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The India Special was a special episode of the BBC motoring show Top Gear that aired as the show's Christmas special in 2011. It was the first Top Gear special to be more than an hour and a half long and is currently the longest continuous episode in the show's history, at over 88 minutes; future specials would be split into two parts. The India Special is the next chronological Top Gear special after 2010's USA Road Trip Special and successive Middle East Special.

The India Special saw the presenters ignore the then Prime Minister David Cameron and head to India for a trade mission; the boys hoped to improve Britain's international relations with one of the most heavily populated countries in the world. Beginning in Bombay, the presenters were given a budget of £7,000 to buy a "brilliant" British car. The three were then to journey up India, promoting British products and services along the way until they reached the Himalayan Mountains.

Cars

Image Vehicle Driver
RR-0
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Mk1 James May
Jaag
Jaguar XJ-S Celebration Jeremy Clarkson
Mini
Classic Rover Mini Richard Hammond

Overview

The presenters travelled to Bombay where they met up at a wharf. The first to arrive was James who had brought a 1975 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow; James admitted upon arrival that he hadn't quite made the right choice saying that he wished he brought a modern Rolls Royce but couldn't because of the budget and the fact that modern Rolls-Royce is based on a German platform . Jeremy was the next to arrive in a 1995 Jaguar XJS 4.0 I6 Celebration Edition. James criticized his choice of car saying that the Jaguar XJS is Britain's "historically most unreliable car" and that it is inappropriate considering Jaguar is now Indian. Richard (narrated by Jeremy as "something very small") was the last to arrive and turned up in a 2000 Mini Cooper Sport, which Jeremy and James both instantly agreed was a good choice. After bickering more over each others cars the presenters then began their journey up into India. They first tested their cars on the chaotic streets of Bombay where Jeremy and Richard both discovered that their air conditioning was broken. James lied to the presenters telling them that his air con was also broken when in actual fact it was working well in the hope that they wouldn't break it. The presenters also got their first look at the back up car - an Austin Allegro.

Dabbawalas - Bombay

Spurred on by "this terrible development" the presenters then decided to initiate their trade mission; their first task was to revolutionalize the Dabbawalla service provided in Bombay in which wives send food to their husbands in the city. Currently, the dabbawallas use the trains to transport the food around and it is a very efficient operation
Top gear mumbai

The trio at the start of their trade mission

(only 1 mistake is made for every 6,000,000 deliveries). The presenters decide that they can do better by using their cars and set up a race between traditional dabbawallas and themselves. The challenge begins outside a train station where the boys begin loading their cars with the food cans. James' methodical method of sorting the tins irritates Jeremy (he even called James "Captain OCD" in this part) and he ends up throwing the tins into his Jaguar and taking off at the same time as the train. Jeremy leaves behind the majority of the cans for James and Richard as he joins the streets of Bombay in pursuit of the train. Because of the boot size of his Mini, Richard is forced to carry the cans left behind by Jeremy on the roof of his car in an unsturdy basket. Richard and James set off on their journey towards the train station to which the train will arrive. To try and avoid the traffic James takes a 'ring-road approach' and sets off away from the others. Jeremy and Richard are caught in a rain storm in the centre of the city which slows the traffic down. After battling the chaotic motorists on the street Jeremy regains sight of the train and begins recklessly driving to try and catch it. Down the road further, Richard turns a corner too sharply and the majority of his cans fall off the roof and spill onto the street. After salvaging what he can from the ruined pile of food Richard again sets off in pursuit of the train. Elsewhere, James' ring road tactic has taken him far away from the city and he struggles to regain his bearings. Back in the city Jeremy narrowly beats the train to the station however, the dabbawallas are unimpressed with the quantity and quality of the food. Later on, Richard arrives and is grilled by Jeremy for being late. Both wonder where James has gone; James' ring road tactic has led him far out into the countryside and it is apparent that he has lost. The presenters concede that their dabbawala methods are not as good as the ones currently working and abandon their hopes of revolutionizing the services instead deciding to head north to Jaipur. The team are forced to take an overnight train to their destination by the producer (Andy Wilman) who does not want to drive the Austin back up car. The presenters meet up at the local train station where Richard and Jeremy leave James in a long ticket queue to have lunch. Whilst eating Richard and Jeremy decide to host a garden party in Delhi where they also plan to get the Top Gear band back together. The following day, on the train to Jaipur, the presenters hatch a plan to hang a banner on the outside of the train so that they can promote their British products to the people of the countryside. At the next station Richard runs off the buy supplies and begins painting the signs with Jeremy after reboarding the train. The team decide to try and hang the banner up whilst the train is moving by using the slip stream it generates to carry the sign between two carriages. The plan does not work and the banner ends up getting sucked out of the train after being caught in the wheels. After losing their banners Richard makes some more and then the team wait until the train stops before hanging them up. Enlisting the help of the entire production crew, the banners are eventually hung in place however James is dissatisfied with the execution of the job and insists on repairing the banners. As he is doing so the train conductor gives the signal that the train is about to leave which James briefly ignores. As a result the train departs with out him and Richard and Jeremy refuse to pull the emergency stop cord because of the 20 quid fine.

