SBS sets Oz version of 'Top Gear'


SYDNEY -- Australian broadcaster SBS will be the first broadcaster outside the U.K. to make its own version of the BBC's hugely popular motoring entertainment series "Top Gear."

Under a deal announced Monday, SBS will air a local version of the show in 2008 and gets all future episodes of the British version for the life of the series.

Along with "Mythbusters," "Top Gear" is one of SBS' highest-rated programs, drawing more than 700,000 viewers for first-run episodes.

SBS content chief Matt Campbell said that, in localizing the show, the network "won't simply replicate the U.K. series with an Australian version of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond or James May. SBS plans to make a program that is uniquely and quintessentially Australian."

"Top Gear" Australia will be produced by Freehand Prods. -- a local production company in which BBC Worldwide took a 25% stake earlier this year.