“The British are back… I mean here” Top Gear India Christmas Special

Written by Chris Beaulieu January 02, 2012


This year’s Top Gear Christmas special has Clarkson, Hammond, and May on a trade mission to India to improve economic relations. English Prime Minister David Cameron even makes a brief appearance at the beginning to tell the Top Gear crew “stay away from India”—they go anyway. The special highlights the ironic reversal as India, the nation once colonized by the United Kingdom, now holds more economic sway over its former colonizer. Clarkson and company make small jabs, which suggests the English have come back begging forgiveness in their dire financial situation. Each host brings a British made car in order to prove their English engineering excellence to the Indian population.

The group started off in Mumbai to reveal their chosen cars. May picked a 1976 Rolls Royce, Clarkson brought a Jaguar XJS “Celebration Model”, and Hammond arrived in a classic Mini Cooper Sport. One of the most fascinating aspects of the special was learning about the Dabbawala in Mumbai, who deliver lunch to workers each day by train with surprising efficiency. The race against the Dabbawala train and the Jaipur mountain rally proved to be classic top gear challenges.

The first half of the special contained just the right amount of humor and challenges, however, the second half was much more farcical. The group usually fools around quite a bit (which is part of what makes Top Gear a great series), but things seemed a bit over the top in this special, especially with the garden party in Delhi. The entre episode seemed centered around the gags rather than the region. Previous Christmas specials in the Middle East and Vietnam took time to consider the unique beauty of each region. There was a brief appreciation as they drove through the Himalayan region, only to be followed by Clarkson blasting Genesis on his speakers to annoy Hammond. I will, however, admit that attaching the horn to May’s brakes was one of the funnier pranks I’ve seen.

While sometimes a bit too absurd, the Top Gear India Special takes a more heartwarming tone towards the end and ultimately presents a sense of nostalgia for Britain’s engineering past, as well as optimism for India’s economic future. It may not live up to previous Christmas specials, but Top Gear once again presents a foreign region in an interesting and entertaining way.

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About Chris Beaulieu

When Chris isn't studying film, reading English literature, fencing, or watching re-runs of Frasier on TV, it's because he's writing awesome reviews for We Eat Films.

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