Top Gear is one of the biggest and most successful shows in TV history and with its unique blend of factual information and incredible comedy, the show has become one of the longest running hit series in history. Despite the fact that it may have dropped in popularity since the surprising departures of James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear remains to be a show that brings in impressive audience figures.
The show is reported to earn the BBC an estimated $155 million per year, which is a clear indication as to why the show has been kept on each year, with a growing budget to ensure the show remains at the highest level of quality.
Top Gear now plays in over 200 territories and that means that people worldwide do everything they can to see the show live. But with so many people hoping to see the show and it becoming so popular, there are rules put in place for those who turn up to the set each time a taping takes place to become a part of the studio audience.
As fans gear up for Season 26 of the hit show, let's run down 20 of the rules that the fans must follow if they are attending the live taping of the shows, from the obvious and the expected to the rather surprising.
20 Must laugh At The Jokes
One of the best parts about Top Gear is the constant jokes that the various hosts make during the shows on the set. Most of the time, these are at their own expense, which makes them even funnier, but they are always guaranteed a laugh from the live crowd. Much like any TV show, not every single joke will land with people, and that includes those watching live.
But the difference between watching at home and watching live on set is that on set, the audience must laugh at every joke, no matter how many times they have heard it through retakes. The reason for this is so that it's clear the joke is funny for the viewers at home, and it is a rule the audience must obey. The Independent reported how Chris Evans went as far as to swear at the audience once during filming because they didn't laugh, showing how important it is.
19 Over 18 Only
Whilst Top Gear is watched by millions of people of all ages, the show's main target demographic is for people who are over the age of 18 because some of the jokes can be slightly inappropriate for those who are younger. Because of this, the show has a strict rule that only people over the age of 18 are allowed to be in the audience for the live taping, which is why younger fans have never been seen inside the building.
Whilst it is a shame for those younger fans as they will never get the opportunity to go around the set, that is the rule, so if you look underage, having some photo ID might serve you well.
18 You May Be Moved Due To Strobing
Because of how people’s clothes can react to the TV cameras, the chances are that certain patterns and prints can cause strobing on the cameras, which would obviously have a major impact on the quality when the show aired on TV. Because of this, there is a chance that producers will move people specifically out of the show in order for it not to cause a problem for when the show is edited.
After all, they don't want to waste their time having to constantly re-shoot things. However, even though it makes sense why the producers would make that happen, it can lead to some frustration from audience members who are hoping to be on television with the show's hosts.
17 No Large Bags
This rule tends to be the case for most things that contain a large audience, with security concerns being the major reason, and that is the case for Top Gear tapings, as well, with large bags not being allowed inside the building. This is likely because it would be incredibly time-consuming for security to have to go through lots of large bags every single time the producers need to get everyone inside and in position ready for the taping to begin.
Whilst people do like to take a few things with them, they must all fit into a small bag, as anyone turning up with a big bag will be made to place them back in their cars before entering.
16 Equal Male-Female Ratio
It might seem like an utterly bizarre rule, but for those who are looking to pick up more than just one Top Gear ticket, you had best make sure there is an equal ratio of males to females, with the show wanting to ensure that the audience has a balance. Because the show's audience tends to be mostly male, the showrunners do not want to alienate female audiences and therefore, ensuring that there is a balance within the live audience is important for them to do that.
Whilst the security isn’t reportedly too strict with this, in terms of actually checking, the show will ensure that there is a balance in the audience so that it appears on camera to those viewing at home.
15 Special Wristbands For Front Row
Top Gear producers issue out wristbands to certain people when the audience first arrives to the set for the taping of the show, which means that they will be set to appear on camera at the front of the set for the show. It does tend to be beautiful women who are given this opportunity, with the producers clearly wanting a certain look from the audience when they are appearing next to the hosts.
But that isn't always the case. Sadly, not everyone is going to get a wristband, meaning some members of the audience will have to stand further back and might not make it on TV, but not everyone can be at the front, can they?
14 No Talking During Filming
During taping, one of the essential rules that the audience must follow is that no talking is allowed during the filming. This is because when the hosts are giving the latest car news or interviewing a celebrity, the cameras should hear them, and them alone. The members of the audience are only expected to talk on the rare occasion when a host asks them a question, in which case, it is obviously fine for them to provide an answer to whatever question is asked.
It is crucial that people don't talk in the background because even the slightest noise can be picked up by the high-quality cameras and that would only ensure more retakes happen, which the BBC doesn't want to pay for.
13 No Large Brand Logos
Another of the key rules that the live audience must follow when they attend is that when they attend, they must not wear any large brands on their clothing because the BBC cannot be shown as promoting any company. There is a reason that the hosts do not ever have brand logos on their clothing; the same situation applies to them, and those who are attending the show in the audience are warned about the same situation.
Those who do end up turning up with big logos will more than likely be placed at the back of the audience, ensuring that the logo isn't shown on television and that just the audience member's head pops up.
12 Tickets Must Be Printed
Despite the fact that we now live in a digital age where everyone has a smartphone, Top Gear still sticks to a more traditional route for tickets and because of that people, must bring a printed ticket in order to enter the tapings. Whilst people might complain about the environment or that they could forget the tickets while they could easily be saved on an email, it does make sense as to why Top Gear prefers it that way, as there is a slimmer chance of people having fake tickets.
On top of that, even though the audience members must remember the tickets in order to get in, it does provide a small memento that the petrolheads can keep for life to remember the moment.
