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BBC HD: Wimbledon and some Top Gear questions

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 13:01 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009

Hello Everyone,

I'm glad that on the whole you seem to be enjoying our Wimbledon coverage. Yes, there have been a few technical glitches, all of which are picked up and addressed, but I hope you recognise that it is a pretty complex technical operation, especially since we are combining BBC coverage of the tournament on BBC One and BBC Two in order to bring you as much of the action as we can through the day.

This is the first year that we've taken this approach (and indeed had the infrastructure around the ground to bring all the action to you in HD) - I believe that it does allow us to offer you sight of more matches, and we'll build from the experience this year to try to ensure that it is even more seamless next year.

I know that many of you are frequently frustrated about the programmes not in HD. Along with the sports events we don't currently screen, you often raise Top Gear as a show you believe would benefit from being in HD.

I wanted to ask you:

What it is about Top Gear that means you really want to watch it in HD?

What are the qualities which you identify as particularly suitable for HD?

Can you let me know - ideally in one short sentence - either through comments here or by emailing me at danielle.nagler@bbc.co.uk? I want to understand what you see in SD shows that you believe gives them added value in HD, not least because it is really helpful in evaluating new HD programme opportunities that cross my desk.

Thanks as always for your input, and enjoy the last couple of days of tennis.

Danielle Nagler is Head of HD, BBC Vision



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  • Comment number 1.

    For me, the killer would be the resultant availability of Top Gear on iPlayer HD (as this benefits the huge numbers of people who don't have access to BBC HD directly). the difference in quality is very clearly perceptible in this context, especially given the propensity of Top Gear to include rapid-motion content.

  • Comment number 2.

    I believe that Top Gear is one of the BBC's most beautiful programmes, with care taken to frame and filter shots to show the cars to their best. Putting that on the BBC HD channel, along with hearing the cars in Dolby Digital sound would be a comparable showcase of HD to colour television's broadcast of snooker.

  • Comment number 3.

    Top Gear is one of the best shot programs on the BBC.
    I also believe there'd be less compression artefacts during the high speed shots.

  • Comment number 4.

    The car review sequences are always stunning on top gear, almost cinematic in my view and this along with the much enhanced sound (I'd love to hear a Veyron hairing around the track in 5.1) makes Top Gear such a mouth watering prospect in HD.

  • Comment number 5.

    Top Gear's Polar Expedition episode looked great - I thought it was a sign of things to come and so have been disappointed that it hasn't come to fruition. It's a flagship program for the BBC, exported and followed by many around the world - I'm very surprised the decision to keep it in SD has (apparently) been made. Let's hope it's available in time for Freeview-HD in December (btw. any news on DVB-T2 hardware that will be required for this?)

  • Comment number 6.

    Top Gear is in my opinion, the most incredibly shot programme on the BBC. I'm always interested to see what effects and shots are used when one of the guys reviews a new car. I think both these reviews and the footage of races the team have across the globe would look brilliant in HD. You only have to watch the polar special that was shot in HD to see the possibilities.

  • Comment number 7.

    To echo the sentiments of others, Top Gear is about 50% beautiful, highly detailed shots - not just of cars, but the landscapes of the challenges, with some slow-motion shots that are even more impressive, and the cinematography that they achieve feels like it is already pushing standard definition as far as it can go.

    As an addendum: for me, the real win of HD isn't always the increased pixel count - the colour depth is much improved (at least on Sky HD and HD-DVD), and that's as important as the higher resolution for a show like Top Gear.

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't have an HD TV, but if I did I'd love to watch Top Gear on it. They obviously take so much care in making it look good that I think if it were in HD the shiny cars would look more perfect, the gritty runway more gritty.

  • Comment number 9.

    Top Gear is adored the world 'round and is become a showcase of British showmanship. And not for just the sardonic banter - Top Gear sports world-class production values. I can think of no better candidate to showcase the BBC's technical leadership as well.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ditto really. Brilliant action and slow-mo shots that deserve to be in the best possible resolution.

  • Comment number 11.

    There is just one thing spoiling the BBC's otherwise excellent coverage of Wimbledon. Invariably it is extremely difficult to hear the co-commentator- John McEnroe in the case of the match between Tommy Haas and Roger Federer being televised at the moment. Are they too far from the microphone? I would have thought that anyone monitoring the transmissions would have noticed this by now and taken steps to rectify the problem.

  • Comment number 12.

    3 things:

    1) It's a great show
    2) The SD picture quality is crap - jaggies everywhere.
    3) I suspect most of us don't want showcase titles - we want ALL our favourite TV programmes in HD

  • Comment number 13.

    Re: point 2) above. Why is that? Dragon's Den is another example yet other shows looks great on BBC.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ newsk44. Generally with DD 5.1 the speech almost invariably comes from the centre channel and effects from left, right and rears.

    With Wimbledon, they're putting the commentators in the left and right channels.

    I generally have my centre speaker set louder than the others so I can hear speech more clearly. However with Wimbledon, this results in the effects drowning out the commentary. Perhaps you're experiencing similar?

