Life

TV Review: Top Gear is as useful as a Jeremy Clarkson impersonation

Seasick Steve, Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Eddie Jordan and Sharleen Spiteri on the second episode of Top Gear
Billy Foley

Rich Brother, Poor Brother, Channel 4, Tuesday at 9pm

This was less a story about the differences between being rich and poor and more about the randomness of life chances.

Rich brother Ivan Massow is a successful businessman, an art collector and acquaintance of the prime minister; while his brother David lives in a van and believes a higher power is sending him messages.

It’s a decent proposition for a television programme and the rich/poor bit is a great hook but really is was a story about success and failure, mental health, celebrity and ego.

Ivan (who was born Field) was adopted by the Massow family as a pre-teen after a ‘difficult relationship’ with his father and step-father. According to his Wiki page he’s dyslexic and left school with one O-level.

He cites this difficult start himself as a driving force in his business success.

Undoubtedly, he craves adulation. He has all the trappings of success - the big house in London, a flat in Barcelona, an art collection, apparently endless paintings of himself and a stable of horses.

He tells the camera he has probably given David £100,000 over the years, but later looks into the lens and says he would never tell David how much money he had given him, because it would destroy his brother.

He name checks David Cameron but left the Conservative Party briefly to join the then winning Labour Party in 2000.

He’s also got a bit of a media career going, which explains why he would expose his difficult relationship with his brother to the television cameras.

That, and perhaps the fact that he declared in 2014 that he wanted to be the Conservative candidate for Lord Mayor of London. Was that around the time that this programme was being planned?

His younger brother David lives in a white van, eschews the world of capitalism and believes that an unknown planet is going to crash into the earth on July 11.

In a kind of a ‘wife swap’ format they go to live at each other’s houses for four days, except when it comes to it Ivan refuses to sleep in the van.

David is no doubt damaged, perhaps by his relative failure, perhaps by hallucinogenic drugs or his life as a child.

But as a viewer, I kept asking himself - which one do I like more?

By the end I think I liked them both and that is what made it excellent reality television. It posed questions about family life, success, what it means to be rich and mental health.

Watch it on 4OD, it’s worth the effort.

***

Top Gear, BBC 2, Sunday at 9pm

Don’t bother looking up the iPlayer to find the second instalment of the new season of Top Gear - It’s even worse than I had imagined.

The set’s the same, the music is the same, the stunts are the same, the jokes are the same, the Stig is introduced in the same way - Chris Evans even appears to impersonate Jeremy Clarkson.

Take this. Testing a £10 million McLaren F1 675LT on the same airport runway they’ve been using for years, Evans soars through the 100mph mark and keeps going.

“This is bad … six months in prison,” as it climbs above 150mph. “18 months in prison ... never see your kids again … aaggghhh.”

Now who does that remind you of?

Even the same mindless waste continues. The BBC took our money and sent Evans, his co-presenters and three celebrities to South Africa to test three school-run wagons.

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