Here are a bunch of new articles from various sources...
Richard Hammond has always been a likeable bloke. But when that 280mph jet-powered dragster crash almost killed him three years ago, he suddenly became a national treasure.
An outpouring of support and well wishes flooded in from all over the UK - quite something for the host of a car show with a supposedly niche audience.
Richard is the down-to-earth kind that everyone wants to see doing well. While many of his fellow TV types swan around thinking the world owes them not only a living but unlimited adulation, the Hamster is one of us made good. He's carved a career out of talking to us about stuff he loves - and making us love it, too.
But Richard admits he still doesn't take his success for granted, wondering if it will all go horribly wrong tomorrow. He's the everyman mingling with the stars at the glam party, the mate who hit big. Endearingly, he seems to worry he will be found and kicked out at any moment.
He said: "I'm conscious of being very lucky. I've been freelance for 20 years and anyone in that position will tell you it takes a long time to lose the fear of thinking, 'When this job ends, I don't have one - what will I do? To a degree, I still have that. I could fall out of favour tomorrow easily so I can't sit back and assume I am secure forever.
"The moment you lose that bit of fear and nerves, you become complacent and risk everything.
"The people I feel sorry for are those who are suddenly cast into the public eye because they will lead the life as it is perceived to be lead.
"I have ground away for 20 years, working my way up, so am always slightly more aware of the fact it can go the other way very fast.
"But if it is suddenly landed in your lap, you think that's it, you've made it. These people think it is their right, their life and suddenly it is not there any more. Now what?
"If I were staying up late, going out drinking, thinking this is my life, it can all disappear very quickly and what do you do then?
"It's like when kids ask what it's like to be famous - I think of other people as being famous and I'm somehow tagging along. For me that's healthy. When you start to believe in it, it becomes risky."
Of course, we all got to know The Hamster on Top Gear, the show that changed the notion of how motoring could be presented on TV.
With Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Richard created a TV show that is really just three blokes indulging in their passions.
Such is their knack for interesting us in what appeals to them that they changed the demographic of who watches car shows. No longer is it just blokes called Nigel who rebuild mopeds and old bangers in their garages. Old, young, male and female fans tune in to Top Gear every week.
No wonder Richard is quick to dismiss speculation the show has come to an end.
He said: "It's not the end, absolutely not. There will be an end, of course, but not right now. We are in the process of making our 14th series.We are still there.
"Top Gear will forever be close to my heart because it changed things so much for me.
"There is a love affair with cars. My grandfather was a coach builder and built cars the proper, old-fashioned way so I have always been interested in how they work. I got into car telly on satellite and eventually moved to Top Gear.
"It's a tremendous show to be involved in. None of us foresaw it would be so huge. There was no cynical artifice in the creation of it. We sat down and agreed to make the car show we wanted to make. It just happened it found an audience and became enormous.
"I can't imagine how it would feel to end it - it is so much of my life. I'm not thinking about it yet.
"It's just amazing. We got to do a world tour. It was brilliant. I'm not sure about rock star fantasies - we had a lot of tea. And some crisps.
"I turned up for the start of it on crutches. I was trying to do more family things, so went totry out a horse and it threw me off. All the fast cars and bikes and one horsepower was enough to land me on crutches before the tour even started. The promoters were not entirely thrilled."
And Richard has become a star of kids' TV. His show Blast Lab has become a big hit, with grand experiments and madcap challenges making him a firm favourite among kids - not least his own.
"Blast Lab is possibly my favourite thing to do as I have been involved from the beginning. It is very rewarding and I'm immensely proud of it. Kids are particularly discerning. While they want to have fun and do silly stuff, there has to be some excuse, some justification.
"It's great doing something my kids really appreciate. It is also useful having them to bounce ideas off and see what other kids go for. They come along to the sets and love it when we are out on location with the Lab Rats.
"As a kid, I was always fascinated with chemistry sets and telescopes but, as I got older, I realised I liked writing and painting. I thought you couldn't like those and science and moved away from it. I was very wrong, look at people like Leonardo da Vinci, a man who could paint a bit and was also an incredible thinker and inventor.
