Top Gear’s Polar Special was the first episode of the show to be released in Blu-Ray format, and it forms part of a series in the show’s Great Adventures series that has seen Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May travel to the far and bizarre ends of the earth to spice up the world’s most-watched motoring TV programme.
The Polar Special sees Clarkson and May attempt to become the first people to drive to the North Pole, while Hammond will race them on a dog sled.
Sounds rather lop-sided, doesn’t it?
Add to this the knowledge that this episode was among the first filmed by Hammond after his almost life-ending jet-car crash – a section covered in great detail in his book As You Do (reviewed on Richard’s F1 here) – and his task seems all the more impossible.
This foolhardy but particularly entertaining quest may lack some of the nobility of the man-braving-the-elements theme of a Scott or Amundsen expedition, but that was probably never its intention in the first place.
Clarkson and May are armed with the most souped-up no-terrain-can’t-be-conquered Toyota Hilux you could imagine, the cabin-bound pair set out to show that Arctic expeditions needn’t be too tough as they imbibe in plenty of booze, mature cheese and foie gras along the way.
Meanwhile, poor Hammond is well and truly exposed to the elements, and you feel for him in each of those 650km of snow and ice-capped terrain he ventures across.
The threat of global warming – and the car industry’s contribution to it – is a concern when you consider the thin ice the heavy Hilux is trying to cross, but this isn’t an environmentally-focused show and it doesn’t pretend to be.
It’s certainly not the kind of message that is very politically correct given the current concerns over carbon emissions and the like, but this is nonetheless great fun to watch, beautifully shot and thrilling all the way through.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Top Gear’s Polar Special…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5.
Top Gear: The Great Adventures – Polar Special is available for purchase at major stores.