Richard Hammond

Three more years of Clarkson on Top Gear

Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have signed a new commercial deal which effectively ensures they will continue on the show for at least three more more years.

Pet of the week: The Syrian hamster

Undeniably cute with his twitchy whiskers, pouchy cheeks and shining eyes, it's easy to see how the hamster has snuggled his way to our hearts. Unlike Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, the hamster has never needed an animated alter-ego equivalent to do the talking for him. Not unless you count Richard Hammond...

Stig's helmet up for auction

One of the distinctive white racing helmets worn by The Stig on BBC's Top Gear could fetch up to £1,200 when it is sold at auction today.

Big trouble at BBC2? The controller is calm under fire

It can't be easy for Janice Hadlow just now. She is the woman who made television stars of Simon Schama and David Starkey. She is ready to enthuse about plans to broadcast underwater images of a submerged Mycenaean city, to make a landmark series on the classical world, and to reveal the home-decorating secrets of the Victorians.

Bernie Andrews: Radio producer who worked on Saturday Club, Top Gear

In the late 1980s, after record companies had reissued many of their best-sellers on compact disc, they began contemplating the release of the BBC sessions recorded by major acts such as the Beatles, the Who, David Bowie, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fairport Convention and Led Zeppelin.

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Diary: Too many miles on the clock

On Sunday, BBC2 aired the Top Gear Botswana special for the 15th time. Unwittingly, I found myself watching it again. If you haven't seen it (which would involve you not owning a television) it's the one where James May does not get eaten by lions, despite Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson, secreting raw meat inside his Mercedes as they drive across the southern African nation. Hammond also does not drown in the Okavango when his Opel Kadett sinks. And Clarkson crashes his Lancia, but not fatally. According to the BBC website, this single episode of Top Gear has been repeated, on average, once every 2.2 months since its original broadcast in November 2007 (and that's not even counting the myriad times it's been re-run on Dave and Dave Ja Vu). Statistically speaking, you are almost as likely to find the Top Gear Botswana special when you turn on the television as you are the news. For my licence fee, I'd expect something a little more original during prime-time.

Tom Sutcliffe: Happiness – who needs it?

'There's a lot of grimness out there," said the TV producer Daisy Goodwin earlier this week, complaining about the literary miserablism she'd encountered as the chair of this year's Orange Prize for Fiction jury. "There are a lot of books that start with a rape. Pleasure does seem to have become a rather neglected element in publishing." By her account it had been a somewhat gloomy business doing the reading for the long list, finishing off one dispiriting account of human tragedy only to pick up another, un-mediated by jollity or lightness of tone. And though one sympathises with the chore, or the desire for a bit of variety, her grumble couldn't help but sound a slightly naïve and unliterary note – given how important "grimness" is in the canon. Bang goes Hamlet and Macbeth. Bang goes Crime and Punishment. Bang goes most of Thomas Hardy and all of Kafka. Gloomy, gloomy, gloomy guys! Can't you just cheer up and give us a joke every now and then to make the time pass a little quicker?

MoD defends time spent on Top Gear stunts

Whether it is trying to blast a Lotus sports car off the road with an Apache helicopter, or using an RAF Typhoon to race the world’s fastest road car, no series of Top Gear would be complete without some sort of high-octane cameo from our armed forces.