11 You Don’t Get To Know The Star In The Reasonably Priced Car
You would think that Top Gear might want to advertise who is going to fill in the popular, ‘Star In The Reasonably Priced Car’ slot to entice more people to buy tickets, but the show doesn’t let anybody know in advance. Of course, this isn’t going to be the main reason for a car fanatic to want a ticket to the show but it would be information that people might want to know beforehand.
However, even when guests first arrive they still do not find out. One of the first things that the audience does when they arrive is watch the star practice on the track but even at that point, they do not alert the audience as to who the mystery celebrity is.
10 You Get A Tea & Biscuit Break
In typical fashion, Top Gear likes to provide the audience with some refreshments at the halfway point of the tapings, giving them a chance to chat about what they have seen and interact with the hosts for selfies and autographs. During this time, the show provides people with a cup of tea or coffee, as well as some biscuits, and accounts from people who have attended before have even stated that the hosts themselves often help out in making the drinks.
Whilst nobody is forced to take a drink if they don't want one, it is nice that Top Gear does that for its audience members, giving a little something back to them for giving up their time to watch the show.
9 No Recording
This rule comes along with the no mobile phone rule, as it is through smartphones that most people would try to film things themseles. But it is a clear rule that audience members are not allowed to film anything whilst the show is taping. People are given the opportunity to record the set and the cars that are inside when the show isn't taping, providing them with a memory that they can take back, but during the tapings, it is strictly prohibited.
The reason for this is obvious, as the show cannot take any risks in things being leaked. Whilst people might be aware of what is going to happen, there is no chances that they will be able to show anybody, as that would spoil things for the wider audience.
8 Multiple Takes
When the show is aired on television, it is a glossy, perfect, one-hour of fun, facts, and fast-paced driving, with no mistakes or issues—other than what the hosts encounter on their many adventures around the world. However, in reality, it is a show that's filmed live and this means that problems can, and will arise.
From the hosts forgetting their lines or saying something wrong to camera issues or a problem in the audience, there can be all manner of problems that crop up. When this happens, Top Gear is forced to do another take in order to create the perfect show that you enjoy on TV and therefore, if you do attend it live, then the chances are high that there will be retakes.
7 You Might Not Be On Television
Everyone who applies for tickets to Top Gear does so for the chance to see the hit show live, as it is being recorded, as well as to meet the hosts, see the celebrity guests, and of course, appear on television behind them all. However, the chances of people appearing on television are actually slimmer than what most realize due to the number of people who are inside the building and the positions that they are in.
Those who are lucky enough to be in the front row will certainly be shown at some point when the camera pans to them but for the others who aren't so fortunate, there is a good chance there will be no spots on TV for them as they stand at the back.
6 Tapings Can Last Six Hours
Even though a typical episode of Top Gear lasts just one hour, the taping can be a grueling, long process due to several issues such as camera problems, countless retakes, and issues with the audience. Each taping normally lasts for a minimum of three hours but there have been countless reports from attendees that the tapings have lasted for up to six hours, which is an incredibly long time to be standing around, even if you love everything about the show.
This isn't so much a rule in the sense that you are told beforehand that the taping will last this long, but if you turn up, then you're expected to stick around for the full process, no matter how long that might be.
5 You Must Stay Standing
With the previous rule in mind, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that throughout the six-hour tapings, you will spend pretty much the entire of that time standing up on your feet. Everyone knows the traditional look of a Top Gear show and therefore, it isn't a major surprise to learn that at certain points you are going to be standing, as that is the way things have always been.
But there are no major breaks for people to take a seat. There is normally just one break during a day's taping of Top Gear and because of that, it means that the audience is standing for almost the entire time. So, if long periods of standing isn't for you, then attending the show live might not be for you.
4 First Come First Serve
It might seem like a bizarre practice but Top Gear actually allocates far more tickets than the set can actually host, which means that to gain entry to watch the show, the audience is allowed to enter on a first come, first entry basis. This—normally—doesn’t cause an issue because plenty of people end up not turning up, for whatever reason, but there was once a problem of around 50 audience members being turned away due to the fact that the set was already full.
BBC stated, at the time, that it is common practice to oversell the show in order to guarantee it is sold out and looking busy on TV, but this can lead to people being turned away and left disappointed.
3 There’s A 21-Year Waiting List
Over the years, Top Gear has become a worldwide phenomenon, creating some of the greatest moments in television history and it has easily become the greatest and most popular car-related TV show ever made. Because of this, Top Gear has grown a huge fanbase, which means there are a lot of people who want to go and attend the show's taping live, in order to meet the hosts, see the set, and possibly be on television for an episode.
With the sheer number of people around the world hoping to be in the audience, there has been an incredibly long waiting list that is rumored to be up to 21 years to simply get a ticket to attend the show.
2 No Phones
This is a fairly basic rule to kick start the list, but throughout the taping of every episode audience members are not allowed to go on their phones and they must all be on silent mode throughout the tapings. This is for several reasons, with the first being that Top Gear doesn't want people in the background scrolling through social media; they want the audience to be focused solely on what is happening on the show.
But most importantly, if someone's phone starts ringing or making any sort of loud noises, it will stop the proceedings and that means that Top Gear would need re-film everything again, wasting time and money.
1 No Swearing
This is another fairly obvious rule for live television but it stands for Top Gear audiences, as well, with people being told that they cannot swear during the duration of the taping of the show. Of course, the audience isn't expected to talk at all during the filming process, as the show is about what the hosts are saying, not strange background conversations between audience members, but swearing is a big no go.
Top Gear never features swearing and because of that, any foul language from those in attendance would likely see them get removed from the taping, as it is not allowed.
Sources: Quora, Get Surrey, Opposite Lock Piston Heads, and CNN.