Hill Climb - Jaipur

With James left behind and forced to catch a tuk tuk Richard and Jeremy stand at the station to watch the train depart sporting their banners promoting Britain. Sadly, the banners were laid across two carriages which separate in the departure changing their slogans to rude messages. After this Richard and Jeremy are forced to drive his Rolls Royce out of it's storage container where they discover that he lied about his air conditioning. As a
Top gear india hill climb

A tuk tuk sets off at the start of hill climb

consequence and in the name of Gandhi the duo disconnect his air conditioning before he arrives. Once the presenters are reunited, Jeremy suggests that they stage a hill climb event to promote the British motoring industry. After finding a suitable hill the presenters invite locals to try and get the fastest time up their 1 km course. All manner of vehicles turn up to the event, local Indians take to the course in mopeds, tuk tuks (which roll over), elephants, coaches, and tractors. Eventually the hill climb event is out of control and the local police arrive. After seemingly sorting out the chaos the policeman insist that they have a go after which the presenters close off the event from the public. The presenters know that they must compete in the event however argue about how hard they should try. Reluctantly Jeremy agrees not to win the event so as to disappoint the Indian locals. After James and Richard each have their turn Jeremy lines up on the start line sporting a racing helmet and stop watch. After a final warning from his two co-presenters Jeremy sets off on his run forgetting all about his promise to not win. Later in the day the presenters host a ceremony to crown the winners of the hill climb. Two Indian locals finish second and third however, much to the disJames of Richard and James, Jeremy is crowned the winner and calls the other two competitors 'losers'. After the disappointing failure of the hill climb event the presenters decide to decorate their cars in a distinctive manner, splitting up to do so. James turns his car into a Ganesh and auspicious themed vehicle, while Jeremy puts green racing stripes down his Jaguar. Jeremy also fits a toilet to the back of his car, placing a 'catcher' in the boot (it was a cool box actually). Richard eventually turns up sporting his new paint job featuring the Indian flag on the bonnet of his Mini. Much to his disappointment Jeremy and James inform him that he flag he has painted on his car is not that of India rather that of Mexico, a country famously associated with Top Gear for the wrong reasons.

Garden Party - Delhi

Now on the road to Delhi, James discovers that Richard and Jeremy have broken his air conditioning, something he is furious about. The presenters are aware of the fact that they are travelling on one of India's major highways and that associated with this are terrible crash and road fatality statistics. As the day turns to night the presenters join a dual carriage way and experience the terrible Indian drivers at their worst. During this hair-raising ordeal the presenters are faced with unlit wide loads, sudden lane changes, swerving drivers, cars going the wrong way, and a lack of road signs. At one point Richard's Mini is nearly squashed between two trucks. Later, whilst refueling at their over night stop James exacts revenge on Jeremy by turning his heater on full blast and then removing the knob so that he can't change it. The following morning the dual carriage way madness continues with the dangers of the road now visible to the presenters. Continuing on their way to Delhi, the presenters pull over for a fuel stop where James also exacts revenge on Richard by putting his seat all the way forward permanently. Jeremy also begs James for his knob back showing James that his car is so hot that it has made the dye in his shirt run. Several hours later, the trio arrive in Delhi where Jeremy has a light accident with another motorist's Suzuki. The presenters travel to embassy district of the city where they are told to set up their party; Jeremy washes the cars whilst James begins cooking the dishes and Richard struggles to instruct his helpers due to their lack of English. Jeremy begins to annoy James during his cooking and they begin a brief water fight after which James leaves to buy fireworks. As Jeremy is mucking around in a digger and Richard is preparing the tables Jeremy clips the side of James' Rolls Royce with the blade of the digger. To try and cover up the scrape the pair use some bright green paint from a model Spitfire plane kit; during this painting Richard decides to get revenge on James for ruining his seat by painting over his instruments. Unimpressed with the quality of fireworks James eventually returns with Jeremy sets about building is own 'cruise missile' after telling his plan to the viewers, he then told them the materials needed to make it. One of the materials needed was a pair of pixelated hands (When he said it, the film crew pixelates his hands). Meanwhile, Richard and James are choosing the British products that they will promote; James decides to promote a lawnmower which cuts grass by itself as it is attached by a rope to a pole. Richard decides to promote an array of hair products by styling himself so that he can be a 'moving billboard'. Jeremy and Richard continue to work on their individual tasks unaware that James' lawnmower has become unattached. The out of control lawnmower goes straight through the middle of a garden before coming to a half after smashing a window. After Jeremy finishes his firework the guests begin to arrive; James is instructed to welcome the guests while Richard is put in charge of valet parking. After mingling with the guests the Top Gear trio decide to get on stage and perform their rehearsed song, 'Sowing The Seeds Of Love'. Clearly, the crowd is not happy to hear their song and in an attempt to win back the crowd Jeremy lights his homemade firework. The firework strays off course and collides with a window, making an enormous banging sound as it does so. The guests are frightened by the noise and begin to leave; however, most find it difficult to do so because of Richard's valet parking system in which he places every car key into a single bucket. 