    I hope next year, they put the commentators in the middle!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Although not a "Petrol Head", I watch Top Gear for the shear fun and entertainment it offers. It is also beautifully shot and the scenery is generally quite spectacular.

    I feel that the only shows that should be in HD are ones that will benefit from it. Discussion panel shows, Lottery shows, current affairs shows will not, in my opinion, benefit from the transition to HD. Who wants Gordon Browns sweaty brow in HD?? Anyone??

  • Comment number 16.

    @ irishstew

    "I feel that the only shows that should be in HD are ones that will benefit from it."

    Every programme benefits from being in HD, although of course some more than others.

    I for one am looking forward to Sky News HD next Spring.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry, it's a tedious lads show and I can think of a stack more suitable programs to be putting in HD before it gets a look-in.
    TBH find it highly objectionable that my licence-fee goes to paying for Clarkson & Co. getting paid vast sums for acting like over-grown boorish boys refusing to grow up and I'm damned if I can see a single good reason for us licence fee payers to pay for this rolling car advert either.

  • Comment number 18.

    "What are the qualities which you identify as particularly suitable for HD?"

    Apart from sports anything that is on TV which would make me happy, excited/drool ...

    So that would include:
    Top Gear
    Ski Sunday, both high altitude and the races
    Forumla one

    That would do if nothing else

    Dont bother with Eastenders, as most people arent interested!

  • Comment number 19.

    I am extremely dissapointed that the site "hessmo.com" was taken down by the BBC. Top Gear is my favorite show, and in the U.S. you can't really watch it, as in many other countries...If the BBC is not going to let websites post full episodes than it would be great if the BBC would post full episodes. There needs to be some way that people around the world can watch Top Gear, and i sincerely hope something is down to address this issue.

  • Comment number 20.

    I dislike watching anything in SD and Top Gear just happens to be one of the few BBC programmes I enjoy watching. I completely agree with everyone saying the artistic side of it would benefit - it is a beautifully shot programme.

  • Comment number 21.

    So we got top Gear at the top of the list

    So now the next step would be like a questionnaire or survey for the whole nation to do

    Instead of picking random shows see what the majority want and start that way.

    You could make a article on front page of bbc website asking what they would like to see the most on the BBC HD channel.

    We already know people want sports but we'll leave that to the side for now.

  • Comment number 22.

    Top Gear is not just a car show is it? It's escapist magazine style entertainment that people identify with everyman type presenters. Most viewers won't get to drive these cars and the location shots can be very pretty. It's HIGH-MOTION, associative content. 50i or 50P, for we don't want to see wheels going backward do we? 5th gear in 25p looks rubbish (IMHO).

  • Comment number 23.

    Top Gear is beautifully shot so will be impressive in HD

  • Comment number 24.

    Top Gear would of course be more impressive if you replaced the encoder you are using right now. I didn't want to let a blog go without mentioning the HD picture quality issue you've acknowledged already.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear digitalscoobiedoo

    Just look at the posts for Wimbledon and Glastonbury to judge the picture quality.


  • Comment number 26.

    HD is a must for all fast moving sports and hugely enhances the feel of the broadcast. For that reason Top Gear would look in HD but a greater priority must surely be to get 'Bernievision' to offer F1 in HD.

  • Comment number 27.

    What everybody else said. Showmanship and visuals. Way, way better in higher res and better sound. Unfortunately Top Gear pq in SD leaves a lot to be desired and is on BBC2 which is poorer compared to BBC1 and tends to rub it in a bit.

    There isn't another programme like it, so unfortunately I'm not sure us telling you why we want it in HD helps stuff flying across your desk at all. Strangely enough I'm pretty pleased countryfile is shot in HD, good idea and about the last programme I expected to be.

  • Comment number 28.


    I think your question about what shows are suitable for HD treatment completely missis the point.

    EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN HD! It's a technical improvement that mitigates the vastly increased size of modern TVs. The genre / content of the program is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.

    SD is just not good enough for TVs above 37" IMHO.

  • Comment number 29.

    Wimbledon: Enjoying the HD coverage and for special games I thought the 5.1 sound made the event come alive. The main camera angle was moved too much, generating unwanted digital artefacts. I think I prefer slow moving camera with the additional views between the play. Loved the slow motion.

    Top Gear: The excellent production would fit into HD picture experience well. I would also like to hear the sound on 5.1. Like I would like to see flowers form Chelsea - they look real!

    General: I have noted many times how much I value the 5.1 sound as part of the HD experience. A few contributors have agreed with me. So far I have not found any response from Danielle! Andy Questead any views (sic)?

  • Comment number 30.

    Short Answer

    Top Gear has some amazing camera work, of a par with the Natural History dept. That would look amazing in HD.

    Longer answer. To be honest I would like to watch all my favorite programs in HD. Nearly everything I watch is enhanced by HD so I want it on everything. As one of my favorite programs on the BBC, Top Gear is high on the list of things to see. But over and above that the wonderful camera work they do on the supercar reviews is just crying out for HD. Far more in my opinion than say Michael Macintyres comedy roadshow. I do watch that in HD, but really don't think its adding all that much. I guess that part of the problem is those segments rely a lot on high speed cameras for those amazing pin sharp slow mo shots, I suppose combining high speed camera work with HD is a challenge.

