For the past two days BBC Two has been behind the scenes of the Mini Plant in Oxford to show how cars are built. It has to be said you felt the show could have been done better.
Guiding us through the plant were James May, who in my opinion is the… I want to say “best” but I keep end up going to “least worst” of the famous Top Gear trio; Kate Humble, who is more famous for doing wildlife programmes but does have the most experience of live TV, and Ant Anstead, who I am personally not that familiar with, but is seemingly most famous for shows such as For the Love of Cars.
The programme led us through the entire process of building the car, from the starting “body-in-white” stage where the main panels are fitted (and it isn’t in white), to painting the car, to the main assembly, and ultimately shipping the cars out around the world. The process means a new car is made every 68 seconds; over 1,000 a day, across 24 types of body.
While it is interesting learn about how the main principles of building the car, and some of the philosophy of the industry such as “Just in time”, where in order to avoid waste everything is done right to the deadline, the show seemed to drag. The main feature of the programme was meant to follow one particular car from start-to-finish, but you hardly saw it. Much of the time was spent going between each of the presenters who were talking to different workers at the plant in all different sections, dispersed with pre-filmed clips across various different car manufactures, in Britain and abroad.
The main reason however why it felt like it dragged was that both episodes were 90 minutes long. It might have worked better if they made three 60 minute long episodes, perhaps filming one particular car along the whole way for the first two episodes, and then displaying the entire journey edited down in some form in a final third episode.
Also, what with it being live TV there were times when there issue with microphones not quite working. The highlights seemed to come from May mucking up things like screwing parts of the car together. Seems Captain Slow can even slow down car production.