Join Freesat

Sep 22 2009

Top Gear

Good news for all you car fans, Top Gear will be available in stunning high-definition on BBC HD from November 15th.

The announcement was made today by Danielle Nagler, Head of BBC HD on the popular and pleasantly honest BBC Internet Blog.

The decision follows an amazing response to a question Danielle asked a couple of months earlier on which programmes we’d like to see most in HD; going to show that some heads of broadcast do indeed listen.

73 Responses to “Top Gear in HD from November”

  1. Expat Says:

    BBC HD, not so stunning anymore, thanks to reduced bitrate and new encoder, according to all the posts on Digital Spy!


  2. Andy Says:

    You aren’t forced to watch Strictly Come Dancing I assume then – you wouldn’t be saying that if you had seen it!


  3. admin Says:

    Don’t read too much into reduced bitrates; PQ still looks good and most wouldn’t even notice if it wasn’t for all the coverage on Digitalspy.


  4. Alex Says:

    This is fantastic news. I have also read up that not this new series of waterloo road. But Spring 2010 is going to be filmed in HD :)

    I am so glad about this news :)


  5. euan melville Says:

    oh finally. good things actually do come to those who wait.


  6. boingle Says:

    Fab, This news item alone carries more value than all of the previous ‘new channel’ announcements added together.


  7. stuart A Says:

    yes, top gear in HD .
    If it wasnt for freesat we would all be stuck with freeview (if we could get it) or filling murdock`s overflowing pockets.
    dont bite the hand that feeds you…..simples.


  8. boingle Says:

    Fingers crossed that the next announcement will be news of Match of the Day and F1 being broadcast in HD.


  9. Brian P Says:



  10. Robert Hudson Says:

    I am afraid that both my wife and I have to agree with post 1 (Expat), and as for the following from admin,

    quot “Don’t read too much into reduced bit-rates; PQ still looks good and most wouldn’t even notice if it wasn’t for all the coverage on Digitalspy.”

    We did not need to be told that the PQ has dropped it still looks good’ it’s supposed to look Stunning as the following Quot says

    Quote “Good news for all you car fans, Top Gear will be available in stunning high-definition on BBC HD from November 15th.”


  11. Al Catraz Says:

    Why does every piece of good news get trashed by the “yes but the bit rate has dropped so the picture must be rubbish” brigade?

    If you don’t like the FREE offerings, then subscribe to $ky and move on.

    … and all the “its not really free – you pay for it in your license fees” brigade can get off their high horses too!

    there – feeling better already. more, BBC, more!


  12. AndrewM Says:

    Good news indeed that Top Gear will be in HD, although I’m not a huge fan of the programme (and I mean that literally, I like it but don’t love it).

    @Alex: It sounds from Danielle’s earlier blog ( ) that the next series of Waterloo Road will be broadcast in HD this autumn, not next spring.

    @boingle: Match of the Day will move to HD in 2011 when BBC Sport moves to Salford; the reasons are explained here:


  13. Andrew M Says:

    Well said Al. Here, here.
    I can only get Freeview when the wind is in the right direction and Murdock’s priority is his wallet.
    Freesat is the future and HD just gets better. (Except STV!)


  14. AndrewM the first Says:

    It’s my doppelganger! (with a space)

    Guess I’d better change my name to avoid confusion…


  15. AndrewM the first Says:

    Also, for any fans of Countryfile, that is moving to HD this Sunday (27 September):


  16. Dean smith Says:
    Read the bbc blog . A full detail on the bit rate issue . sept 17th 2009.


  17. Denis Says:

    Agree Al – This issue about the “bit rate” is beginning to sound like a broken record. The fact is the BBC HD picture is excellant.

    I suggest we have a separate section called “Bit Rate” where the “bit rate moaners” can discuss the issue and technicalities all day, and leave the main message page to the rest of us to talk about other issues.


  18. derek500 Says:

    I have been posting the reason why MOTD is not in HD on various forums for nearly two years now. Glad the BBC has at last published the reason too!!


  19. derek500 Says:

    @ Denis & Al Cartraz. Agree with you both. It’s getting ridiculous that people are freeze framing a bunch of people doing the Mambo to look for artefacts!!