    Knowing that there is limited capacity on the HD station, my priority would be for external broadcast programs and shows where what you focus on the picture (unlike say stand up comedy).

  • Comment number 31.

    I think all the above can be distilled into two key areas - visual and aural impact - and it is clear that in both areas Top Gear scores heavily. Visually you have not only the physical environment in which the segments are shot, but also the emphasis on framing, composition, lighting, digital enhancement/modification of the images, use of shutter-speed adjustment and the speed of movement of the cars themselves. Aurally you have the unique sounds generated by high-performance vehicles and the overall effects of tyre noise, etc., as well as the (usually) well-chosen background music.

    As a licence-payer, I would suggest that BBC Vision should use these same two visual/aural impact benchmarks when assessing the justification for migration from SD across all in-house produced programming genres, but I would suggest that these should also be borne in mind when broadcasting feature films as many of these would meet these benchmarks requirements and justify HD play-out.

    Also - and apologies for going slightly off-topic. In the 1970s and 1980s there was a twin-fee TV licence, to reflect the colour/black & white split before colour adoption became widespread. In other threads on this blog the issue of funding (especially where HD sport is concerned) for HD expansion has been raised. On the basis of these two points, it could be argued that the BBC have a case to go back to the Government and seek a HD 'enhanced licence' (say an extra £25 per year - 50p per week - 7p per day) with the yield ringfenced for HD programming and rights acquisition. The British public is already being 'softened-up' for such processes by the recently announced £60 per year 'phone levy' to pay for broadband enhancements, so there is a virtual precedent in place for paying extra for technological enhancement, even if the initial beneficiaries will be a relatively small minority.

    A Train Driver

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi, Danielle.

    I'm writing to you after reading your blog about why we want to see shows like Top Gear in HD. The answer to that seems simple enough - it's not specifically that programme on it's own. It's just wanting to see it in HD.

    Given a choice of watching the same show in SD or HD, wouldn't you rather see it in HD?

    The picture quality is much, much better in HD - regardless of the programme, it's all about choice - something you're simply not giving us by not making more shows in HD.

    In your blog you ask "what is it about Top Gear that means you really want to watch it in HD?". Personally, I could ask the exact same question about EastEnders - but as I understand it the EastEnders set is being rebuilt so it can be filmed in HD.

    So why is EastEnders good enough to be in HD, but shows like Top Gear aren't?

  • Comment number 33.

    Some very good answers to your question are above, I concur with most. For me, I want to see Top Gear in HD just because it is one of the shows I watch. I watch programmes which have great camerawork and/or good sound, which I find mostly on BBC2 or BBC4, and all of which would/do benefit from HD picture quality and digital 5.1 sound. I'm also a man, so I like to watch sport e.g. Rugby, Cricket, F1, Skiing (not soccer) although I can't stand the idea of having to pay an Australian multi-millionaire for the privelge of doing so and consequently, thus far, I've resisted getting Sky (a principle that pains me everyday, e.g. having to listen to the great Lions match today on the radio - well done lads!). My wife and daughters, along with many other women I suspect, couldn't give a fig about HD, so their favourite shows i.e. soaps, kids/teens programmes should wait until all your channels are in HD before making the transition. By the way it would be nice to know what your planned timescale for all BBC channels in HD is - I guess there is a plan. Films also look and sound great in HD, even old ones (there was a very old film on ITV HD today, the baby and the battleship I think it was called, which although rubbish was stunning to look at, albeit 4:3). Classic films, and old TV shows shot on film like the original Star Trek, would be a great addition to your schedules, as would more concerts (not just the Proms) or opera to supplement the other types of music we get already with Jools and Glasto'. Things I do not, repeat DO NOT, want to see on a "best of the BBC" HD channel are Panel shows, Soaps (especially EastEnders), kids programmes, modern comedies nor endless hours of previews. I hope this answer was short enough to get read. Cheers for asking!

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh, another thing re: Top Gear, if you're all set-up to make most of the show in HD but are holding back because you don't have an HD studio to make the rest in, then don't bother waiting. I'm assuming you can already make the challenges, car reviews, etc. in HD right now, as you've done the Polar special, and the track bits would surely just need a few of those Sony EX One / Three cameras you've trialled dotted around. I think you should go ahead with doing just those bits in HD now, starting ASAP, and not wait any longer. The studio bit in the hangar (or warehouse, or whatever it is) IMHO wouldn't benefit greatly from HD anyway - personally I nip out to open a bottle of wine, or to make a coffee, during those bits because I find them dull and juvenile. If you have to have the whole show in HD, because of some stupid BBC rules, then why not just have a shorter programme on BBC HD without the studio bits. I'm sure most would prefer to have that now than to wait ages for you to build them a new HD studio. - Also, to avoid confusion, when I said concerts in my last piece I meant of the classical music variety not more U2 or the like.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sorry, I'm using more than my fair share of comments tonight but in the light of what's on telly this evening I have to add another of my pet hates to things that, relatively speaking, don't benefit greatly from HD and can therefore be filtered out of the limited BBC HD schedules - GAME SHOWS!

