New Car Show Top Gear Rip-Off?

What do you call a Lada at the top of a hill? A miracle.

That’s typical of the gags you can expect to hear in a new James May series that’s been dubbed a “Top Gear rip-off”.

Prime has scheduled the three-part James May’s Cars of the People, which aired two years in the UK, 7.30 Saturdays from June 11.

In the premiere, May travels to Germany, Italy and Russia to reveal how dictators kick-started the mobilisation of the masses.

According to the publicity, “It’s a tale of design brilliance, abject failure, war, fraud and double dealing featuring some of the best (and worst) cars and characters of the 20th century.

“James discovers how the British motor industry blew a gift wrapped chance to rule the world and he gets his own back with a stunt that means bad news for one of the planet’s most hated cars.”

“You’d think poor old James would learn his lesson and steer clear,” the Daily Mail said in its review. “But even when he gets the chance to make a programme on his own, he turns it into a Top Gear rip-off.

“And that’s a crying shame, because as Cars of the People proves, May is an able and interesting TV presenter . . . until he starts the Clarkson impersonations.”

The Telegraph agreed James May’s “amiable history of quirky cars was marred by puerile stunts” but The Times thought it “well written, visually inventive … beautifully constructed with bespoke archive footage and shiny jokes.”

The Guardian also was impressed: “This was an interesting, thoughtful programme, an examination of totalitarian transport, how the motor was brought to the masses by Fiat, Trabant, Lada, Volkswagen of course, and by the regimes behind them.”

What’s nice about this programme is that these are the motors you will never see tested on the main series,” the Daily Express said.

“Why? Because none of them have a top speed of 200mph, unless they’re driven off Beachy Head in a fit of pique.”

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