Following the phenomenal success of the 2008 Top Gear Live tour, for which we provided an integrated package that included complex automation and artistic interpretation, we were asked to construct a completely new set for a brand new show taking in London’s Earls Court, Birmingham NEC and Dublin. This show format then visited audiences in New Zealand and Australia, playing to many thousands of Top Gear fans. Working with production manager Simon Aldridge and designer Paul Bonomini, we provided a 25m wide flown spider frame that formed a functional and dramatic backdrop to the entire performance, along with various other elements that made good use of our diverse facilities.
THE SPIDER FRAME
The flown ‘spider frame’ consisted of around 90 individual panels, each one a different shape or size, arranged around a central seven metre donut frame that formed a backdrop to a ‘loop-the-loop’ stunt. Configured in a radial ‘spider’s web’ pattern, the panels were constructed from metal frames clad with either steel mesh, polycarbonate or solid aluminium sheets. A tunnel was set into the frame at floor level on one side to form an entrance for presenters and various cars, whilst to the other side, a 4m wide raised void provided access to a further stunt car performance area. This area utilised one of our scissor lifts, raising the vehicle up to access an elevated performance platform.
OVENS, TUNNELS AND CRANES
Our spray-bake facilities, often used for high gloss and high spec finishes on a variety of scenic elements, sculptures and FRP items, were used to spray cars for the first time. We custom painted the Stig’s two range buggies and recreated a well-worn ‘Mad Max’ style finish on a specially adapted Porsche, Capri and Escort, achieving unique and highly successful results. We also provided two six metre long, four metre diameter movable tunnels for a car colour-changing stunt. Built on castors, the tunnels consisted of steel frame sections covered with 3mm clear acrylic, allowing the audience to witness a car drive in and – thanks to specialist paint and heated gas blowers – change colour before their eyes.
Other elements included building a ‘roof off’ crane and a ‘Dunlop Arch’. The one and a half metre high crane was constructed from heavy steel with a crane arm that pivoted out and locked at 90º, taking off the roofs of stunt cars as they passed. The ‘Dunlop Arch’ header was constructed from steel and ply cladding with four tyre stacks to either side. We also constructed various props including themed traffic islands and a pair of oversized microphones.