  • Comment number 36.

    I would love to know how many people you get pestering you and commenting in your blogs about soaps and children's programs that need to be aired on HD against those requesting Top Gear and Formula 1. I think the results of those ratios would answer your question of what programs need to be on the HD high priority list. I know Formula 1 is out of your control but Top Gear isn't so make your viewers that pay your wages happy. Thank you for asking our opinions.

  • Comment number 37.

    If there are a limited number of programmes on in HD, Top Gear should be one of them. From the challenges in various parts of the world where landscapes are incorporated, making the whole thing a little like a travel/adventure programme, to the highly desirable machines that most of us can only see in standard definition or at a car show. HD would bring the clarity and vividness of being there to our HD capable TVs, which currently display a standard definition image that appears fuzzy once upscaled by the display. Your time is appreciated in trying to understand why we want HD Top Gear. Ideally, as mentioned by others, it would be better if everything was in HD, but having to be selective means Top Gear is at the top of my list :)

  • Comment number 38.

    I cannott believe the head of BBC has to ask this question. Can you not work out why people want this show and many others in HD????
    For the answer, maybe you should take a look at the SD showings and then you may find your answer. Studpid question to ask in my view.

    It really is time for new people to Run BBC HD.

    We have Danielle who has to ask why we want one of the most popular shows on BBC TV in HD, and we have staff who wont accept the encoders are not good enough and that the bandwith is not good enough on the current one. The fact Andy Quested said you can get good HD on 6MBPS summed it up really.

    We need people in charge who understands HD and has a passion to bring the best quality available. It needs staff who wont just say look at the good comments regarding wimbledon. What about the comments which say the encoders are struggling with moment???

    THE BANDWITH REDUCTION 18 MTHS or so ago saw a reduction in quality and no one has had the guts from the BBC to admit this.

    Its time for change at BBC HD and fast.

    Oh and also no comments yet on Championship football in HD. If you are not going to show these in HD then why the hell did the BBC bid for the rights.

    New BBC HD Staff please.

  • Comment number 39.

    I meant the "Head of BBC HD" in my last post.

  • Comment number 40.

    Me again - well you did ask us our opinions. Wallander, which for some strange reason I missed 1st time round, is exactly the sort of thing that I want to watch in HD! You yourself raised it as a fine example of HD programming in your recent speach. So why on earth was it just repeated on BBC4, whilst the HD channel had Jonathon Ross followed by the Preview (again) instead. It's not as if you have a policy of not showing repeats, because all the things I don't like in HD are repeated endlessly. And given a choice of seeing HD versions of Jonathon Ross gloating (with his immense salary) on his show every week or the Wallander series repeated, I'd go for the latter everytime.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ Atraindriver. A digital supplement as you describe was proposed in 2000 by Gavyn Davies. The £24 digital top-up fee was regarded as political suicide. For that reason I think your idea won't be touched with a barge pole. Also you write about the broadband levy, it remains to be seen on that one, I think it'll end up being deeply unpopular.

    @Danielle. Although Wimbledon has been good, it doesn't get you many brownie points, what is really needed is sports (any genre) diversification in HD. It's nice when a good job is done but BBC HD is doing the same sports year after year after year.

  • Comment number 42.

    Wednesday83, are you still around? There's an African film on ITV HD (Red Button) now. On my telly the picture quality from that is stunning. How do their MBPS and encoders compare to the BBC's?

  • Comment number 43.

    Not had a chance to catch the Movie on ITV, but the channels runs off around 10 mbps. Not a huge ammount of bandwith, but the newer encoders can run off lower ammounts of bandwith. ITV PQ generally is quite good, thats when something is shown and they actually dont cock up the broadcast, but thats another story.

    The thing that grates me about the BBC HD staff is they wont admit that the bandwith reduction had an effect on Piture quality when it clearly did. As soon as the bandwith was dropped everyone noticed a drop in quality and BBC HD staff blamed production. yes production has improved recently and with it the overall quality of viewing is better. But its still not what it was. yes, Wimbledon on the whole has looked decent, but with moment the encoders struggle. Particulary with the net.

    The newer encoders used by Sky, CH4 and ITV can have bandwith reduction to about 10-14 mbps without a massive decrease in quality, but when you reduce the old encoders by even just 2mbps, the quality is decreased by quite a lot, evidence supported by the BBC HD channel.

    I just dont understand why the channel cant up the bandwith to 20MBPS until new encoders arrive. It would make the channel stunning. Its not like the channel is using the bandwith for anything else.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for the info, in my opinion the PQ on ITV HD has got an awful lot better very recently. I couldn't tell the difference when I'd pressed the button on the thing they did on islands (with Martin Clunes) but with yesterday's 2 movies I was very impressed.

