SBS in 'Gear' for another season

BBC show gets second run in Australia

SYDNEY -- Australian multicultural broadcaster SBS said Wednesday that it has commissioned a second season of "Top Gear Australia" after solid ratings for its first edition.

The debut episode of Season 1 of "Top Gear Australia," the local version of the popular U.K. show about cars, drew a SBS record of 933,000 viewers, while the next three episodes drew an average 723,000 viewers despite criticism from fans that it did not live up to the British original.

"Massive congratulations from the 'Top Gear' boys in England on your Australian version. We're loving it, even though your funny accents make you hard to understand," said Jeremy Clarson, host of the original version in the U.K.

Australia is the first territory outside the U.K. to produce a localized version of the BBC series. The local version was produced by SBS and Freehand.

Last week, BBC Worldwide announced that a Russian "Top Gear" will be made for private broadcaster REN TV. In the U.S., NBC will air its own version in 2009.