When this letter by Laurie Pierce dropped into the DCR inbox, I didn’t immediately see its potential. Then it occurred to me that DCR could forward any applications for the role of Top Gear presenter to the high-ups at the BBC. So, if you think that you, or your sister-in-law could be a worthy replacement for Mr. Clarkson on Top Gear, send in your applications. The most original will be featured here.
Dear BBC2 Top Gear,
As a consumer and peripatetic licence fee payer, I am delighted that someone at BBC2 followed through on the commitment to give Jeremy Clarkson no more last chances. If the stories one hears are true, then he has committed a crime against another person, known in polite circles as “grievous bodily harm”. We can only hope that he will face the same justice system that so many mere mortals do every day.
Now on to the business of a Top Gear replacement. We’ve all heard the comments of the past week. Words like “indispensible” and “glue” have peppered the airwaves and column inches. In fact and practice, no one is truly irreplaceable. As a species, we constantly substitute and shuffle. It’s what keeps us resilient.
Frankly, this is a golden opportunity for Top Gear producers to do something truly radical with the programme. And that something is…..my sister-in-law Mary Jarvie.
Mary is a 49-year-old mum of three from North Berwick in eastern Scotland. She is a socio-economic consultant who works with social enterprises in the UK and Ireland to obtain better outcomes for their clients. She’s a brilliant mother, a loving wife, a caring daughter and the best sister-in-law on Planet Earth. She’s also a petrol head.
1. Gender – Do I even need to mention this? 51% of the world’s population has no representation on the show. Mary would alter the maths. Women who watch the show already would have a new hero/ine. More women would follow. James and Richard would have an unlikely foil. The dynamic would be exquisite.
2. Regionalism – You’ve had three English blokes for yonks. In a 12-month period that has seen off the dismantling of our United Kingdom, the presence of a Scot would show that Top Gear has moved with the times. Even Nicola Sturgeon would applaud the selection.
3. Hot meals at odd hours in rough circumstances – Really? He punched someone over hot food? What a tit. Mary, on the other hand, can make a horse head cake for 15 children under the age of nine using nothing more than flour, water, sugar and dyes found in nature (bark, flowers, forest undergrowth). She also excels at tea. No more pesky litigation.
4. Motoring credentials – Mary has owned an Audi A3 and it was red. RED. You should have seen her navigate the A1 in it. Magic. But even more impressive are the internal combustion beasts that have come since. She customised a van to hold her family of five humans and two dogs for camping weekends in the driving rain. And her children do not hate her for it. Okay, well, maybe the oldest one does. She even installed a fridge powered by the lighter. She now drives an ancient Hyundai i10, which she has managed to transform from a crisp-littered economy ride into a North Berwick-to-Glasgow-in-under-70-minutes racer on a teaspoon of petrol. Let the Top Gear lads top that.
5. Diplomatic skills – Mary deals with government every day. She works with people at the hard end of life. She is equally at home with the horsey set. Basically, she knows how to communicate with people across the cultural and socio-economic spectrum. As in will not create an international incident. Ever. Unless, of course, that was part of your cunning plan. I’m sure that getting pelted with missiles, threatened with physical harm and losing thousands of pounds was a good strategy in Argentina. I wonder what you had planned for the Islamic State episode.
If you are still reading this screed, you have seen five compelling arguments for my sister-in-law to become the new face in the Top Gear troika. Are you creative enough, ballsy enough, mad enough to take this challenge? A woman with no public profile, who embodies the quotidian? An individual who looks like the rest of us, with whom we can relate on a personal, almost visceral level?
Mary is a scientist and a social worker. A mum and a daughter. A person who struggles every day and has a rich life. A human being, like you and me.
You can and should do this.