Derek Smith, the creator of the original series of Top Gear, has died.
Smith, who spearheaded the launch of the car show on the BBC in 1977, passed away this week aged 87.
The first ever Top Gear debuted on BBC Midlands as a magazine programme focused on automobiles.
It later became broadcast nation-wide and fronted by Angela Rippon.
“He was a character, with a sense of fun, yet a serious determination that he had a duty to tell interesting stories in stimulating ways,” Smith’s son, Graham, wrote in an obituary on The Guardian website.
As well as his work on the popular series, he also masterminded documentary The Flight Deck Story and competition series Now Get Out of That.
His death comes just weeks after the biggest controversy the series has had in its long history.
Top Gear was originally cancelled in 2001, before being rebooted as a studio show fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
Clarkson was sacked in March after an internal inquiry concluded he had assaulted a show producer following a “fracas” over catering arrangements.
The trio will still present a live world tour next month, but it will be stripped of all BBC branding and hosted under the name Clarkson, Hammond and May Live.
Clarkson will not face police charges, it was confirmed today.