  20. Richard Crichton Says:

    Top Gear is sold around the world so it had to go HD. The only thing that Danielle Nagler listens to is the bottom line.
    17 Denis. A few shows look excellent. Others look like upscaled SD.


  21. TheDukeOfHunslet Says:

    I agree that BBCHD is now not as good but this is a significant step forward for the BBC who have until now decided that its premiership programs should be transmitted in black and white and mono.

    Some say that in HD he appears as a cloud of 1’s and zero’s. All we know is he’s called The Stig.


  22. Trevor Harris Says:

    The BBC picture quality is better than SD but only just. It is about the same as the upscalled SD shown on Eurosport. Freesat viewers have very little to compare quality with. If you get the chance just compare Eurosport HD or Sky Sports 1 HD and you will see quite a difference. There is also a serious problem with 5.1 sound which they are trying to fix. I would not advise anyone to get freesat at the moment until the future becomes more certain. Its not Digital Spy that is covering this issue most complaints are on the BBC blogs.


  23. derek500 Says:

    @ Andrew M “…..Murdock’s priority is his wallet.”

    I don’t which Murdoch you’re referring to, I assume it’s Rupert who is the chairman of News Corp, who owns through the Murdoch family’s shareholdings about 11% of Sky.

    Of course BSkyB which News Corp has a 39% holding is a PLC and is there to make profit, like all other PLCs. The only reason it’s successful is because it gives subscribers what they want.

    You won’t find many posts on forums moaning about why is this football match not in HD? Why is this programme not in HD. Why is the PQ poor etc. etc.

    You pays your money (or not in the case of Freesat) and takes your choice.

    With such a small percentage of the licence payers being able to receive BBC HD, they do a very good job with limited resources.

    Sky of course, only charge for HD if you can receive it, so they are more accountable for the quality of their HD channels.

    I’m not being pro Sky or anti Freesat, I’m stating facts.


  24. derek500 Says:

    @ Richard Crighton. Which programmes on BBC HD look upscaled to you?

    The only HD I’ve seen which fits that category was last Sunday’s Doc Martin on ITV HD.


  25. chrislayeruk Says:

    I hear some people complaing about BBC HD and SD pictures, I would suggest that perhaps their choice of TV and set up may have some bearing on things.

    BBC SD and HD look great on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma and Sd looks great on my Phillips 32″ LCD. On Freesat and Freeview.
    I researched both TV’s before purchase and both where Award winners.

    You cant blame the BBC for poor TV purchases and freebie HDMI cables.

    The shooting of material in HD also has benefit to SD viewers and so things can only get better.

    Cheers, Chris


  26. Chris K Says:

    I see the new series of Benidorm starts next week and is not in HD.

    Last year I thought I read somewhere that the new 1 hour episodes would be in HD.

    Is this another ITV change of mind.


  27. Alex Says:

    Waterloo road, Top gear and many more great programs in HD.
    Along with the iPlayer coming, and hopefully CH4 at sometime soon.

    I think freesat is going to stay at my house now :)

    I just hope BBC promote the fact that topgear, and waterloo road are going to be on HD. As that will being up freesat viewing figures.
    It disappoints me sometimes that when programs are in HD, the voiceover guy at the start of the program dosnt promote that viewers can watch it is ‘super hd quality’


  28. Alex Says:

    CH4HD in my pervious message sorry


  29. Denis Says:

    chrislayerruk – Good point about choice of TV. I have a Panasonic LCD 32″ and have no complaints about the picture SD or HD. Like you I spent a long time researching my choice. Also careful choice of HDMI cable.

    As I have said before on here with so many variables on equipment this arguement about standard of HD picture is a non starter and dead in the water.


  30. JE Says:

    I totally agree with comments on the drastic drop in the quality of the BBC HD picture, The Incredible Human Journey was recently repeated on BBC HD and I made a point of watching it then comparing with the recording I made when it was first shown prior to the BBC HD change and even the recording was very clearly a better quality picture?. Poorer quality and lack of future expansion of HD content removes one of the main reasons for getting Freesat and I’m certainly not recommending it to anyone anymore.


  31. Lee B Says:

    I’d agree BBC HD is excellent, just not stunning any more. If the reason for the bitrate reduction is to launch ITV HD then that’s ok, but no doubt it’s to save a few pence.


