'Top Gear' Italy Coming to Sky

Issue 54 - Reviews: Top Gear
Courtesy of History

A test Top Gear called Snake vs. Snake raced a Dodge Viper against a Cobra attack helicopter.

Sky Italia's Sky Uno has licensed the BBC motoring show for a 2016 launch.

Italian pay TV platform Sky Italia has licensed the BBC’s popular motoring show Top Gear for its Sky Uno channel and will make a local version in 2016.

Italy, the land of luxury speed cars, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, is a natural fit for the stunt-filled show, which is undergoing changes following the firing of U.K. host Jeremy Clarkson.

Automobile journalist Guido Meda and restaurant entrepreneur and car enthusiast Joe Bastianich will host the Italian version of the show. A third host has yet to be announced. Sony Pictures Television’s Toro Media will produce.

"We know that Top Gear already has a strong and established presence in Italy with the original U.K. series and the magazine proving hugely popular," said Tobi de Graaff, executive vp of Western Europe at BBC Worldwide in a statement. "Adding a local version to the mix in a country steeped in motoring history will be fantastic for Italian audiences."

"Top Gear brings together great entertainment with passion and competence for cars and speed, a perfect mix for our subs, that I am confident it will be even more successful thanks to the talent of Joe and Guido," added Sky Italia executive vp Andrea Scrosati.

The Italian announcement follows the launch of a local version in France. French network RMC drew its biggest audience for a show ever when the series debuted earlier this year.

Top Gear's U.K. version has been licensed to more than 230 territories globally, with local versions also being produced in Australia, China, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. In Italy, the U.K. version currently airs on DMAX, a Discovery channel.

Sky Italia is part of pan-European pay TV giant Sky, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake.

Earlier this year, British TV and radio personality Chris Evans was unveiled as the new host of Top Gear in the U.K., replacing Clarkson who was ousted after punching a producer.