    Regarding your suggestion, since Danielle is using this particular Blog as a tool for a (very unscientific) survey perhaps she could do another re: bandwidth. If you're correct in stating that there's no reason that she couldn't up the bandwith to 20MBPS then she could arrange a 2 week trial, at that rate, with trial dates announced here in advance. Then all of us on these blogs who care about improving the BBC HD service could give her feedback on our impressions. She and Andy might be right when they state that we wouldn't notice the difference, and I'd be happy to admit it if I couldn't, but if they're wrong then I'm sure we'd all let them know.

  • Comment number 45.

    Re the bandwidth and encoding technology argument above...

    I think there's definitely something in this - a few weeks ago I was able to watch Queens Club Tennis in both BBC HD (Pansonic integrated Freesat TV) and Eurosport HD (Panasonic + SkyHD)on adjacent sets (at John Lewis Kingston, actually!) and no doubt at all that Eurosport's fine detail rendering (scoreboard, net, wear n'tear on the grass playing area) in HD was superior, almost as if it was 'upscaled' BBC...the TVs were pretty much identical.

    LuxeTV.HD (non-Freesat but FTA on Astra) also continually seems to provide better colour depth than BBC HD...

    A Train Driver

  • Comment number 46.

    Bandwidth: I believe the reduction in bandwidth used by BBC HD did reduce perceived picture quality, which has not been recovered by improved codecs.

    I would welcome an experiment of higher bitrates and would post my assessment.

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree too. The problem is BBC staff are touchy on the subject and whenever someone like me or wednesday83 criticise it Andy Quested will say it looks "good". Yes, it does, but good relative to what? Does it look good relative to the things we're comparing to, all things considered. No. Does it look good, sure.

    I don't actually want higher bitrates as if it went upto 20Mbs the BBC would just use this as an excuse not to put a 2nd HD channel on TX50, Astra 2D. What we need is a much better encoder running at 12 even 14Mbs and then we can kick BBC1 Channel Islands and Cambridge off and have 2 HD channels. Go DVB-S2, repeat, get three on.

    peal_geaton, if you want bitrates Mr Linowsat who has even posted on this blog before has a HD bitrate for channels on satellite.

  • Comment number 48.

    Top Gear is probably one of the best produced programs out of BBC London; it has that 'polish' which other programs lack. Real care is put into it.

    I want to know why it takes longer to produce in HD rather than in SD, surely it's just a change of camera and a few more sound channels?

    I don't want to overstep the mark here but how about doing some 3D trail episodes and posting them on-line on the BBC Iplayer so we can watch them whenever we get those 3D glasses from the Cinema, it would be nice to see what 3D TV could look like. You could get feedback on whether it would work.

  • Comment number 49.

    I just wanted to apologise for my criticism of the BBC coverage of Wimbledon regarding the sound level of the co-commentator. It was the sound settings on my TV set which needed adjustment not a fault in the transmission. The controls are rather complex.

    Excellent coverage of today's mens final. Just a shame that someone had to lose a totally absorbing match.

  • Comment number 50.

    Just watching James May's report from America in tonight's episode should be enough justification to film Top Gear in HD, some of the shots in that were spectacular.

  • Comment number 51.

    Many thanks to all of the BBC HD Team involved in the Wimbledon HD coverage. This was a memorable experience of HD pictures and 5.1 sound. The slow-mo videos and shots of London, Wimbledon locals, Sunsets and the Moon added to the experience.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ paul_geaton ".....although I can't stand the idea of having to pay an Australian multi-millionaire for the privelge of doing so and consequently, thus far, I've resisted getting Sky...."

    Just go for it, you know it makes sense and you only live once!! Remember Mr Murdoch and his family only own about 11% of BSkyB.

  • Comment number 53.

    @paul_geaton post 34. It is a myth that BBC HD programmes have to be 100% HD. The requirement is 75%. Also I disagree about the studio bits. They might not have a lot going on but darkly lit areas or studios can benefit massively from HD. I've often read this to mean the studio would be shot in HD and a few of the very fast split second minor cameras may be HD. I'm unsure of the total % of studio time on top gear, with not shooting the studio bits in HD you raise an interesting point.

    @post 52. Can you not blatently go round promoting Sky on someone else's blog that has nothing to do with it. You do it perfectly well on a forum you frequent.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's very simple. A superb show like Top Gear deserves to be enjoyed with the best image quality available today.

  • Comment number 55.

    Top Gear has some incredible cinematography and watching this in HD would further enhance this.

  • Comment number 56.

    My 3 Reasons TG should be in HD.

    1) I think the main reason TG should be in HD is that most of the viewing audience (young to middle aged people) are the same demographic that are more than likely have a full HD viewing platform (not just a HD ready TV thinking they're watching HD).

    2) TG would really benefit from the HD treatment. During reviews you'd get a more deatailed look at the quality of the finishing on the car on the int and ext shots.

    3) The target audience more likely to watch TG than say Last of the Summer Wine (which is/was already in HD).

  • Comment number 57.

    @50 I have to agree, James May's report would have looked absolutely stunning in HD. Was it filmed in HD then downscaled to SD? It might just be my aging eyes but the picture quality of that report seemed better than the rest of the show on my V+ box.