Countryside - Northern India

The following morning the presenters discuss the failure of the party, where Richard reveals that he was bitten on the testicle by an insect. Jeremy decides that the team should head further north, into the Himalayas, to promote their products to the people of the countryside. The presenters are aware of the rough terrain they will face in the mountains and so head to a garage to modify their cars, in the process of which Richard destroys his guitar and is hit in the face with his Mini's front bumper. Later that same day the presenters are back on the motorway and reveal their changes to one another. Jeremy admits instantly that he has ruined his Jaguar; for the off roading he had fitted chunky tires to his car and subsequently changed the suspension of his Jaguar. Jeremy explains that the ride has been ruined, the rev counter has broken, the braking is worse, and the tires catch on the wheel arches making a constant droning noise. James also admits that he has ruined his car, making similar modifications to Jeremy; he too has the problem with the tires catching on his wheel arches. By contrast, Richard is pleased with his changes. He explains that he has changed the tires (it now had rally tires) and fitted a winch and protective plate to the underside of his Mini. Jeremy also reveals that he moved his Jaguar's exhaust to the front, giving him around 5cm more ground clearance. Jeremy and James begin arguing about whose car is the worst and eventually agree to swap cars at the next fuel stop. After a few minutes in each others cars James begs Jeremy to give him his Rolls Royce back; now back in the Jaguar, Jeremy begins to annoy Richard with a new sound system he has installed playing a song from Genesis, a band Richard is known to hate. In the next town Jeremy uses his sound system to broadcast a speech from himself to the Indian people, promoting Britain. As he is delivering his speech a truck sideswipes his Jaguar taking one of his front tires off. While the driver of the truck runs off and Richard and James continue onwards Jeremy greets the locals and changes the tire on his car. After more driving Jeremy eventually reconnects with Richard and James in the foothill of the Himalayas. At the village where they are due to stay the night Jeremy reignites his PR campaign inappropriately saying, "The British are back... I mean here!". No one in the village is interested in their products so to 'cheer themselves up' Richard and Jeremy decide to get revenge on James by modifying his car; at the same time Jeremy fits a silencer to the exhaust of his Jaguar. James then reveals the modifications made to his car by Jeremy and Richard: every time he touches the brake pedal the horn sounds. Attempting to look on the positive side of things James declares the modification has given him a new game to play, avoid braking. Now with the Himalayas in sight the Top Gear team realize that they are running out of India and people to promote their British products. They continue climbing up the mountains into breath-taking scenery, Jeremy attempting to match the moment with some more songs from Genesis. The tarmac begins to end and the boys are forced to continue on their journey off road. After a few hours of off road driving they get to a traffic jam, caused by the locals using dynamite to clear away the debris from rock slides. In an effort to save time the presenters decide to use a steep short cut to bypass the blockade. Richard and
Top gear rolls stuck

James' Rolls Royce becomes stuck

Jeremy's cars scale the hill with little effort but James's Rolls Royce get's stuck half way through it's ascent. In order to continue on with their journey Richard agrees to winch James the rest of the way up the hill. After anchoring the Mini to Jeremy's Jaguar to prevent it from rolling down the hill Richard begins winching the Rolls Royce. As the Rolls Royce is coming free James notices that the Mini's bodywork is being pulled off by the winch, Richard apparently fitting it to the wrong part of his car. The team continue on their journey with Richard now deeply upset about his Mini's destruction. The sun begins to set and day turns to night; Jeremy informs Richard that the hotel is still a two hour drive. Richard suggests that they instead set up camp at the side of the road to which Jeremy is strongly against. He is forced to agree with Richard although and the team settle down to sleep. The following morning the team continue driving towards the border with China and the presenters begin reflecting on the failure of their trade mission. Just as they are nearly at their journeys end, the team come across a group of teenagers playing a makeshift game of cricket. The team pull over and suggest that the teens play a match against them using the exhaust from Jeremy's Jaguar in replace of a bowler. The kids agree and the entire Top Gear production crew joins in. At the end of the match it is revealed that the Indian teenagers had won the match and as a token of their victory Jeremy decides to burn the bridge of Richard's double bass and then presents it to one of the kids. Now happy that they have finally done something useful and positive towards relations between India and Britain the team set off once more to their final destination, reflecting about their cars along the way. The presenters agree that their cars are better ambassadors for Britain than they could ever be and pull over at a small field in the foreground of the Himalayas. The Top Gear team raises all three of the cars on top of plinths with a Union Jack on the front of all three. "The Mini, the Jag, and the Rolls would be mounted on plinths here, high in the mountains by the road connecting India and China so that forever more people travelling between these two great economic superpowers will be reminded that far away there's a small island called Britain, Great Britain." 

Quotes

Main article: India Special/Quotes

Trivia

  • Despite its 8/10 rating on IMDb, this special is very polarising among fans and is either considered a shark-jump point or an uncharacteristically below average episode sandwiching the 17th and 18th series of the show.
  • Critiques included the obvious scripting of segments, the ruining of 3 classic cars, and the apparent general unfunniness of several gags. Its lack of resonance with the fans was even lampooned by host Jeremy Clarkson in a later episode.
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