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Our fantastic day at Top Gear

This post was written by Emily Edmonds and first appeared on the Epic blog on 13th March 2013.

On Wednesday 20th February, our Chief Executive Jonathan Satchell won the Top Gear day at a charity auction held for companies who support good causes, ours being Events for Namuwonga.  Jonathan and three lucky members of Epic staff, Julie Mangan, Mandy Renton and Andy Bolt, were treated to a fantastic VIP day out at Top Gear. Here’s an account of what they got up to….

We started off by lunching at the BBC canteen with the crew and then made our way into the studio – which is actually an old aircraft hangar. The floor manager gave us free range to explore, so we sat on the infamous sofa and behind the wheel of some very expensive cars. The audience then joined us for the recording and although there were hundreds of audience members, our VIP status meant we were ushered to the front to stand behind the presenters during the recording!

The production is as well-oiled as one of the luxury cars dotted around the studio and the whole filming experience was quite fascinating and really very enjoyable. The Top Gear crew and presenters made a real effort to make it entertaining throughout, keeping up the banter off-camera and interacting with the audience all the time. Julie and Mandy both answered a question from Jeremy about the denier of tights!

The actor James McAvoy (Atonement and The Last King of Scotland) was our ‘Star in the reasonably priced car’. His interview was brilliant and he came across as a really nice man.

During a break in filming, we went out to the track for our laps with the Stig! There he was sat in a Mercedes AMG C63 (V8 457bhp for all those petrol heads) waiting for us. He was enticed out of the car by one of the crew for some photos and all attempts at engaging him in idle chat failed. He then drove us on what was an amazing full throttle lap at 140 mph down the straights, tearing into corners at incredible speeds with tyres smoking and opposite lock on the steering wheel. He had total control throughout.

In stark contrast, we then had a slow lap with James May in a VW UP. We chatted as he drove us round giving a guided tour of the airfield. He really is as charming as he comes across on TV.

James (yes we’re on first name terms now!) popped back in for the rest of the recording with Clarkson and Hammond and we followed behind for the recording of the final link of the show.

All in all it was a fantastic day and definitely one we’ll all remember for a very long time.

We are reliably informed that our contributions have helped to build toilets in Namuwonga.