There is a reciprocal love-hate relationship between motor industry public relations practitioners and the programme. I organised a visit to the studio a few years ago and was told that PRs from motor manufacturers weren’t allowed.
From the PR perspective, the programme often vandalises cars that have been loaned (such as driving them through the sea or off-road) and doesn’t take the time to check its facts on specification of cars being tested.
Clarkson admits the last series was less concerned about road testing models as it responded to the needs of a larger audience. He believes that these audiences want more entertainment – that’s more “Jackass” with the boys mucking about.
So big audiences means fewer cars. Is this the right conculsion? It could be that many of the additional viewers tuned in because of the recent celebrity status of Richard Hammond, rather than because they like the new format.
Comments on JC’s blog, seem to largely back him up re the celebrity-entertainment route. Although other programmes are able to make topics such as technology, gardening and travel, interesting and informative for those looking for advice as well as entertainment.
Maybe it is time for some alternatives – why just one car programme on the Beeb – what about a green car programme? Or should PRs in the motor industry focus on-line where more video can be offered – such as car reviews on the likes of What Car? online? I’m meeting the editor of that site tomorrow – so I’ll check out his views.