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top-off

Top Ground Gear Force

Top Ground Gear Force (once referred to as Top Garden Ground Gear Force) was a one-off TV special, featuring the cast of BBC's Top Gear, which originally aired on BBC Two at 22:00GMT on 14 March 2008 as part of Sport Relief 2008. It was repeated on Easter Monday, 2008. It borrowed its format from Top Gear of the Pops, a similar one-off special which aired as part of Comic Relief 2007. Whereas Top Gear of The Pops combined Top Gear with Top of the Pops, this episode combines the motoring show with Ground Force, a gardening make-over show which ran on the BBC from 1998-2005.

Regular Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond take over sportsman Sir Steve Redgrave's garden, to dispense advice on creating a zero-maintenance lawn, installing an impressive water-feature and getting rid of unwanted plants. Naturally, disaster ensues.

Title screen

Like Top Gear of the Pops the title screen and music was changed to suit the programme. Instead of having cars in the background, images of gardening were shown instead. Very oddly, the images somehow bore a strong resemblance to the Top Gear title screen (e.g. dirt coming out of a spinning pot, similar to a car wheel spinning and kicking up water from the ground) Hammond was seen pushing a spade into the ground, and then holding it over his shoulder. May was seen holding a wheelbarrow, and breaking a gnome in half (in replacement of him pushing a button on a remote control in the Top Gear title screen). Clarkson was seen with a pair of open hedge trimmers, which he then snaps shut.

Ending credits

The Top Gear ending credits were also adapted to suit the programme's resemblance to Ground Force - the presenters' names were listed as Alan Clarksmarsh, Tommy Hammond and Jamesy Dimmock (references to Ground Force presenters Alan Titchmarsh, Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock respectively). The rest of the crew were all listed as having the first name "Monty".

Synopsis

The Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond decide, for Sport Relief to resurrect the show Ground Force, and provide a garden makeover to the garden of one of Britain's 'sporting legends', namely Sir Stephen Redgrave. Helping them are a team of Poles, and on hand to provide advice on Sir Steve's tastes is Lady Redgrave (who is erroneously addressed and referred to as "Lady Ann").

As the team's only 'country bumpkin', Hammond is the team leader. However, his garden plan fails to impress Clarkson and May, who want to include a water feature and a shed, respectively. They are sent to a Wyevale Garden Centre to pick up supplies, returning with their desired equipment.

Hammond uses a small digger to dig a trench, to be used to create a 'river of gravel.' Clarkson earlier revealed his unique method for pulling up weeds and cutting branches off trees using a shotgun. Hammond's digger topples over in the trench, so he returns with a much larger digger to pull it out, resulting in leaving numerous caterpillar track marks all over the garden lawn. Meanwhile, James and the Poles have completed the shed, but Clarkson accidentally shoots a hole in it, breaking a window.

Hammond's tree seat is completed, however it's completed outside the tree trunk. He brings in a 14 ton crane to hook the seat so he could slip it over the tree. The crane is too heavy and sinks into the lawn, leaving huge holes in it. However the crane is long enough to hook onto the seat. However, because of Richard's inexperience with cranes, he accidentally swishes the seat sideways, destroying both the shed and the seat.

Clarkson decides to remove a rockery by using a homemade bomb. During the explosion one wall of the shed James has rebuilt, after it was destroyed by Hammond, is smashed by the blast. After this happens May steps out of the shed with a plank of wood, and asks what time the programme will air. After being informed it was going to air after the watershed, he exclaims 'you're a fu-'. At this point, the episode cuts to the next scene.

Jeremy orders some cement to pave over the garden, but he orders too little, and only a small portion of the garden is covered. Hammond gets stuck in the cement, and Jeremy lifts him out. James' shed is rebuilt for the third time while Jeremy erects some rugby posts (despite being told that none of Sir Stephen Redgrave's family plays rugby). However, he and the Poles accidentally drop the posts on James' shed, squashing the roof and part of the walls. This leads to James angrily telling Clarkson to apologise while pointing a two-by-four at him. Hammond reveals his barbecue system, which uses a jet engine to rotate the meat and cook it. However, the blades rotate too fast and flings the chickens off the roticary and the fire from the engine sets James' newly-rebuilt (for the fourth time) shed on fire.

The team then received word that Sir Steve Redgrave was coming up the drive to the house. Redgrave is upset at the destruction of his garden, so the Poles run away. Eventually he comes around thanks to Jeremy talking to him privately. Jeremy then shows off his turbo-charged water feature, which blows the top off itself due to the water pressure and crashes into the greenhouse built by the Poles, breaking all the glass. Until then, the greenhouse was the only structure still intact (and the only item in the garden Steve Redgrave was pleased with).

Ratings

On its first showing in the UK on BBC Two, the programme obtained 4.5 million viewers which equated to a 22% audience share for its timeslot between 10pm and 10.40pm. The programme was part of the Sport Relief fundraising evening, and the Sport Relief programmes preceding it on BBC One between 7pm and 10pm averaged 6.2 million viewers (28% audience share) and the Sport Relief programmes on BBC One between 10.50pm and 1am averaged 2.6 million viewers (29% audience share).

References

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