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Top Gear beats BB Finale as Richard Hammond returns

Written by TVSA Team from the blog News on 30 Jan 2007
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Motoring show Top Gear returned to the BBC on Sunday night with presenter Richard Hammond - fully recovered after his horror high-speed crash last year.

Hammond received a hero's welcome when he returned to the show, in more ways than one: the first episode of Top Gear was watched by more viewers than the Celebrity Big Brother finale, which was won by B-List Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.

Top Gear was watched by 8.6-million viewers, as opposed to BB's 7.3-million.

Aside from the curiosity factor of seeing a bloke who's crashed in a car doing nigh on 500km/h, viewers also tuned in to watch the spectacular footage of Hammond's crash, which was aired for the first time in all its glory.

(A recording of the crash was uploaded to YouTube hours after the episode aired, only to be removed at the request of the BBC).

The average viewership for the last season of Top Gear was 5.3-million viewers, so clearly Hammond's crash didn't exactly hurt the show.

Not did it hurt Hammond, it seems - he was reportedly his usual bubbly self. When asked why he attempted the final run in the car having already achieved a speed of 505km/h, Hammond replied:

"I suppose it's like when you were playing outside as a kid and then your mum called you in for dinner. You'd always stay out for a bit longer..."

"...and that's when you'd fall out the tree," continued co-host Jeremy Clarkson.

"As it happens, yes," replied Hammond.

Hammond took great pains to assure one and all he was perfectly fine, and not suffering any side-effects. Bar one, that is.

"The only difference between me now, and before the crash, is I like celery now," quipped Hammond. "I am fixed. I am completely fixed and normal."

Hammond defended the show's decision to air the crash footage, writing a rebuttal on his Top Gear blog:

"We can't pretend it didn't happen - that we can hoon about all over Europe in supercars and punt jet-propelled dragsters up runways at 300mph without things going wrong," he wrote.

"That's how it is in the world; things go wrong. And if I've learned one thing, it's that they can go wrong at the worst possible moment."

Top Gear airs in South Africa on BBC Prime. TVSA will keep you posted as to when the crash episode is coming up.

Update: We found a copy of the video on the BBC2 website - you can go here to view it.

Actors in this post: Richard Hammond

Shows in this post: Top Gear

Channels in this post: BBC Prime, BBC Two



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