Monday, 18 July 2011
Top Gear and the National Railway Museum
Many might have wondered how I could link the two agencies in my header! Equally as many will realise this happened on the 17th July 2011 as http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012qrz1 will show. That link is to i-player and it will not be live for ever I guess. This is episode 4 of series 17. In the railway enthusiast media this had been trailed and I knew that the Great Central Railway had been visited by a film crew. The result is certainly entertaining and funny. One wonders how many dispensations from the rulebook and Health and Safety had had to be requested in order to undertake these rip roaring antics? The surprise came when the passengers arrived (not overmany of them). They were "top officials and inspectors from the railway world". Fronting the guest list were the museum's Colonel Steve Davies and Helen Ashby who were introduced by name before the cameras although at no stage was any mention of the National Railway Museum made so I guess this was something undertaken in their own time?
A piece of priceless entertainment which I recommend you to watch. The connection with the header photo? The storyline was rather to the effect that the Top Gear team had made this sensational discovery that you can put cars on rails. And then they discovered some of the shortcomings like adhesion. I hope that privately our friends from the museum were able to point out that there is a considerable history of road vehicles on rails (and even of model vehicles of the same like Brawa VW vans). Doubtless the history might have spoiled the plot but I can remind readers of this with a picture from 1985 of myself at Abreschviller in the Vosges with just such an inspection car. An antique if there ever was one.
This is not the first time Top Gear has gone loco. The Race to the North was arguably much more substantial. James May has also determinedly endorsed model railways with his double attempt to run OO trains from Barnstaple to Bideford and a model railway appearing in his lad's workshop.
Added 4th August, Railway Magazine's editorial in their September issue revealed that the editor Nick Pigott had been another one of the passengers and complained rather clearly about the lack of credits.