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.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.