Top Ground Gear Force is a one off TV special, featuring the cast of BBC's Top Gear, which originally aired on BBC Two at 22:00GMT on March 14, 2008 as part of Sport Relief 2008. It was repeated on Easter Monday, 2008. It's name is based on Ground Force, a popular gardening show.
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 makeover 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.
Top Ground Gear Force was then included as a page in the 2009 'Big Book of Top Gear', giving advice to garden problems including concreting the garden over, petrol bombs and flash fires.
Like Top Gear of the Pops, the title screen and music is changed to suit the programme. Instead of having cars in the background, images of gardening were shown instead. The images 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.
The Top Gear ending credits are also adapted to suit the programme's resemblance to Ground Force - the presenters' names were listed as Alan Clarkson, Handy Hammond and Charlie May (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". This 'mocking' was also used in special editions such as the Top Gear Polar Special, in which the presenters' first names were changed to 'Sir Ranulph', as a reference to Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The title "Top Gear Ground Force' appears during the opening credits and is spoken by the hosts throughout the show. However, the insulated jackets worn by the three hosts are silkscreened with "TGGGR" on the front chest and "Top Garden Ground Gear Force" on the rear. Other equipment, such as a flatbed truck, is labeled with the factual title, "Top Gear Ground Force". This minor detail is not explained throughout the show and may be a simple mistake or an intentional joke.
The Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond decided, 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 was a team of Poles, and on hand to provide advice on Sir Steve's tastes was Ann Redgrave (who was erroneously addressed and referred to as "Lady Ann").
As the team's only 'country bumpkin', Hammond was the team leader. However, his garden plan failed to impress Clarkson and May, who wanted 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 used 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 toppled over in the trench, so he returned 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 completed the shed, but Clarkson accidentally shot a hole in it, breaking a window.
Hammond's tree seat is completed, however it's completed outside the tree trunk. He brought in a 14 ton crane to hook the seat so he could slip it over the tree. The crane was too heavy and sunk into the lawn and left huge holes in it. However the crane was long enough to hook onto the seat. Because of Richard's inexperience with cranes, he accidentally swerved the seat sideways, destroying both the shed and the seat.
Clarkson decided to remove a rockery by using a homemade bomb. During the explosion one wall of the shed James had rebuilt, after it was destroyed by Hammond, was smashed by the blast. After this happens May stepped out of the shed with a plank of wood, and asked what time the programme will air. After being informed it was going to air after the watershed, he exclaimed 'you're a fu-'. At this point, the episode cut to the next scene.
Jeremy ordered some cement to pave over the garden, but he ordered too little, and only a small portion of the garden is covered. Hammond gets stuck in the cement, and Jeremy had to lift him out. James' shed was rebuilt for the third time while Jeremy erected some rugby posts (despite being told that none of Sir Stephen Redgrave's family plays rugby). However, he and the Poles accidentally dropped the posts on James' shed, squashing the roof and part of the walls. This led to James angrily telling Clarkson to apologise while pointing a two-by-four at him. Hammond revealed his barbecue system, which uses a jet engine to rotate the meat and cook it. However, the blades rotated too fast and flung the chicken off the rotisserie 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 was upset at the destruction of his garden, so the Poles ran away. Eventually, after Jeremy talking to him privately, his mood lightened. Jeremy then showed off his turbo-charged water feature, which blew the top off itself due to the water pressure and crashed 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).
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).
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