    Ignoring the content, the production values of the show alone should be reaon enough to go HD. Few other shows work as hard to make sure the end product looks spectacular, and that doesn't include the cars. The locations, camera work, lighting, effects etc all produce a visually stunning program that just happens to have a car in it now and again.

  • Comment number 58.

    i watch top gear twice a week once alone and the next day after with my bros here in the us my ps3 and my computer support hd which are the two gateways to top gear as of now so why wouldnt we watch this amazing show in detail obviously this current series is already filmed but upscaling is easy please do so it is well worth our bandwith which us in the us thankfully have not been limited thankfully :}

  • Comment number 59.

    TopGear is one of the most popular shows on the BBC, it is also one of the best thought out and fantastically filmed programmes broadcast too and that is why it deserves to be in HD.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think it's a great shame that a show as perfectly shot as TopGear doesn't get HD transmission. Segments like last nights Ken Block segment would look epic in HD. While I do enjoy wildlife shows, I do think it's time a series of TopGear was at least given an HD trial.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm frankly surprised to find out that we must supply a reason for Top Gear in HD. One of the most well framed, shot, and edited shows on BBC, not to mention one of the most popular. Let alone the subject matter, which often contains breathtaking locations and exotic vehicles. On top of that I view it on a 106" projection screen, where the differences between SD and HD become glaring. So, pretty please, with ribbon on top, can we have Top Gear in HD?

  • Comment number 62.

    A. A. Gil says: "Just look at Top Gear (Sunday, BBC2) as art. As light and movement and sound. Watch it as pure TV, as brilliance. It is a triumph of the craft of programme-making, of the minute, obsessive, musical masonry of editing, the french polishing of colourwashing and grading."


    And we all agree... Who else wouldn't want to see that episode with the Alfa 8C was in glorious HD.

  • Comment number 63.

    Top Gear, whilst being hilarious and popular, is, on several occasions, actually beautiful (one of the most artistically-shot programmes on the Beeb), and, for that reason, would benefit immensely from being shot in HD the Polar Special is a great example of this.

  • Comment number 64.

    Just like everyone here already mentioned: Top Gear would look even more amazing and HD quality would underline the great production (yesterday's episode again had some amazing shots in it where I wished I could've enjoyed them in the best possible quality).

  • Comment number 65.

    As benmoorhouse88 pointed out films such as the Ken Block one last night demonstrate why Top Gear should go HD.

    Top Gear's big races are as cinematic as you can get usually with fantastic soundtrack imagine that in HD with DD 5.1 sound. The Polar Special was superb and showed conclusively that Top Gear only benefits from HD.

    Top Gear (I doubt the BBC would want to acknowledge the fact even if the Top Gear team do) is constantly one of the most pirated TV shows in the world and should be a showcase. You are launching BBC HD internationally and a show that is a brand in it's own right would be a perfect fit.

    If you do go HD ensure the budget is adjusted accordingly we don't want HD pictures but a reduction the production values to cover any increase in costs!

  • Comment number 66.

    Reiterating pauljarvis86, last night's Top Gear report with James in America is the perfect response to the question "What it is about Top Gear that means you really want to watch it in HD?".

    Some of the slow motion shots would have looked spectacular had it been broadcast in HD.

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree with many of the comments, that with cinematography as good as it is in Top Gear, the benefit of that show being in HD must be far higher than shows such as Michael McIntyre, Jonathan Ross etc, which although popular rely much less on their visuals. I actually can't help feeling that some of the effort that goes into Top Gear is lost because it isn't in HD.

  • Comment number 68.

    Isn't "Top Gear" one of the BBS's biggest selling shows worldwide?

    I would have thought commerical reasons alone would have made it a no-brainer to produce it in HD.

    As almost every response has said so far, the show has such well constructed shots/sequences etc, with high artistic creation involved in those sequences, that it even attracts viewers who are not "car nuts" to view it. (OK the humourous tone from the presenters works in it's favour too!)

    I'm guessing that only those that do not watch as "it is only a boring car show" would need to ask why it should be in HD.

  • Comment number 69.

    Post 68 is very right and this has been brought up before. Not shooting Top Gear in HD is losing massive amounts of revenue for the BBC through it's commercial arm in the future. Not only sales to the US and elsewhere in HD, but also future blu-ray sales abroad, future blu-ray sales here and future revenue from the UKTV channels. Top Gear in HD would probably feature for years to come on repeats on such channels in HD form. Not having it would likely result in lower advertising revenue and fees paid to carry the channels on various platforms. The same is also true, perhaps even to a greater extent with Doctor Who.

  • Comment number 70.

    Just to add to the torrent of comments about Top Gear. We had five people (25-30) round at our house last night. The most technophobic one of the lot (she's only just started buying DVD's) turned to me and said:

    "I love this program. It's so pretty. Why don't they do it in HD?"

    The rally car practice sequence with May looking like he was about to die would have been amazing on BBC HD.

  • Comment number 71.

