Fans of British car shows take heart. Nope, we're not talking about Top Gear, but it's cross-town rival Fifth Gear. The Channel 5 car show that picked up after the original Top Gear was canceled was itself the victim of cutbacks recently. In the face of reduced viewership (compared to the five million who watch Top Gear regularly) and reduced ad revenue from belt-tightening automakers, network executives canceled the show back in October. By December, however, sources indicated that there was still a heartbeat and a glimmer of hope.

Now reports suggest that, following an outpouring of support, the network has agreed to keep Fifth Gear alive, albeit with some changes. The new Fifth Gear will apparently leave the studio permanently to focus directly on the test drives in a bid to lure hard-core enthusiasts disgruntled with Top Gear's decided emphasis on shenanigans. Two of the six presenters – Tom Ford and Tim Shaw – have also been dropped, leaving Vicki Butler-Henderson, Jonny Smith, Tiff Needell and Jason Plato to present the show.

With the revised format, Fifth Gear has reportedly been approved for two more seasons, with the first starting only a month away in late April, beating Top Gear's late-summer return to the punch. Apparently the Discovery network has been contracted to broadcast the show in other European markets outside the UK, so here's hoping we'll get the shows Stateside as well.

[Source: The Times of London via rpmgo.com]