Top Gear is a BBC television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars. It began in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine show. Over time, and especially since a relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous style. The show is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and also features a test driver known as The Stig. The programme is estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide.
First run episodes are broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two. Top Gear is also shown on Dave, BBC America, BBC Canada, RTÉ Two in Ireland, SBS in Australia (until 2010), and a number of other television channels around the world. The popularity of the show has led to the creation of two international versions, with local production teams and presenters for Australia and Russia. Episodes of the Australian version premiered on 29 September 2008 and NBC was holding the American version for broadcast in February or March 2009, as a possible mid-season replacement, but later dropped it from their schedule before production resumed.
The show has received acclaim for its visual style and presentation, as well as considerable criticism for its content and comments made by presenters. Columnist A. A. Gill described the show as 'a triumph of the craft of programme-making, of the minute, obsessive, musical masonry of editing, the french polishing of colourwashing and grading'.