Production has started on the Nine Network’s first series of Top Gear Australia, presented by a lineup of car buffs who will fuel the viewers’ love of Top Gear’s super-cars, extreme stunts, car reviews and celebrity interviews.
Shane Jacobson, Ewen Page and Steven Pizzati will front the adrenaline-fuelled Aussie version of the hit program that starts production today in a secret location. The boys bring a wealth of local knowledge and experience to the BBC Top Gear phenomenon, which is seen by more than 150 million households around the world.
Top Gear Australia will be rammed with fast-paced action entertainment combined with its legendary wit, good humour and mucking about. Showcasing the hosts’ genuine passion for cars in outstanding local and overseas challenges, it’s an offbeat celebration of motoring, mateship and the Australian way of life.
Shane Jacobson is best known for his popular television and film roles, but there is another side to him that fans may not be aware of. He has a passion for cars, motorbikes and amateur-level racing, and a licence for just about everything: cars, buses, motorbikes, semi-trailers, forklifts, scissor lifts and boom lifts, as well as jet skis and boats.
He also has a car collection that includes a HJ Kingswood, a HQ ute and an EH Holden. So does this make him a true-blue Holden man?
“No, I like both Holdens and Fords, and time will prove this once my collection is complete,” Shane said. “Truth be told, I like many different types of cars, so now that I’m getting the chance to drive plenty of fast cars on other people’s insurance, let me just say I’m as happy as Elvis in a room full of burgers.
“But the people who pay the insurance aren’t quite as excited. I think they feel like Guy Fawkes has just been given the keys to an explosives factory – and they’re right.”
Ewen Page is the editor-in-chief of Top Gear Australia magazine and the topgear.com website. In a media career spanning 28 years he has edited a variety of Australian car magazines, from Street Machine to Wheels, Motor and Auto Action. He has a passion for all things with wheels. Ewen has also been the sports editor of The Canberra Times, editor of FHM, and was the founding deputy editor of Zoo Weekly.
“With Shane’s comic talents and Steve’s driving prowess, I’m aiming to bring a more urbane, intellectual feel to the show. I will be testing Saabs exclusively, wearing black turtleneck sweaters and featuring in extended stories on the car and its role in modern society. Or doing burnouts in a Falcon ute” he said.
Steve Pizzati is an advanced driving instructor, racing driver, freelance motoring journalist and stunt driver. In 1985 he fell in love with fast cars and fast machines after watching Ayrton Senna compete in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. His first car was a “very cool” 1971 Mk2 Cortina GT. Basically, if it’s got wheels and it’s fast, he’s either driven it, raced it, jumped it, or set fire to it.
Asked to describe himself, Steve said: “Eat + sleep + incessant travel + seriously cool driving = my life, but I am currently trying to remove the first three parts of the equation. I’m thrilled to be on the show doing a job that even the Apollo astronauts would be envious of.”
And then there’s The Stig. Some say he was illegal in Tasmania until 1997, and that Kylie Minogue has his phone number tattooed on her bum. All we know is he’s called The Stig.
“We look forward to welcoming the Top Gear Australia crew to the network. Shane, Ewen and Steve as hosts will provide the passion, humour and skill to bring a real Australian feel to the Top Gear phenomenon,” Michael Healy, Nine’s Director of Programming, said.
Executive Producer, Paul Rudd of Freehand, said: “Ewen, Shane and Steve are the perfect choice for Top Gear Australia and I’m positive they’re going to do a brilliant job. If they don’t, we’ll get The Stig to host all the stories and become the first show that can only be heard by cats.”
Adam Waddell, Top Gear’s Managing Director, added “”We are delighted to be working with Freehand and Nine on this new incarnation of one of BBC Worldwide’s most successful properties. This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to new Top Gear audiences and give existing fans something more to celebrate.”