra fun. I won’t proclaim it the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s nice, cuddly and enjoyable. It’s a Morris Minor Traveller. Best of all, it’s full of actual car content. Lots of facts, some great restoration skills and a chance to learn a lot more about classic cars and how they work. Great stuff and I’m glad it seems to keep coming back for another series.

Car SOS – feels like a Morris Traveller (not pictured)

Classic Car Rescue on the other hand manages to be even more stupid than Top Gear, and show that gets defended by its creators because lots of people watch it. Lots of people watch Jeremy Kyle. Lots of viewers doesn’t mean what you’re churning out is any good.

So, telly isn’t doing very well. What about other media?

Like the internet. I’m a complete convert to Roadkill. It’s good, honest, old-fashioned larking about with cars. Not in the Three Stooges manner that has made Top Gear so unwatchable, but more like Scrapyard Challenge with added reality, more V8s and actual on-road adventures. Every petrolhead can relate to what they do, especially when they drag something out of a scrapyard and try to drive home in it. The presenters have a great chemistry and show motoring for what it truly is – bloody good fun!

Now that’s Roadkill! Often involves V8s and ridiculous tinkering

3 thoughts on “Cars on TV – the struggle to make it work

  1. Yes, a potentially excellent new show ruined by toe-curlingly awful scripted ‘banter’ between the presenters (I use the term ‘presenter’ in the loosest possible sense of the word in Jodie’s case). I have always liked Quentin Willson, but all the ‘touchscreen’ presentation stuff was contrived and embarrassing, a bit like seeing your grandma in hotpants.

    • Oh yes. I forgot that touchscreen bit. Oh well. It can take time for new shows to bed in, so if it comes back, maybe it’ll have the sharp edges knocked off.

  2. As nice as the cars are, the programme seems to be aimed at those who can actually afford to buy and run classics that often sell for prices that look like telephone numbers. No doubt the American viewers will lap it up so I’m sure it will do well.
    Car SOS and Wheeler Dealers on the other hand are pitched at the right level – i.e car enthusiasts living in the real world.

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