'Top Gear' to launch U.S. version in fall


"Top Gear" is crossing the pond. History is teaming with BBC Worldwide Prods. to launch a U.S. version of the series in the fall.

The network has made a 10-episode commitment to "Gear," which showcases all things automotive: customization, stunts, reviews and auto-centric celebrity interviews.

History's "Gear" will be hosted by comedian and "Rescue Me" co-star Adam Ferrara, stunt driver Tanner Foust and racing analyst Rutledge Wood. Scott Messick will executive produce.

"The history of the automobile and the history of America are intimately intertwined -- to celebrate one is to celebrate the other," History president and GM Nancy Dubuc said. "We'll stay true to the original format and add a sense of the American car culture."

"Gear" fits the History brand even better than one might expect. The first program to air on what then was called the History Channel was "Automobiles: Corvette." Car-related content has performed well on the channel; History had several auto-related pilots in the works when it got "Gear."

"Gear" premiered in 1977 in the U.K. then relaunched in 2002 as a studio-based format. It is BBC 2's most-watched program, and the brand has spun off a magazine and road tour. NBC came close to doing a U.S. version in 2008.

BBC Worldwide executive vp programming and production Jane Tranter said the U.S. version has the potential to be bigger than the original.

"It will have a completely different landscape," she said. "There's a different relationship with cars in the U.S. and a fascination with customization that's much greater than in the U.K. There's the potential for the U.S. 'Top Gear' to have even greater traction with an audience."

Got tips on TV-industry news? Contact Hollywood Reporter TV Editor James Hibberd at james.hibberd@thr.com
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