  32. MikeC Says:

    Lee B @ 31

    The problem is that HD should mean something definable; not what the broadcaster wants it to be. How would you feel if the guv’nor at your local decided that a pint was actually 16 fluid ounces rather than 20?

    According to the EBU, HD means 1920×1080 transmitted at a bit-rate of greater than 12 Mbps (a 2009 document so includes modern encoders).

    We’re not getting that.


  33. Robert Hudson Says:

    Have you seen the news on BBC RED button under entertainment, Pay for BBC iPlayer? we should be charged a micro fee, read it if it’s true were does that leave us Freesat?????????????


  34. Andrew M Says:


    I have to take issue with your comments about Murdock and $ky. My experiances indicate precisely what Murdock thinks about his customer base and his wallet certainly DOES rule.

    The quality of $ky’s output depends entirely on the size of their paying audience yet they do absolutely nothing to try and preserve any kind of customer loyalty. They simply continue to try to increase their hold on the market by offereing carrot dangling deals to tempt people in. Yet once the customer has bitten, they do not give a toss about customer service whatsoever.

    I was a $ky customer for over 20 years and always had their most expensive package. Yet when I decied to leave them, I encountered problems you can only imagine.

    I rang them to tell them I was leaving and asked for a balance. They misquoted me by £25.00 but I didn’t know this.

    So I sent them a cheque for the amount they had asked for. Then I started getting letters claiming that I had paid them £25.00 less than what they had asked for.

    Eventually, they called in a Debt Collector and threatened legal action so I gave in and paid up.

    There was never any ‘Sorry, we made a mistake’. It was all my fault and I was made to fell like a criminal.

    What has made me take this point of view is tha fact that I am not alone in all this. Numerous people that I know personally have experienced similar problems. How many then, that I don’t know, have gone through the same scenario? It must be thousands.

    No, sorry Derek, what you say is perfectly correct – in a normal business world. But Murdock’s wallet most definately does rule and it’s a case of ‘sod off if you try to cross me’ to the rest of us.


  35. YASAR Says:

    Here is a note from Freeview site
    “Freeview HD will bring you a huge range of entertainment. From the 2010 football World Cup, to your favourite soaps and dramas, children’s favourites, documentaries and a host of top films, they’ll all be available in glorious HD. BBC, ITV and Channel 4 HD channels will be available along with S4C HD in Wales. Five HD aims to launch on Freeview HD in late 2010.”
    That is 3 more channels than Freesat!!
    Any comments???


  36. Robert Hudson Says:

    No Comment!


  37. JPee Says:

    To my understanding while spending money on a good quality HD TV is a good idea, there is no point spending money on anything but a cheap HDMI cable as it is a digital signal and as long as you do not lose any of the transmitted bits then it’s as good as it gets.


  38. gordon bacon Says:

    i wonder if 4hd is not coming to us because channel4 is in talks with sky and virgin about joining up for advertising


  39. chrislayeruk Says:

    JPEE you havnt got to spend alot to improve freeby cables and you will see the differance. I sugest you Google uk HDMI supplies or somthing like that. You will find what I am talking about. Less than £20.00 will do you good. Chris


  40. Alex Says:

    I have a CHORD HDMI cable, which was £80 and won the which magazine HDMI cable award. and it is so much better than the standard one that came with the humax.
    The colours are better, and it is sharper in SD mode.

    Granted if you only watch tv on a little 22″ HD tv, you wont notice any difference, But if you have spend money on a quality tv like my pioneer Kuro. It is worth it


  41. admin Says:

    Sadly expensive cables win magazine awards for a reason; they are their highest paying advertisers! A £5 HDMI is just as good as an £80 one, the signal is the same.


  42. Alex Says:

    Explain how the picture is better then?
    a more expensive cable is going to transmit data at a faster rate, and from user experience on my pioneer kuro plasma i will stand by my word. That this £80 chord cable i am using is (not much better, but worth the money) than a standard cheap one.


  43. Rogerd Says:

    Sorry, but what have these recent posts got to do with Top Gear in HD? I’m looking forward to seeing it on BBCHD, it will be a better picture than I currently get on BBC2 on my Panasonic 46″, so I, for one, am very happy.


