back to article Top Gear tops iPlayer hit list

The Beeb's Top Gear was the most watched show on the corporation's iPlayer during 2009, with the first episodes of series 13 and 14 clocking up 1.7m and 1.3m hits, respectively. According to the BBC, the year's total "requests for content" was 729.2m, with November marking "a record 88.2m requests for BBC TV and radio …


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  1. moylan

    no numbers for bit torrent?

    at work the first show downloaded every week is top gear. none of us watch it when it is shown on bbc2. we just download it later. handier that way as on more than one occasion a few episodes have been stuck on an ipod/netbook for somebody going on holiday. considering it's an entertainment show aimed at technical people you would have to assume that a lot of people are downloading it rather than watch chained to a bbc schedule or desktop pc.

    1. Paul 4

      Odd that...

      The BBC not detailing figers for illigal downloads. Don't you have a job to do?

    2. Andrew James

      Last time i looked...

      It was still an entertainment show aimed at motoring enthusiasts.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Never heard of a PVR?

      I hear that there are several decent models available.

      Then you aren't limited to the 7-day retention of the iPlayer.

      Time for a pint while my PVR of ESB records all the progs I want over the holidays.

  2. chr0m4t1c

    Eastenders is a drama?

    Has "soap" been lost as a classification?

    Mind you, I thought it was a brave attempt by some art-school students to create a non-interactive live actor homage to The Sims, so what do I know?

    Has there been a Christmas episode with a death, marraige, divorce and gymslip mum at the same time yet? I've heard that will be one of the omens of the apocalypse.

  3. peterm3
    IT Angle

    fast forward gear

    Most people probably want to be able to skip the JC bits...

  4. DominicT
    Thumb Down


    Top Gear certainly used to be something vaguely useful about cars. Now it is a platform for the idiot Clarkson and a braindead audience who howl with the glee of a five year old when things blow up or are catapulted off cliffs. The actual useful content to anyone who actually wants to find out about cars is close to zero.

    If I want to waste an hour of my life on the deluded gibberings of a right-wing flat-Earther like Clarkson I'd just read some nonsense by Andrew Orlowski on The Register.

    1. Oli 1

      You need 5th Gear...

      Top Gear is ENTERTAINMENT TV, not informative reporting on cars and the industry. It has been that way since the format changed ooh 14 series ago?

      Go watch 5th gear with Quentin "I'll bore you into pulling your own teeth out" Wilson

      On the iPlayer, its great althought more mobile support and being able to keep content (ive already paid to make it so its mine) would be further improvements :)

    2. Rosco


      Oooh, you made me laugh

    3. Neil Stansbury
      Thumb Up

      Yeah quite

      That's why people like you Dominic should be watching 5th Gear on 5 - that's the show for sado wannabe geeks with no sense of humour who dont ever seem to understand that TOP GEAR IS AN ENTERTAINMENT SHOW - Sheesh

    4. Lotaresco


      MMmm yes DominicT, I agree that it's terribly sad that some lamers feelt he need to rant on about Clarkson as if by doing so it elevated the whiner in the sight of All Right Thinking People[1]. Is there some eco-weenie Brownie point system whereby whining about Clarkson is the equivalent of chanting off a few Hail Marys after confession?

      [1] i.e. Everyone who agrees with the whiner.

    5. Mike Flugennock

      Hey, man, c'mon...

      I'm at least forty-eight years past the age of five, and I _still_ love watching stuff explode or hurtle over a cliff -- especially if Jeremy Clarkson's aboard.

  5. Richard 102

    Top Gear is a cult hit here in the US

    I live in a city, Indianapolis, where people really love cars. (You might have heard of some race we've had for nigh on 100 years over Memorial Day weekend.) It's not uncommon to observe stay-at-home moms in the rich burbs who are meeting for lunch and discussing the merits of a BMW vs a Mercedes, or talking about how different cars handle in wintry conditions. And here, Top Gear is a big hit, even among people you'd think were NOT their target audience.

