One of Top Gear's First Hosts Has Just Lost His Presenting Job

Motoring TV

No fracas needed.

For the last 14 years, there has been a lesser-known British motoring show called Fifth Gear featuring Tiff Needell, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Quentin Willson. Prior to hosting Fifth Gear, the trio presented on Top Gear with Needell having had a presence on the show from 1987 until 2001 when the BBC initially cancelled the first version of Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson and the gang took over when the show restarted in 2002, but Needell and his crew set up a new show with the UK’s Channel 5 to keep the love of hoonage on the tube.

Now, after a 29 year run of TV hosting, Needell has just announced that he is going off of the air and taking the rest of the show with him. Unlike Clarkson, Needell didn’t get fired, but he isn’t quitting either. What happened is that the network simply stopped funding the show. Unlike its BBC counterpart, Fifth Gear was not a show with an entertainment-loving audience. This may be to blame because Fifth gear took a different approach to making automotive television. Instead of hiring writers and journalists, Fifth Gear hired accomplished racing drivers. This made for some thorough reviews but left out some of the antics that come from having an entertainment-first car-second approach like Top Gear's.

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If you wanted to get home and watch something funny, you saw Top Gear. But if you wanted a well fleshed-out car review, Fifth Gear was the channel to turn to. It’s unclear where the hosts will go from here, but this time we’re pretty sure it won’t spawn another motoring TV show like Top Gear did with The Grand Tour. We’ll miss some of Needell’s best moments like battling Chris Harris in a Ferrari 458 Italia or having the duo tackle a review of the hypercar trinity and we wish them the best. Given that Needell sent out tweets confirming the news while participating at the Mille Miglia open road endurance race, we think he'll continue to enjoy the spoils of his previous job title without the responsibility for some time.

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