  44. Al Catraz Says:

    Alex. HDMI is a digital signal – ‘0’s and ‘1’s go in one end and ‘0’s and ‘1’s come out the other end – no loss of quality to picture or sound. You either get a picture or you don’t. My HDMI cost £2.45 from ebay and the picture and sound are perfect.


  45. AndrewM the first Says:

    @Robert Hudson: I assume the news story you are talking about is this one: . If you actually read the story you’ll see that the call for people to pay for iPlayer access comes from the chief executive at an independent production company, not from the BBC or anyone at the BBC.


  46. AndrewM the first Says:

    @YASAR: True that the way things are going Freeview HD will soon have more HD channels than Freesat, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It is within the BBC’s power to free up a transponder on Astra 2D, thus allowing ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and (probably, although I’m not completely sure it could fit 5 HD channels) Five HD to be broadcast FTA and thus available on Freesat. This would be in addition to BBC HD and a theoretical 2nd BBC HD channel.

    Andrew Knight explains it here in a comment on the BBC Internet blog:


  47. chrislayeruk Says:

    Al Catraz, Have you heard of the phenominum known as Jitter?
    It geatly effects digital signals and HDMI is a disaster as far as acurate audio goes. Chris :)


  48. Boingle Says:


    Electricity travels at the speed of light. The quality of a cable can’t change this fact – it’s the laws of physics, however the characteristics of a cable can determine the maximum throughput for a specific cable length.

    The length of a HDMI cable is more likely to cause a problem than the quality. An £80 cable might be able to carry the image over a longer length than a £5 cable, but this only becomes an issue when you reach cable lengths in excess of 5m.

    As others have stated, HDMI is digital. Either it works or it doesn’t. If you get severe break up of sound or video, and you aren’t exceeding the lengths in the HDMI specifications, then the cable whilst described as ‘poor quality’, would technically be ‘faulty’, in which case you are entitled to return it for a refund / exchange. If you don’t get severe break up of sound or video, then your cable is delivering a perfect signal.

    I fear you may be one of the many victims of certain cable manufacturers’ marketing tactics for selling over-inflated products.


  49. Boingle Says:


    Jitter is a side effect of the HDMI specifications, cable quality plays no part in this.


  50. Robert Hudson Says:

    @AndrewM the first
    I did not say THE BBC SAID I just said that it was on BBC news channel.(red button) perhaps I should of said that it was said by the chief executive at an independent production company, just thought I would let people read it ALL for them selves.


  51. derek500 Says:

    @ AndrewM I’m sorry to hear of your experiences, but surely you will find examples of bad customer service at any PLC, especially one with nearly ten million customers.


  52. zag Says:

    Great news :)

    Now all we need is match of the day HD


  53. Derek Says:

    The posting from Boingle is quite right.

    For those in doubt the Gadget Show spent some time studying HDMI cables and the conclusion was that the hyped and costly cables were of no benefit, assuming a normal length of cable. As others have said a digital signal is just a string of 0s and 1s.

    If you are experiencing radio interference (which can cause break up or freezing of signal) then I would fit an HDMI cable with ferrite cores at each end. This is good practice and can give a substantial improvement. Sometimes your own equipment can produce spurious signals that are strong enough to be picked up on the connecting cables, resulting in loss of quality. Ferrite cores help to prevent this. Such cables often cost less that gold plated connectors.

    However, the primary legitimate use for silver and gold contacts is in connectors carrying radio signals in the GHz region. Unfortunately some large chain stores and specialist suppliers now promote such connectors for purposes for which they are not required.


  54. derek500 Says:

    @ zag MOTD in HD in 2011.


  55. scoobie Says:

    @admin #3
    Are you suggesting most people are using digitalspy forums to judge picture quality and not their own eyes?

    well this guy didn’t read digitalspy – taken from BBC HD blog

    “231. At 3:16pm on 23 Sep 2009, Easybourne wrote:

    I has just stumbled (via Google) on this blog post as I was looking for other people that had noticed the same degradation of BBC HD quality of recent weeks.