    Part of it that people like cars, but also that Clarkson, Hammond, and May aren't afraid of mocking themselves and each other. Yes, they are goofs, but we can see ourselves in (at least one of their) goofiness. Long may they broadcast.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's that noise?

    Lord Reith spinning @ 1000 rpm in his grave.

    A show by fuckwits for fuckwits.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well duh

    Top Gear may be going down the shitter but it's one of maybe 2 vaguely decent shows the BBC puts out these days. No real surprise it's top of the iplayers ratings.

    People aren't exactly going to clamber to watch the 16th repeat of some schedule filler dross nobody enjoyed watching the first time, which is after all, 98% of what iplayer is.

  8. pctechxp

    Not surprising

    As apart from Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week and maybe Merlin its the only decent thing the Beeb puts out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Apart from Mock the week, top gear, HIGNFY, Merlin, Radio4, their web site, their news service, The BBC micro, what have the Romans, sorry, BBC, ever done for us.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        what has the BBC done for us...?

        Monty Python? Fawlty Towers?

        OK, that was thirty-five, forty years ago, but, still...

        Actually, I was also going to say Top Of The Pops, but I suppose that largely depends on the quality of popular music which, last I heard, was pretty much circling the drain.

        Can't say about the BBC Micro, though, as I've never used one.

  9. Andrew James

    Top Gear was scrapped

    Top Gear as a useful show containing reviews of new cars was scrapped years ago. Vicki Butler Henderson and Tiff Needel were then approached by Channel 5 and set up Fifth Gear as an almost carbon copy of what Top Gear had always been.

    Top Gear then re-emerged in its current format. As an entertainment show based on motoring. Its about supercars and crazy races... entertaining stuff.

    Occasionally they thrown in a faux real road test, such as the other week with the sporty Twingo, as a way to mock the people who complain that it used to be a more interesting show in the olden days.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Licence Fee

    I'm surprised there's not more comments here moaning about the unique way the BBC is funded.

    Well, I'm not gonna start. They may be leftie bias all over the place, but they done good with the iplayer - if we have to have (which I think we should) a licence fee then they're making sure that they are the high standard for others to aim for.

    Now they should just make the BBC bosses democratically elected then sack jonathan ross (I like him, just not at that price) and use the money to bring broadband to the lesser populated parts of the nation (can't they just use their transmitters they have already & do it wifi?!)

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Jeez, I just love it...

      ...when I hear right-wingers piss and moan about tv shows/personalities showing "leftie bias" when they're one of the few shows that isn't giving a knob shine to the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

  11. Bruce Ordway

    What happened to Shameless?

    Top gear is fun, but I'd take Shameless over it any day. BBC America only offers a limited schedule though & as far as I know, no downloads.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      'What happened to Shameless'

      It's not a BBC show? Might explain why it's not on iPlayer.

      Although you're right, I'd watch that before Top Gear.

      Pint, down the Jockey?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shameless is not BBC..

      its Channel 4, and there are downloads available!

    3. steogede

      Re: What happened to Shameless

      Shameless isn't produced or broadcast by BBC, it is a Channel 4 show. The UK does have more than one broadcaster.

      There is a good reason for Top Gear being number one on the downloads - it is quite a popular show with a loyal following, however, it is a widely hated program. How many wives will sit down and watch it with their "blokes" without complaint - hence it is popular on iPlayer. Similarly it isn't popular on Virgin or PS3 iPlayer, because these devices are usually connected to the main telly.

  12. Chris Paulson
    Thumb Up

    As some who really like cars

    ie I've done motorsport for 10 years. Done rallying for 6 years. Been to Sweden ice driving twice etc etc.

    I think Top Gear is brill and stupid. Serious car shows are seriously boooring.

    Top gear is the only show left on TV not full of light footed communist.

