When mankind finally steps upon Martian terra firma and humanity for the briefest moment stands shoulder to shoulder with God, it will be a multinational team of brilliant, exhausted scientist-astronauts who plant the flag. That, or James May in a Morris Minor.
Yes, Top Gear is back this weekend. And with it, a whole new series of outlandishly daft and expensive challenges. Iâm backing May to be sitting in a Martian cafÃ©, hiding behind a newspaper, while a disappointed crew of astronauts, and Richard Hammond trudge dejectedly towards him. Then itâs back to the studio for Jeremy Clarkson to stick the Space Shuttle on the uncool part of the Cool Wall, and a lap in a reasonably priced car with Craig David.
The silver lining for the inconsolable career astronauts will be that both May and Hammondâs increasingly absurd haircuts will be hidden behind space helmets. The real ketchup in the custard, though, will be the fact that the stunt wouldnât even have made it into the programmeâs top five best ever:
The best example of random-word-TV-feature-generator technology since Sky 1 commissioned Kimberly Walsh: Blue Jean Girl. If you donât know what youâre going to get from the title then you canât read. Still worth watching the clip though, because itâs of a nun in a monstertruck.
Chillingly prescient as Richard Hammond says this car sinking experiment left him technically dead. A few series later, Hammond technically died as he was left in a coma following a high speed crash during a Top Gear drag race. For a show which often seems to pride itself on imparting very little useful information, thereâs a touch of the public information video about this one: If you drive into a lake, get out quick.
The worldâs fastest road car versus the worldâs most modern high-tech strike fighter plane. This one has cleared up more domestic arguments than the purchase of an in-car sat nav. Which one to buy? The Bugatti would have the kind of baying morons who turn up to cheer in the live Top Gear studio dribbling into their real ale. But then, the Euro Fighter is a plane. Can either of them safely fit two small children in the back and an easy-fold three-wheel pram in the boot? Nope. Letâs just go with the Ford Focus then shall we, and watch the clip instead
A cliff, six used cars, a giant dart board, a nitrogen-compressed James Bond car-shooting cannon, and a caravan. Car Darts from series four represented Top Gear daft stunts at their daftest best. Just one of a series of stunts which highlighted the programmeâs beef with caravans. And the stuff of a Car Giant salesmanâs nightmares.
The reason why people who care nothing for cars still love this programme. Writing, âcountry and western is rubbishâ? and âman love rules okâ? on the side of a car then driving it through one of the most intolerant, country music-loving parts of America has nothing to do with appealing to the kind of person who can sit the whole way through a Formula 1 qualifying session. Itâs funny and crazy. And came as close as a Richard Hammond drag race crash to getting the whole crew lynched.