It seemed Top Gear as we knew it had come to an end after an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" led to the BBC dropping host Jeremy Clarkson.
But earlier this week, it was announced that Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May would be reuniting on a yet-to-be-named car show on Amazon Prime. The presenters are joined in the new venture by longtime Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman.
While Top Gear will continue on BBC Two, led by new host Chris Evans (no, not Chris “Captain America” Evans), the Amazon show will allow viewers to also keep watching the beloved trio’s vehicular antics.
To celebrate the new series, we rounded up a list of the most unexpected stars who shredded pavement alongside Clarkson, Hammond and May on Top Gear:
Dame Helen Mirren
It’s no surprise that action mainstays like Tom Cruise, Ryan Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg have burned rubber for Top Gear‘s “star in a reasonably priced car” segment. But, less predictably, screen and stage queen Dame Helen Mirren also did a stint in the driver’s seat. In 2008, the Emmy, Tony and Oscar winner left her MetroCard at home and did a lap on the famous test track. “I don’t know if fun is the right word. It was terrifying, it was nerve-racking, it was adrenaline pumping It was sweat-making,” she said of the experience, adding that ultimately, “it was fabulous.”
That’s right, Sherlock himself put the pedal to the metal on Top Gear. “I’ve been driving badly for 36-odd years of my life,” Cumberbatch warned in his behind-the-scenes clip. “I’ve never played a race car driver, and this might be the nail in the coffin of that ever being an eventuality.” The normally reserved star of The Imitation Game seemed to adapt well to his reasonably priced Vauxhall Astra, channeling John McClane with an enthusiastic “Yippee kai yay mother——.”
Ed Sheeran boldly got behind the wheel for the very first time on Top Gear. “Nobody has ever had tires squeal on their first-ever driving lesson,” Clarkson noted. The songwriter did something else most first-time drivers try to avoid: he flew off the road and almost crashed. “I didn’t know to take my foot off the accelerator,” Sheeran explained.
The X Factor judge took a break from criticizing performers to apply some of his “pop-idoly putdowns” to cars. “It’s like the car has a disease. It’s like deformed,” he said about one Fiat model. When it came to racing skills Cowell actually impressed – much to Clarkson’s dismay: “That’s disappointingly good I really was looking forward to taking you apart,” the host said.
Geri Halliwell, a.k.a. Ginger Spice, recounted her accident-prone history on the Top Gear stage. The famous redhead shared that she promptly crashed her dream convertible into a lamppost when she left it on a hill without putting it in gear. Halliwell warned the audience that her performance in the reasonably priced car wasn’t her “best,” as she was put in “a state of tension” because of her “pre-menstrual” condition