"It's not about educating kids in the hope of producing the next generation of scientists as much as it is about saying to them, 'Look, it's there, it's really interesting stuff.'" Richard also hosts Engineering Connections and Total Wipeout, which could not be futher apart in subject matter. The first looks at great engineering feats, the second has people flinging themselves around an obstacle course. But, for Richard, they are connected.
"I love the variety of what I do but I'm really working to ensure there is a common thread between them all. I hope there is an honesty about them. What I don't enjoy is doing programmes masquerading as factual TV where you have to try andmake it entertaining because the facts aren't strong enough in their own right - in other words it becomes my opinion about them. I don't want tomake that sort of thing.
"Blast Lab is about getting kids interested in science - that's where the fun comes from. At the press launch of Engineering Connections, one of the very high-ups from the channel introduced me as the star of the show. I said, 'Thank you but I'm not, the stars are the facts.'
"I'm not standing there telling you what I think about them. I just say, 'Look how amazing this is' and tell you a little bit more about it, which makes it even more amazing.
"At the other end of the scale is Total Wipeout, which is just plain old good fun. It's not about winning a million pounds to change your life - lots of people like their lives, they just want to pay off the credit cards and have a little holiday. That's why the prize is £10,000. It's open to everyone who is prepared to have a go.
"I'm rather old school as a TV presenter. I am one of the tools on the rack alongside the camera, the microphone and the director, who controls all of us. What I don't do is tell you what I feel about it. I am not a columnist on TV.
"If you need someone to stand there and explain things, that's me and I love it. I am not a TV personality, I am a presenter."
Richard also sees himself spending more time off camera, developing programmes for his production company Hamster's Wheel.
He said: "I'd love to keep presenting but I'll slow down. I don't know how much of my ugly mush I will put on TV. I'll increase the amount of time I spend on programmes I like but without me onscreen."
It would be understandable if Richard wanted to slow down, given his well-publicised brush with death back in 2006. And while he admits the experience has changed him, you get the sense he also refuses to let it prey on his mind.
He said: "I would be lying if I said it didn't change my attitude to the stunts. It changed things in subtle ways. I learned that things can go wrong. It made me appreciate life more.
"I am getting better at getting home at night because I want to spend time with my daughters and my wife Mindy. It's the sensible thing to do."
Source: Daily Record
A MAN famed for saying nothing arrived in Dublin yesterday and did exactly that.
But the presence of the silent Stig carried a message likely to excite petrolheads across the land: the Top Gear Live world tour is coming back to Ireland.
The Stig – along with his colleagues from the BBC series, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May – is returning to the RDS in Dublin from December 3rd-6th with a show which they are certain will set the adrenaline pumping.
Flaming rally cars, underground street racing, a hall of fame featuring everything from Ferraris to Nissans and an attempt to drive a car through a loop-the-loop are among the feats promised by the Top Gear crew.
The apparently fearless Stig will – through a mixture of hand gestures, sonic pulses and Morse code – lead a team of international stunt drivers through a series of daredevil challenges and will also demonstrate the precision driving which has made his white racing helmet and boiler suit famous.
The Top Gear Live programme also features a display of iconic cars, interactive games, an attempt to rebuild a 1948 Ferguson tractor and Scalextric and Lego competitions for the junior members of the audience.
Organisers say the audience will witness an eye-popping 92,160sq ft of fireballs and have their senses assaulted by decibel levels that reach 104 on the scale.
Some 49,000 people attended the show in Dublin last year and Clarkson said he was hopeful the Irish crowd would appreciate what they had to offer in 2009.
“I am looking forward to returning to Dublin with our spectacular new show,” he said.
“Once again we’ve taken the best bits of Top Gear and will be attempting them live in the arena. It’s ambitious, but I’m sure it will work out well.”
When asked about his hopes for the show, the Stig, unsurprisingly, declined to comment – much to the delight of one young fan.
“He’s so cool,” the boy said.
“Because he never ever says anything.”
Source: Irish Times