  13. Charles King

    Much better than it was

    I once watched one of the episodes from the first season, back when it was a 'real' car show and had that sad fat bloke talking about bargains on the 2nd-hand market. God it was tedious, and improved tremendously when they dumped him and got in James May.

    BTW, I thought El Reg was aimed at a techie audience. Why would anyone with a bit of know-how waste their time with bittorrent?

  14. Defiant


    Mac users prefer comedy over drama, well they'd have to being Maz users lol

    1. jai
      Jobs Halo

      re: LAMO...

      yes, that's because we have a sense of humour and enough intelligence to understand a joke. whereas by contrast, you see a joke and use it as your OS

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Jobs Horns

        You need a sense of humour to use a Mac?

        I think you've missed the joke but don't worry, Your Lord Jobs gets it and is laughing all the way to the bank with your money, every time you upgrade (about once every 15 minutes isn't it?)

        Oooohhh shiny, it's got a brushed aluminium piece on it now.

      2. Barry Lane 1
        Jobs Halo

        re LAMO

        Brilliant reply. Thank you for making my day.

  15. Defiant
    Thumb Down

    The BBC can rewrite history too!

    "Posted Thursday 24th December 2009 15:30 GMT

    As apart from Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week and maybe Merlin its the only decent thing the Beeb puts out"

    A very politically correct Merlin too. I never even knew Africa was discovered the 6th century but according to them it was. You see the BBC can even rewrite history never mind legends

    1. Steen Hive
      Thumb Up


      Too true. Africans discovered the rest of the World about a million years ago or so. Tricky thing, that history.

    2. Michael Chester

      Africa was discovered well before then

      Most of what was north of the sahara was part of the Roman empire, so there definitely would have been trade well before 6th C. Plus the existence of Africa would have become rather obvious by the 8th century when the Moors (from modern day Morocco) took over Spain.

      Personally, I was shocked and appalled by the use of the very historically inaccurate dragons, which is obviously just pandering to allegations of anti-draconic bias in BBC programming.

  16. Steven Snape

    PS3 users prefer comedy shows like Mock The Week...

    ...I would never had expected that. I would have thought Last Of The Summer Wine was more of a PS3 users type of program.

  17. uninventiveheart
    Thumb Up

    Wish they'd stream in United States... :(

    I remember when they tried it on Discovery back in 2004... I fell in love with the show immediately, but after being shuffled around they stopped re-broadcast. Then I heard they wanted to breed a spin off for the states involving of all people, Adam Corolla. Thankfully it never came to fruition, with the executives saying something to the effect that we "just don't get the format". It's good that we didn't: the three presenters have a chemistry to them we couldn't possibly hope to emulate with our "talking head" mentality (re: Ryan Seacrest and Nick LaChey.)

    I love the show's 40% "Motorweek", 40% "Jackass", 10% talk-show approach. There are decent reviews of high powered cars I couldn't possibly hope to attain, and a few of the challenges they get actually involve relevant performance considerations, so it does have good information. (But the "Water Test" of British Leyland still remains a personal favorite... and utterly useless for real-life application.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Me fail maths? That's unpossible

      Umm, you only got 90% of the show?

    2. Lotaresco
      Big Brother

      Re: Wish they'd stream in United States... :(

      I'm sure that if everyone in America paid their BBC Licence fee that the BBC would be only too pleased to stream TV to the USA.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
    Thumb Up


    Whilst I have several major issues with the BBC, the way that it is funded, it's use of those funds, it's overuse and baffling use of political correctness and why it feels it needs to "compete" when in essence it is simply a state funded broadcaster - I do feel hats are due off to the Top Gear production team.

    Love him or hate him (and few of you can say you know the man well enough to make a proper judgement) JC has always been original, and from what I know - fairly principled. He knows what he does best, has stuck to it and has consistently reaped the rewards.

    As far as May and Hammond are concerned - they are but support to JCs talent, and they probabaly know that. My view is that both RH and JM are off of any artistic roll call as they both seem to have puckered up their assholes and been fu**ed by the ££££'s of the corporates.