    I have had Freesat for about seven or eight months and have notice that the ‘Wow Factor’ has definitely gone from BBC HD. There is a definite softness to the image, lack of pop, and, most worryingly a high incidence and proliferation of encoding artefacts that appear to be a result of poor encoding AND a too-low bitrate”


  56. Richard Crichton Says:

    Will it be in Dolby Digital 5.1 and will there be a DOG?
    Wonder why they dropped the footy? Probably realised that the bitrate is too low for acceptable picture quality.
    There is no doubt that the picture quality has dropped slightly on BBC HD and I don’t read Digital Spy either.
    Question is why did they nearly half the bit rate? No other channel or i-player has appeared so why why why?


  57. Tony Hales Says:

    Andy Quested said that the BBC had acted “to reduce the unsustainable bit rates for HD transmission”, warning that in the absence of such action “it will have no future or will only be available to those willing to pay for and able to get super premium services”.

    Is he serious? HD unsustainable unless they use bit rates which do not even qualify as HD according to the EBU definiton of HD broadcasts.


  58. Al Catraz Says:

    well well, another thread taken over by the bit rate boys….yawn!


  59. Brusselsman Says:

    I am truly delighted that the Top Gear team will be in HD. I think this is one of the most amusing and light hearted shows on TV.

    However, I do wonder if Jeremy Clarkson might be of the opinion that BBC HD needs ‘more power’ (bits)……………?


  60. Prison Warden Says:

    @Al Catraz

    So what do you have to say that’s interesting?


  61. Al Catraz Says:

    prison warden
    if you care to read the threads you’ll see I have made many contributions – whether they’re interesting is a matter of personal choice. My point is that whenever there is a new thread with some useful information, it nearly always ends up with a lengthly discussion about the BBC dropping bit rates and how dreadful the picture quality is as a result. I find that irritating and somewhat disrespectful to this site managers’ effort to pass on useful information.


  62. Denis Says:

    Is “bit rate” over rated?


  63. Denis Says:

    Rather – Is ” bit rate” a “bit” over rated?


  64. Robert Hudson Says:

    Hi off topic a bit, when I fast forward a program recorded off BBC HD I get picture breakup, not worrying in it self, but this only happens with BBC HD and not ITV HD or any SD programs. wonder why? any body know???


  65. Brusselsman Says:


    Robert, this breakup is directly related to the change of BBC HD encoder – try it with anything recorded before the change and it will work flawlessly.

    The bit rate issue does have other consequences.


  66. Prison Warden Says:

    @Al Catraz.

    Good point.


  67. Dean smith Says:

    There is one thing to say about top gear in hd . Great news. That it.
    With bit rates you have a topic which is a popular discussion which neeeds its own page really.


  68. Alex Says:

    @Robert I have the same problem. at first i thought it was my hard drive playing up when under load, but later found out, its this new bit rate thing.

    Doesnt bother me much, maybe a fix humax to do with a firmware update.


  69. Robert Says:

    yep a fix from Humax may fix the problem, or even a fix from the BBC i.e. more bite rate. LOL


  70. Prison Warden Says:

    Freeview box retune required.

    ‘ITV3, ITV4 and some BBC radio stations will also be affected. About 460,000 households are expected to permanently lose access to ITV3 and ITV4.’

    The technical changes behind the upgrade will eventually enable High Definition (HD) television to be broadcast on Freeview. HD is already available on the free-to-view satellite service Freesat.

    Another potential 460,000 Freesat viewers?


  71. Derek Says:

    I suspect that the majority of Freeview viewers attached to relay (as opposed to main) transmitters are not aware of the implications of the retune on 30 September. The information has been available, but not on sites that many of them would see.

    A few people are not going to be happy about the loss of football that is occasionally on ITV4!!

    An engineering test channel (usually identifying as channel 501) continues from Crystal Palace, but many Freeview sets and boxes can’t recognise it.

    I agree that this could result in more customers for Freesat.


  72. Lee B Says:

    @Robert same issue here on BBCHD, looks like not enough bitrate to me.


  73. Mossydj Says:

    I am so happy about Top Gear coming to BBCHD. By the way Freesat HD is the way forward if you live in the Netherlands. Mine is the only house for miles with a sky dish.


Leave a Reply

Freesat RSS FeedWant the latest Freesat news?
You should subscribe to our RSS Feed, as you'll get all the latest Freesat news, reviews and information!