Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge: A Conversation with Presenter Fuzz Townshend
National Geographic’s top-rated “car-shaped show about people”, Car S.O.S, the car restoration show with a whole lot of heart, returns this Valentine’s Day with a televisual love letter to one of the country’s most cherished cars, the Land Rover. Tune in to National Geographic on 14th February at 8pm to catch the first of two brilliant, fast-paced and funny new special shows featuring a live studio audience and a celebrity guest in Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge. Then catch the second instalment of the adrenaline fuelled spin-off show on 21st February at 8pm ahead of a brand-new 10-part series of Car S.O.S commencing 28th February at 8pm.
How do you feel about undertaking the “Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge”?
It’s a little bit daunting! We’ve had to map everything out and go around the country sourcing all the parts. British Parts and Craddocks have helped in sorting that out. We’ve tapped into their teams. Can this restoration be done within the seven-day limit? Well, everybody loves a challenge, and we are no exception!
Did you feel inspired doing this restoration for Brian?
Absolutely. He’s been ill, but thankfully he has now made a full recovery. He’s beaten his illness, but the Land Rover had beaten him. So we are simply redressing the balance. His children learnt to drive in this car, and now Brian will get to drive it again.
Why is this particular car so treasured by him?
He bought it brand-new in 1959. He was a trainee draughtsman at Land Rover. When it was being built, they made it to his specifications. It’s a special Land Rover, and we hope it remains special.
Have you enjoyed working with Ross Kemp on this episode?
Absolutely. He’s a brilliant celebrity guest. What’s lovely is that he is genuinely a really big petrol-head. I was very pleased with his welding. He is not so great at chopping bits of metal out, but he’s learning. He’s not a bad apprentice!
This special is filmed in front of a live audience. Does that prospect scare you?
No. I’m sure we will end up off piste, but I have played drums for years, so I’m used to performing live. I’m not worried about that. We have just got to do it without boring the audience by having to film extra bits because we’ve fluffed things up!
What can we expect to see you getting up to in this series?
You will see me being bleeped a lot for swearing because I’m working with old cars! There will be lots of sparks flying, sweating, welding and stitching. We are getting properly stuck in. We are doing up a lot of cars that are very hard to find parts for, like a Peugeot 504 Cabriolet and a Toyota Celica from 1972. Try getting anything for that!
Did that car present you with some huge challenges?
Definitely. We had to make panels for that, and that’s extremely difficult. But there is always a way. Even if you have got a postage stamp sized piece of steel, you can still build a car around that. You just need ingenuity!
You and Tim have a great chemistry, don’t you?
Yes. We bounce off each other really well, especially now we know each other inside out. We can second-guess each other and tell what’s coming. We know exactly what the other person is thinking. We just have to give each other a nod and go “OK”.
Does that help with the improvised nature of Car S.O.S?
Yes. We can just roll. The show is unscripted. We don’t find that difficult. In fact, it’s much easier because we don’t have to read the autocue.
Why has Car S.O.S proved so popular?
Because I don’t think Car S.O.S is a show about cars. It’s a car-shaped show about people. Cars are merely the Trojan Horse. It’s about the pleasure of seeing people having things done for them.
What do you hope viewers gain from Car S.O.S?
It’s a really feelgood show. We don’t mess around. We get properly stuck into the cars and put them back together as they ought to be. We go back to the stories behind each car. Combined with Tim’s humorous bits, that’s the strength of the show. If it were just a technical show with me saying to the camera, “I’m taking this nut off now,” that would have lasted about half a show before being canned!
What is the USP of Car S.O.S?
It’s always about the joy of bringing a family together. What could be better than that? The car is a great conduit for doing that. It’s the families that make the show – Tim and I are just the spanner monkeys. The back stories are really important. That way, the families get to show their emotions and tell their loved ones how much they care through the cars. It’s so satisfying presenting them with the finished product.
Do you always hang around with the families after the “reveal”?
No. When we present the cars to the families, I love just walking away. It’s for the families. I don’t want to get involved in that party. We noodle around with their cars, and then we want to step back and watch these families having a great time with them. That’s what makes Car S.O.S so special.
Is it hard to get celebrities involved in Car S.O.S?
No. Celebrities love it. The show is what it is. It doesn’t matter who’s watching it. It’s the same for everyone. We are making a show that is emotive, fun and informative. Maybe even the Queen watches it!
Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge, Thursday 14th February at 8pm & Thursday 21st February at 8pm on National Geographic