    I would think that having a program that has rewatchability, global popularity (youtube ranking on clips as a legal indicator of this), future proofing, advertisement of bbc hd, a program to test the filming in HD with the way the show is filmed in. Also thinking that rather, whether the show should be filmed in HD, it's when, as inevitable that all the top shows will be in HD. Top Gear is a top ratings show, right?

  • Comment number 72.

    Showing opera and ballet in HD is a "no brainer" but you failed to do so with 'Manon', 'Acis and Galatea' and 'Dido and Aneas' recently. Wimbledon in HD was terrific because you could see so many more faces in the crowd and also the line judges and ball-boys and girls. The human face is the most interesting thing you can see. All progammes are enhanced by being shown in HD but some more than others. It's a question of aesthetics.

  • Comment number 73.

    Well to be honest, it's shockingly obvious why it needs to be shown in HD, and elaborating further would insult anyones intelligence.

  • Comment number 74.

    You only had to watch last night's episode(05/07/09) of topgear where james may was a passenger in the rally car, the slow motion clips would have looked fantastic in hd.

  • Comment number 75.

    I agree with comments posted by others, that whilst Top Gear would be great in HD, it is not the only programme that would benefit from the HD format.

    Given the BBC stance on delivering ever-increasing quantities of HD broadcast content, would they consider taking a live feed from NASA HDTV during active space missions. There is currently no method of receiving their HD content within Europe and I am sure that such content would be very well received by the audience. I dare say that the cost of taking this feed would be minimal due to the nature of the source and I am sure NASA would relish the opportunity to have partner in Europe to enable their content to be aired on.

    In general HD terms, I state again what I have already written on the More In Store On BBC HD blog; There is a mass audience out here just waiting to soak up everything HD you can throw at us. Think of us as a great big HD Sponge.


  • Comment number 76.

    TG in HD - of course the BBC should - of all the programmes the BBC puts out it would be the one to gain the most from sucha decision. Detailed items already covered by other posters - my 1080p 46in TV agrees too.

  • Comment number 77.

    HD is great whenever there is something on screen that you want to see in all its glory. Not, I'm not talking about porn movies, but just like people watching soccer want to follow the footwork of the players and see exactly where the ball is, followers of Top Gear want to see gorgeous cars in all their glory.

    The camera work of Top Gear is already beyond excellent, so it seems almost natural for the image to be HD.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ Ropies "Can you not blatently go round promoting Sky on someone else's blog that has nothing to do with it. You do it perfectly well on a forum you frequent."

    This is the blog for BBC HD, which if you didn't know is platform neutral.

    The more viewers/License payers who get HD and BBC HD the better for everyone of us, as HD budgets can be increased. Don't forget the vast majority of BBC HD viewers watch it through Sky HD. We know Andy Quested watches BBC HD at home via Sky and no doubt Danielle Nagler does as well. Sky is driving HD in the UK and BBC HD can only benefit on the back of this.

  • Comment number 79.

    Imagine my horror when I returned home yesterday to find that my HD+ box had ended the recording of the Mens Wimbledon final at 8 games to 7 in the final set.

    How/why did this happen? surely BBC should have realised that many people were recording the Final because of other commitments!!

    What do you have to say about it BBC??

  • Comment number 80.

    Top Gear is the best shot show on the BBC. It has the best cinematography and deserves to be filmed in HD.

  • Comment number 81.

    This series begs to be broadcast in High Definition.

    The footage is characteristically fast and vibrant. The editing is top notch. The fan base is world wide. Enough said really.

  • Comment number 82.

    So Danielle, I think you've been told now. When will we get it?

  • Comment number 83.

    Quite simply Top Gear is one of your top watched programmes. To be taken seriously and have its profile hightened top programmes need to be on HD. The Apprentice should be another must for the next series. As Andy says HD also improves the SD picture so its a win win situation. Wimbledon & Glastonbury were fantastic, an HD delight. Both show you can produce live versions and quickly also output highlights. why cant all this capabilty be used to give us The Open Championship this year in HD I am sure numerous countries would take a HD feed from you, any firm news on 2010 yet. Are different encoders used for different programmes? Torchwood tonight looks stunning.
    Any news on the Championship games yet? Please dont let HD fall into more repeats after the delights of Wimbledon, July's schedule so far looks poor apart from Torchwood this week.

  • Comment number 84.


    I wonder if BBC would have to pay the actors/presenters more if broadcast in HD??? Funny how the top shows people want dont get HD. Casualty, Eastenders, Top Gear, Championship football and so forth.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm not a UK resident, but watch Top Gear on BBC America. I know that BBC America HD is coming on July 20th, so Top Gear HD would be great with that! I just got a great HDTV and would love to enjoy Top Gear using it to its fullest. Thanks a lot for reading this!

  • Comment number 86.

    Wednesday83, I'm not sure that I agree that just because a show is top-rated it should be shown in HD. I just checked the BARB figures and I can't believe the rubbish that the majority of people seem to prefer to watch. In fact, there's a channel called Challenge TV+1 that gets more viewers than BBC HD does. The number of soaps in the top 30 of each channel is also quite staggering, not to say bewildering. No, I think that after looking at the stats I'd be happier if BBC HD continues to promise "the best of the BBC" over ratings winners. I guess that Danielle asking us what programmes we want to see in HD, and what qualities make them preferable for inclusion in the schedule, will actually help her to select the best for us. And, to my mind, that's got to be Top Gear over Totally Saturday any day of the week.

