"Jezza" as he likes to be known to his friends (both of them), is one of the BBC's biggest assets. Turning what was a drab and boring car show into a worldwide phenomenon is no mean feat. But his presentation style and commentary meant that in the years that the BBC weren't requiring shares in Good Year or Michelin, he was doing documentaries on different subjects.
In the series "Speed," he took to finding what makes it so exciting. Is there a link between testosterone and the excitement? So, to demonstrate this, he went on what was at the time, the biggest rollercoaster in the world, the Pepsi Max at Blackpool. Did he enjoy it? Well yes. His mother, however, didn't. (Am I wrong to find this funny?)
The next series he did was all about Extreme Machines. Be it the world's most powerful tank, or a hydroplaning powerboat at 150mph, he covered it. At the time, he was the only British citizen to get an invite to fly in a two seater F15, the aircraft of choice of most of the US Navy and Airforce for fighting and bombing. It was all going so well. The pilot told him how flying the plane would stop him being nauseas, but deep down inside knew that the boys back at base had taken a book into which minute he would first puke. Apparently the pilot won.
But by far and away the best series he did was his first, all about motoring in countries around the world. One of the episodes sees him going to Cuba. The revolution in 1959 had meant that 1950s American cars are now devoid of spare parts. This means that the locals have had to improvise. Watch as two guys take a knackered Caddy roof, a hammer, some paper, some scissors and a pair of tin snips, and make a rear wing.
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