Fifth Gear/Series 1

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5th Gear: Series 1
The original 5th Gear team in late 2001.
The original 5th Gear team in late 2001.
Episodes 11
Originally aired 08/04/2002 - 17/06/2002
Original network Channel 5
Resolution 576i
Aspect ratio 16:9 Widescreen
Uncut length 244:16
Superceded by Series 2 (2002)

The first series of Fifth Gear premiered in the United Kingdom on the 8th April, 2002, and concluded on the 17th June, 2002, after a run of 11 episodes. The series' main host was Tiff Needell, and he was accompanied by Vicki Butler-Henderson, Quentin Willson and Adrian Simpson as co-presenters. The series was produced at Fifth Gear's original offices in Birmingham, and aired on Channel 5 in a 23-minute magazine format. Series 1 attracted an average viewership rating of 1.13 million viewers per episode, with a peak of 1.35 million viewers for Episode 8, and a low of 0.99 million viewers for Episode 9. Note that this is based on only partially-available ratings, with 4 of the 11 aired episodes falling outside the BARB's weekly Top 30 for Channel 5.

Highlights of 5th Gear's inaugural series include lead host Needell driving several exotic supercars, such as the Lamborghini Murciélago and Pagani Zonda, as well as breaking the first of several records Fifth Gear would either break or set; the fastest ever recorded 0-60 time, which Needell would achieve[1] in a Tiger Z100 kit car, setting a time of 2.9 seconds against the then-previously standing record held by a Ford RS200. At the end of the series, Tiff, along with Vicki, would participate in a 2 hour long endurance race in a Radical sports car.

International broadcasts[edit | edit source]

Series 1 of 5th Gear began airing[2] in the United States on the Speed Channel in July 2004, more than two years after its initial broadcast in the UK. The programme would then subsequently be picked up by Viasat for its Explorer television service, which then broadcast Fifth Gear throughout the entire Eastern Bloc from August[3] 2004, one month after it was picked up in the US. The first series would be sold to these countries alongside the subsequent five in a block comprised of 48 programmes, which would then constantly repeat all the way through to June 2007.

International version[edit | edit source]

Main article: International version
When the programme began airing internationally, the episodes were resampled and rearranged, most likely to better appeal to non-British viewers and shortening the series down to just 9 episodes. This meant films from other episodes were placed earlier in the series to replace certain films, particularly those that were largely irrelevant to a wider viewerbase, such as reports exclusively concerning the United Kingdom. This resampling was not disclosed upon its sale to these countries, and this led to quite some confusion during the early days of internet-based file sharing.

References[edit | edit source]