Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki


Richard and Jeremy in disguise


Boys in Burkas - Top Gear - BBC

The Top Gear Middle East Special was the 2010 Christmas special of Top Gear in which Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond took the roles of the Three Wise Men and traveled to Bethlehem. However along the way, there were complications involving Border Control and the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the end Baby Jesus was depicted by The Stig.


The presenters are challenged to re-enact the journey of the Three Wise Men by traveling from Northern Iraq to a stable in Bethlehem using second hand two-seater convertibles bought for £3,500. As Israel will not allow cars registered in it's surrounding neighbours to enter its borders, they must buy cars from Georgia before flying to their destination in an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane. Jeremy buys a Mazda MX-5, Richard a Fiat Barchetta and James a BMW Z3. As in previous challenges a spare car is provided to any presenter whose car breaks down. For this challenge, that car is an Opal Astra, a car loathed by all three presenters.

After landing at Arbil International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, the three decide that it is too dangerous to drive directly to Bethlehem as it would involve traveling through the Al-Queda stronghold of Mosel as well as Baghdad. Instead, Jeremy proposes a circuitous route that involves traveling east and crossing into Iran and then doubling back into Turkey and down into Syria to avoid the dangers of Iraq. However once they reach the Iranian border, they find out that for "political reasons", BBC staff are not permitted to cross into Iran (Jeremy initially believed the ban only applied to BBC Newsreaders and reporters like Fiona Bruce and Sophie Raworth) prompting James to conclude that Ant & Dec can come to Iran since they aren't BBC staff. They manage to find a route back across Iraq to the Turkish border that bypasses Mosel.

Once inside Turkey they discover that they have a bigger problem: a Kurdish insurgency is attempting to claim the southern provinces of Turkey and that the region has been declared a war zone, with the Foreign Ministry issuing a document that states all non-essential travel should be avoided due to high threats of terrorism and the war for independence. The presenters are given four hours to travel the 363 kilometres (226 miles) to Sanliufa, a safe city, before nightfall, a journey that will force them to travel through the unsafe region of Sirnak. Jeremy experiences trouble with his Mazda but all three are able to make it to the hotel. To punish Richard for being smug about his car's reliability, Jeremy and James disconnect the standard stereo and install a secret second stereo in the Fiat and a Genesis CD (specifically Live over Europe 2007) - a band that Hammond is known to hate - which he can't turn off.

They finally turn south and enter Syria, their progress halted by the Z3's security system which refuses to start the car. Once inside they discover that their journey is still full of problems; for political reasons they can't enter Israel from Syria because the border is closed. Richard suggests Lebanon into Israel but Jeremy tells Richard that he'll find that difficult. James suggests that they enter Israel via Jordan with Jeremy agreeing adding that the only problem they have is if the Israelis know they have been in Syria. Despite claims from James that no-one in Syria watch Top Gear compared to France or Australia, they discover that Top Gear is enormously popular in Syria, which they are less than enthusiastic about because Israel will not allow them into the country if they know that they have been in Syria and any word of their presence in the country will spread like wildfire and tip the Israelis off before they can get to the border. Jeremy proposes that they "sneak through" the country by modifying their cars for desert travel. Richard models his Fiat on a Bedouin tent while James takes inspiration from the Luftwaffe and Afrika Korps and models his BMW on a desert army unit. Meanwhile Jeremy paints his car in bright colours to resemble the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours, making it Jeremy and his Car of Many Colours. He also installs the "Axle of Evil" to make his Mazda a six wheeled vehicle, though this proves to hinder him more than it helps.

While traveling through the desert, Richard's radiator very nearly falls out and Jeremy is bitten by an unidentified insect that causes his arm to swell up. Of more concern is an accident whilst attempting to drag a car out of a sand trap; James is knocked over by the strap used to haul the car and receives a head wound when he hits his head on a rock. He is taken to a nearby hospital while Jeremy and Richard carry on. They soon find a road near Palmyra and change their tactics: rather that disguising their cars they dsiguise themselves, meeting May at the hospital dressed in burqas and attempt to drive to Damascus incognito, prompting James to say to the audience "Tonight on Carry on... Are You Being it Ain't Half Dad's Army's Mother". Their efforts are in vain, because word has spread that they are in the country and there is a welcoming party at their hotel.

The next day they cross into Jordan and arrive in Jerash where they invent the sport of "Old Testament NASCAR" racing their cars around a two thousand year old chariot racing circuit. With that they cross into Israel and make a slight detour to the Sea of Galilee, where Jeremy tries to convince the others that everyday activities and natural occurrences - James's head wound and his arm healing, Richard not liking fish for lunch, walking on water and inventing the sport of swimming - are all miracles that he had performed. On the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, they unanimously declare Richard's Fiat to be the best car because James hated the transmission of his Z3, which he described as having gear ratios so spread out that he could fit another gear box between them, and Jeremy did not develop an attachment to the MX-5.

That night they finally make it to Bethlehem, where they arrive at a nativity scene with gifts they have purchased in Syria: a gold relief medallion, a bottle of hotel shampoo labeled Frankincense and a Nintendo DSi because Jeremy could not find any myrrh. They peel back the covers on the manger to discover that the baby Jesus is actually a baby Stig.