EXCLUSIVE: With audiences starting to trickle back into UK entertainment shows, Top Gear has come up with its own unique solution to social distancing measures: inviting fans to turn up and watch the recording from the safety of their own cars.
BBC Studios will begin shooting the link sections of Top Gear from September 8 and has asked those attending to join a “drive-in” audience, from which they will be able to view Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris, and Paddy McGuinness in action.
Lost In TV, which is managing ticketing for the show, said the recording will take place at Top Gear’s usual Dunsfold Park home and drivers will be asked to park a safe distance apart from each other.
Vehicles will be stationed on Top Gear’s Dunsfold track runway, Deadline understands, and there will be no seating or standing areas. A block of five episodes will be recorded in this way over three nights.
A Top Gear spokesman said: “Filming the show in front of a live audience at the track in Surrey has always been a special part of Top Gear but we obviously had to rethink this for the upcoming series.
“The drive-in recordings should offer a memorable evening out for the audiences attending — as well as a very appropriate alternative to the usual hangar studio for BBC One and global viewers.”
The unusual workaround is necessary given the show is usually filmed in front of a packed crowd of 600 people in a windowless air hangar. The audience is often in-shot and close to the presenters.
This would be impossible to achieve amid safety procedures, and even if individual audience members were permitted, they would need to be few and far between. Fellow BBC entertainment show QI was filmed in front of just 40 people this week.
BBC Studios told Deadline in May that it was keen to maintain some sort of audience. This was seen as being particularly important with the show moving to from BBC Two to BBC One, where scale is vital. BBC America broadcasts Top Gear in the U.S.