The mystery of exactly what Jeremy Clarkson and James May were doing tooling around the West End on bikes recently looks set to be revealed on Sunday when Chris Boardman will be on a panel that assesses the “public information film” the pair were filming.
The Top Gear presenters were spotted on bikes earlier this month, Jeremy Clarkson on an upright hybrid bike that appeared to be rather too small for him, and James May aboard a Brompton. The pair appeared to be filming their faces with GoPro cameras attached to the handlebars.
According to the Radio Times, they were making a ‘public information film’ to promote safer cycling. The feature will be shown in the fifth episode of the current series, which goes to air at 8pm this Sunday on BBC Two (10pm in Wales).
The film will be presented to a panel of experts including British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman and members of Westminster Council, one of the London boroughs most notoriously negative about cycling provision.
Chris Boardman couldn’t tell us much about the segment as he hasn’t seen the final edit.
“Anything to do with Top Gear is playing with fire, which is why people watch it,” he said. “On the flip side, it’s also a chance to reach a wider (motoring) audience and portray ourselves as ‘one of you’ rather than cycling fanatics. Just normal people with a sense of humour, who’d like to see more cycling.
“I’m not in control of the edit but knowing a bit about making telly, I could see how they could cut it to look several different ways!
“We’ll see on Sunday if the gamble has paid off.”
The theme of the segment explains why Mr Clarkson and Mr May had gone to some lengths to equip themselves with safety gear, including matching helmets, hi-viz jackets and gloves, and sunglasses despite the gloomy day.
It seemed Mr Clarkson’s jacket was so new he hadn’t removed the tags, leading to speculation he was planning to return them after filming.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.