It may have been dark and damp but Blackpool is hoping for some glowing publicity from Top Gear’s trip to the seaside.
Presenters Chris Evans and Matt Le Blanc were welcomed for a weekend’s filming by Blackpool’s Mayor Coun Peter Callow and the town crier Barry McQueen.
The episode was meant to introduce Hollywood star Le Blanc to the joys of the UK seaside and for Blackpool to play host to some light-hearted US versus UK competition.
Mayor Peter Callow said it was wonderful for the BBC team to have chosen Blackpool.
He said: “Obviously the weather was horrendous on Saturday morning but we did our best and the producers seemed pleased with the filming.
“It is great for Blackpool to be chosen for such a high profile filming event like this.
It is great for Blackpool to be chosen for such a high profile filming event like this
“I welcomed Matt to the UK but I said to Chris I don’t have to welcome you to Blackpool, you were here 10 years ago to turn the Illuminations on.
“He was wonderful then, he spoke to so many people in the crowd and he was wonderful this time too.
“Both he and Matt were lovely, friendly and very kind.”
He said his role was to read out a series of challenges for the stars to take on.
The crew filmed time trials of a Landrover versus an American Jeep, a tug of war on the beach and various stunts involving a rugby team, an American football team and some drag queens.
On the Friday they had spent 13 hours driving to Blackpool from London in Reliant Robin three-wheeler cars.
Coun Callow said: “I don’t know if they will use the bits that I was in, I was soaked to the skin through the mayoral robes and my hair was plastered down but if I end up on the cutting room floor that’s fine, it was fun.
“They asked me to read out a welcome saying ‘Welcome to the finest city in the country.’
“I said to them it isn’t a city it’s a town but they said for them it was a city.
“We had to shoot things many times over, the directors kept coming up with new ideas as they went along.
“After the filming I was heading back to the car and Matt Le Blanc came after me in the rain and tapped me on the shoulder and said I had done really well. He was so kind and so was Chris Evans.”
Town crier Barry McQueen was called upon to start each of the challenges for the Top Gear duo.
He said: “It was fantastic! To think they have come here to film Top Gear with all these things it was brilliant for the town. Great publicity even though the weather was shocking.
“I wish more people would do the same.
“What a nice pair Chris Evans and Matt Le Blanc are.
“I was there from 9.30am in the morning to about 5.30pm. But they looked after us and we went to the Albert and the Lion for breaks. I had to start the races off and there were cameras all over the place. I also had to blow my trumpet fanfare.
“I asked Chris why he had chosen Blackpool and he said, ‘Blackpool is the Vegas of the North!’
“It was great fun despite the weather, but that’s the British spirit isn’t it? We make the best of things.”