PR pitstop for 'Top Gear' petrolheads

By David Eames

Attending a Top Gear Live media event is a little like driving a Suzuki Swift: zippy and perhaps even entertaining, but you wouldn't want your friends to see you in it.

The show - a stage version of the British television phenomenon - is in Auckland until Sunday, at the tailend of a world tour that will play to more than 400,000 people in Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The initial press briefing - as streamlined as the Ferrari sportscars dotted around the ASB Showgrounds venue - was notable chiefly for the absence of co-presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.

The pair's hectic schedule meant they were not needed in rehearsal, but would be making themselves available for photo ops a little later on, production organiser Richard Bews said. Luckily, the show's formidable PR machine had already provided a pre-written "conversation with the lads".

The handout confirmed Clarkson loves New Zealand despite getting a bee sting on Waiheke Island, while Hammond feels like a rock star when on tour.

Both men, however, expressed a desire to be performing intimate medical examinations of actress Angelina Jolie as an alternative to fronting the show.

Reporters were also treated to a brief sampling of the show's offerings - including an extended sequence in which six of the aforementioned Suzuki Swifts perform a number of high-speed manoeuvres.

That was followed by a 3-D sequence

better seen live than described.

Then, in a squeal of tyres, presenters Clarkson, Hammond and local co-presenter Greg Murphy pulled up, and from a safe distance proceeded to strike poses for a phalanx of photographers.

The television show's enigmatic racing driver "The Stig" also features in the live show, and yesterday gave a press conference.

Fans familiar with the The Stig's schtick - maintaining complete silence at all times - will know how that went.

- NZ Herald

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