They're British TV's two outstanding car shows - but which is the greatest? Clarkson and the gang or Tiff and his team?
Tiff Needell, Chris Ryan, Jason Plato and Vicki Butler-Henderson make for a formidable team, and Fifth Gear consistently provides some of the best car journalism you'll ever see on television. In the other corner, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May from Top Gear serve up candid reviews and cunning stunts. But which is the greatest show? Gape in wonder as two of our Daves argue the toss as to which is the better Gear...
The case for Top Gear
By Dave Rahmdel
Well it's Top Gear, isn't it, clearly? Trying to claim Fifth Gear is better is like saying that you prefer Shakin' Stevens to Elvis. It's legal, yes, but anyone who holds that opinion should very probably be considered for sectioning, immediately. As a minimum. Top Gear's been setting the standard for TV motoring for literally decades, and since its reboot in the early Noughties it's funnier than most sitcoms, more informative than a Stephen Fry voiceover, and, let's not forget this, it's got the Stig. He once punched a horse to the ground – what more do you want, people? The fact of the matter is that Top Gear is also one of the most popular British telly exports in the world. Never mind David Beckham – we reckon there are whole villages in Asia whose homes are plastered with pictures of Clarkson. Terrifying a prospect as that is, it's a testament to just how madly (and justifiably) popular the Top Gear formula is.
For explosions, shockingly extreme challenges, truly irreverent wit and celebrities making an utter fool of themselves in a car they wouldn't normally get in even if it was full of lifetime membership cards to The Ivy, there's only one show to watch. Clue: it's not Fifth Gear.
The case for Fifth Gear
By Dave Woodlock
Sure, without Top Gear there'd be no Fifth Gear but that doesn't mean it's better. Without popular Australian soap opera Neighbours we'd have seen a lot less of Kylie Minogue's lovely bottom but that doesn't mean tuning into Ramsey St is better than watching the 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head video' on a loop now does it?
Top Gear's all well and good if you want to see a bunch of over-grown teenagers blowing up caravans, swerving around mountain roads and occasionally causing an international incident by way of a throwaway gag, but if you want a proper show which is actually about cars, and which doesn't waste most of its budget on explosions and fancy foreign jollies, you'll want to stick with Fifth Gear. Tiff's a far better driver than the denim-cladded one, Quentin's got more class in his raised eyebrow than Captain Slow can dream of, and Vicki looks a lot less like a Hamster than Richard Hammond. Watching Fifth Gear is like tucking into a balanced and nutritious meal – you come away feeling satisfied and like you've done something useful with your time. Whereas Top Gear is basically a heap of salty junkfood which you wolf down in a rush, feeling it's the best thing ever, then end feeling a bit dizzy, stunned and empty again an hour later. And as for Top Gear being popular the world over: so is Justin Bieber. That doesn't make him good, does it? Top Gear's had its day, we're going into Fifth.
Who's right? Which is the greater Gear? Or are they both right with Top and Fifth tied in Pole Position in some kind of sappy hands-across-the-water, everyone-is-equal, what-have-we-done-to-the-world kinda way?