  • Comment number 87.

    It's just occurred to me that apart from the Wimbledon coverage, which was excellent by the way, we have not watched BBC HD for some months.

    The novelty of watching programmes that we would not normally watch, simply because they were are in HD, wore off a long time ago (and we went HD for the 2006 World Cup via Telewest as was). Three years on and the service has barely changed. Very disappointing.

    It's time for the BBC to stop picking the low-hanging fruit and reach higher. Far higher!

  • Comment number 88.

    Fairly obvious isn't it? Top Gear is the most popular show on the Beeb and also features stunning visuals - why put Hotel Babylon in HD and not TG?

  • Comment number 89.

    Why do I want Top Gear in HD?

    Because some of the images/sequences the TG team manage to produce are absolutely stunning and the match of anything currently on BBC HD.

    Or, to put in another way:

    Gardeners World - Plants that can be grown in your very own garden - 2 million viewers - HD
    Top Gear - Exotic machinery that most of us can only dream of owning - 8 million viewers - SD


  • Comment number 90.

    We really dont need to see Prince Charles giving the 2009 Richard Dimbleby Lecture scheduled for Wednesday 8 July. This should remain confined to BBC1.

    Please stop this lazy programme scheduling on BBC HD and replace it with something like wildlife which can truly benefit from HD.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think going forward the BBC should make sure that Top Gear, The new series based around only fools and horses,The apprentice and Live Championship football all should all be in HD. I personally think that if BBC only show the football in SD that will be totally unacceptable and that viewers would be whithin their rights to file formal complaints to the BBC trust as obviously they have invested money in the contracts and also most large outside broadcast equipment and providers are fully HD now.

  • Comment number 92.

    After enjoying the high quality HD broadcasts from Wimbledon, I am amazed to find nothing in repect of broadcasting The Open Golf in HD. Can this be so, 2 weeks of total saturation in HD for tennis and nothing for the world's greatest golf tournament, surely this cannot be? Please reassure me as a new blogger that I have made a mistake.

  • Comment number 93.

    The sound of the cars on Top Gear would be so much better in HD!

  • Comment number 94.

    Varoooooom, I know what you mean but for Danielle's benefit I think you should say "The sound of the cars on Top Gear would be so much better in DD 5.1 Surround Sound", otherwise we might end up just getting the show in stereo on BBC HD which would be a missed opportunity. I say this because I notice Danielle didn't mention Surround Sound once in her recent Keynote speech, in fact I don't think she talks about it much at all in her blogs so I don't think the provision of 5.1 is a default consideration. The only occasion I recall a mention of it from her was in a direct response to a question from me about why the HD rugby wasn't also in 5.1. Happy to be corrected if I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 95.

    Sorry to go off topic but, by the way, on the show that's on BBC HD now I'm getting a very good picture and great sound too; so credit where it's due. A shame it's a load of twaddle. Is it meant to be for teenage boys (at this hour)?

  • Comment number 96.

    Top Gear is one of those programmes that will look spectacular in HD. A lot of people on here are talking about the 5.1 sound quality which is superb, however, HD is more about the picture quality.

    Top Gear is a programme which is put together with as much care for the visual image as something like Planet Earth. The shots are as carefully crafted as the workings of a Swiss watch and then put together to produce something which is visually superb. And thats just the programme in SD. Now imagine what it would be like in HD and you will see why this is definitly a programme that needs to be made and shown in HD. This is especially so when it comes to the Top Gear specials where there is the added benefit of some stunning scenery.

    There is also one other thing. With around 8 million viewers, they must be doing something right!

  • Comment number 97.

    Silly question and hard to give AN answer - to not reiterate previous points, I want to see those amazing shirt patterns...

    Seriously, the cinematography (or should that be TV-ography) is always good, both landscape and car-wise and could only benefit from the added resolution of HD.

    Mind you, what do Clarkson/May/Hammond really look like under the HD spotlight....

  • Comment number 98.

    I have enjoyed a lot of HD content since getting my 50 Panasonic last year. It would be the icing on the cake if F1 was in HD.

    Please lose all DOGs. I have a nice big clear picture contaminated by a DOG in the corner.

  • Comment number 99.

    "Top Gear is one of those programmes that will look spectacular in HD. A lot of people on here are talking about the 5.1 sound quality which is superb, however, HD is more about the picture quality."

    I disagree with this statement completely. HD for me is about the high definition experience - both video & audio.

  • Comment number 100.

    Off topic - sorry

    but can you not get the blog headers to show the date/time of the latest post, so we know if the thread is still active.

    I dont suppose you want to let users start their own threads - I am sure this would become more active if we could.

    re post 92 - apparently the Open is not on HD - I haven't bought Freesat yet, (I have sky fta). Wimbledon made me think it would be a good idea, and I naturally assumed the Open would be on .....


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