Top Gear walks a very narrow line between documentary, sitcom and reality television. And while some aspects of it are true, it shouldn't be a huge shock that there are plenty of staged elements. Still, there seem to be elements of the British public that think everything shown on the telly is true, which makes the latest controversy over Top Gear's fakery seem rather silly to us.
The anger stems from the July 21 episode, which actually airs tonight on BBC America (spoiler alert from here out), where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May attempt to convert a Ford Transit into a hovercraft. The resulting hovervan can work on the road, and can kind of work on the water, as demonstrated during an extended cruise on the River Avon.
This is where people are getting angry. In one scene, the trio pass a riverside restaurant and decided to stop in for a bite. Patrons sitting on the water's edge are then mercilessly blown and splashed by the jet wash of the hovervan's fans. Here's the controversy – those "patrons" were apparently staged actors. Yes, Top Gear is in trouble with the British public because they used actors for a segment rather than ruining the days of unsuspecting people.
Video and images were released on Twitter by one of the actors, according to Britain's The Mirror. A BBC spokesperson's response to this latest uproar is pretty much what we were thinking as we watched the episode last weekend: "I think Top Gear viewers are intelligent enough not to have been taken in." Clearly not all of them. Check out video of the stunt below.