'Top Gear' Creator Derek Smith Dies at 87

Courtesy of History

The former BBC producer devised the hit motoring show in 1977.

Derek Smith, the BBC producer who created the broadcaster’s hit show Top Gear, has died. He was 87.

Having worked with the BBC since 1967, starting with the program Farming, Smith went on to produce documentaries covering the armed forces, football, travel, history and politics.

But it was in 1977 when he reportedly looked out across the car park at the BBC’s former Pebble Mill Studios that he came up with the idea for a motoring show, devising the name "Top Gear" and the format. Smith continued working on the show as a series producer until 1986. Almost 30 years on and Top Gear is the BBC’s most successful franchise, despite recent controversies, and holds the Guinness World Record for most watched factual TV show, having been licensed to more than 200 international territories. 

"He was a character, with a sense of fun, yet a serious determination that he had a duty to tell interesting stories in stimulating ways," Smith’s son Graham Smith wrote in an obituary in The Guardian.