    I'll stop now...

  19. Andrew Newstead

    Clarkson a flatearther?

    In case you don't know Jezzer is a mad keen astronomy and space nut. He is also known to enjoy birdspotting but they won't admit to that.

  20. Ricky H

    please Top Gear...

    drum up support for lower fuel prices and/or REAL alternatives to the internal combustion engine. they have the market share and tons of people listen to Clarkson.

  21. John Tserkezis
    Thumb Down

    @Much better than it was

    > Why would anyone with a bit of know-how waste their time with bittorrent?

    Because I live in Australia, where we get things sometimes up to a decade after release in its native country - or -

    To appease the masses, we used to get "Direct streamed" selected episodes a week and a half after release in its native country (though still better than the typical two years), and then not see following episodes for the next six months (or sometimes ever again) because OUR seasons don't line up with THEIR seasons, or the local marketing people don't think that it'll "sell" here.

    Many get fed up, give up, and their ONLY option is to get it via bittorent or such.

    Or, if you want to toss that in for real Australian local content, then you have the choice between drama, drama, drama, and just in case we were not already spoiled for choice, more F%$#ing drama. The only alternatives are localised versions of games shows.

    Still wondering why many bother with bittorrent? That's why. So there.

  22. The Mighty Spang

    @"Top Gear is a cult hit here in the US"

    im not surprised, its redneck tv.

    clarkson is like a fox news right wing shock jock.

    all that blowing things up and launching them off cliffs etc - imagine that with with rednecks screaming in the background. Its just like monster truck rallys in a british accent.

  23. Ceiling Cat

    What ever happened . . .

    To "Neighbours" . . . ?

    I swear this was one of the top 3 shows when I lived in Scotland.

    Mind you, that was over 20 years ago (which is also about how long it's been since I watched Cable TV).

  24. Ivan Headache

    And remember

    Top Gear won a major TV award in the US a couple of years back for "the best unscripted factual show" (or something like that) and it tickled JC when he was asked why he didn't go to collect the award. A. He didn't know it was up for an award and B. He was too busy writing the script for the next edition.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    Why are the Americans and Australians complaining because they can’t get direct streaming to their snake and bug ridden territories.

    Had you not pushed for independence you would now be able to stream direct from Her Majesty’s British Broadcasting Company.

    As it is, you don’t pay license fees so shut up!

    So download it by nefarious underhanded Johnny foreigner ways, and hope we don’t send the gun boats knocking...

    Or, you could petition your local TV providers who purchase the show for broadcasting in your Territories about streaming rights. Why should we clog up our telecom pipes with your streams?

    ....Where is the Jezzer Icon?

    and, dont get me started on merlin!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Now if only

      the BBC iplayer was available from Australia....

      Anyone know the IP address of a good open proxy in the UK that doesn't pass on the remote client address?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Old Top Gear (and Fifth Gear) are kind of pointless

    I always thought that old Top Gear (and Fifth Gear), whilst fun, were a bit pointless. They gave you in-depth reviews of a handful of cars, which invariably didn't include the one you were going to buy. And most of us only buy a car every few years, so we would watch the show week after week and probably never walk into a showroom to buy any featured car. Clarkson realised that people liked his irreverant style, and liked watching reviews of cars they would never own. Hence the reborn version. We see reviews of cars that we can never own, and watch 3 lads being irreverent...


  27. Anonymous Coward

    In my day....

    tv programs used to usefull and inform people... car programs were about the average cars reliability, performance, quality, etc... useful information to use when choosing a car to buy...

    When I was a lad...

    It's not what i used to be...

    This country is going down the toilet...

    Youth today...

    etc... etc... etc...

    Yes that's right, YOU ARE PAST IT, too old to understand modern culture and entertainment... yeah yeah I don't want to hear about your heroic punch card programming days, or when computers were real computers using valves..... go to your retirement flat and shut up... you moaning old gits!

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