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Top Gear Burma Special, BBC2 - Sunday 16th March: TV Review

By jspiteri  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

Top Gear Burma Special on BBC2 featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Credit: Ellis O'Brien

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The boys were back in Burma last night on the final leg of their epic 1200 mile trip in three clapped out lorries which would hopefully see them build a bridge on the River Kwai.

Mostly lorry hill climb, lorry breakdown, stunning scenery, lorry breakdown - you get the picture - with some schoolboy pranks chucked in for good measure the concluding part of this Christmas special had a lighter feel even though the trio were venturing into a part of the country where few if any Westerners had gone before.

Burma's Shan territory - diplomatically likened by Jeremy as 'like Scotland is to England' - is apparently known for its 'special' agriculture yet the only evidence the Top Gear boys found of possible drug use was when their convoy came across a scarily spaced out tuk tuk driver.

Not known for their peace keeping credentials the TG boys were nonetheless guests of honour at a party to celebrate the coming together of the territory's old foes and it was quite a night. Feasting on roasted grasshopper washed down by local tipple Black Cock, the Top Gear cast and crew danced till dawn while Jeremy pressed the locals about their 'special' crops.

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The scenery was stunning - lush green mountains stretched into the distance against an azure sky and reaching the summit of the highest range Jeremy professed to be 'absolutely staggered' by the view.

The steep and winding roads presented a challenge for all three vehicles but were especially difficult for James whose repeated breakdowns made him a tad ill tempered.

With some jolly japes such as tipping a sleeping Jeremy out of his lorry, peeing in Hammond's lorry mounted shower in retaliation for an earlier bump and dropping James out of his tent into the river, last night's show served up all the usual fare.

Crossing the border into Thailand, the boys were soon standing on the banks of the River Kwai and while James went off to make a bridge building plan, Jeremy, now in full army officer mode, sent Hammond in to the rather murky river to test the depth.

Taking his Alec Guinness officer role to heart Jeremy acquired some local chaps to help with the bridge construction and, after 15 days and many more mishaps with cranes, diggers and collapsing bamboo struts, the bridge was built. Before they could go home however the boys had to drive the three lorries across the ramshackle structure - this was genuinely nerve wracking viewing - would the bridge take the weight of Hammond's 7.5 tonner with added pagoda? Would Jeremy's theory that 'faster means lighter' prove correct? Well, they did it, and it was celebrations - with shots of Black Cock, Red Cock and White Spirit - all round. A slight miscalculation however meant the bridge wasn't actually over the River Kwai but was in fact over the River Kok - a rather fittingly named bombshell on which to end this rather entertaining Top Gear two-parter.

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