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Richard Mark Hammond (born December 19, 1969, Solihullmarker, Englandmarker) is a Britishmarker TV presenter, most noted for co-hosting car programme Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson and James May, as well as presenting Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky1, Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections on BBC Two, Should I Worry About...? on BBC One and Total Wipeout, also on BBC One and Richard Hammond's Blast Lab on CBBC. He has also presented several one-off specials such as ITV's The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend and the annual Crufts awards.

In 2006, Hammond suffered a life-threatening crash at speeds of over 280 mph (450 km/h) in a jet powered dragster. He recovered months later and continued his presenting work.

Life and career

Hammond was born in Shirleymarker, West Midlands and is the grandson of workers in the Birminghammarker automobile industry. In the mid-1980s Hammond moved with his family (mother Eileen, father Alan, and younger brothers Andrew and Nicholas) to the North Yorkshire Cathedral city of Riponmarker where his father ran a probate business in the market square. Originally a pupil of Solihull Schoolmarker, a fee-paying boys' independent school in the West Midlands town, he moved to Ripon Grammar Schoolmarker, and from 1987 to 1989 attended Harrogate College of Art and Technology. After his graduation he worked for several radio stations before auditioning for Top Gear.

Top Gear

Hammond became a presenter on Top Gear in 2002, when the show began its present format. He is sometimes referred to as "Hamster" by fans and his co-presenters (Jeremy Clarkson and James May) on Top Gear. His nickname was further reinforced when on three separate occasions in Series 7, Hammond ate cardboard, mimicking hamster-like behaviour. Another running gag by co-host Jeremy Clarkson is Hammond's supposed use of teeth whitener, and it was staged to appear that he was caught looking at a website on teeth whiteners on Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show. Clarkson had found a pack of teeth whiteners in a car Hammond had tested. Hammond had objected, saying it was a set up. During an episode in June 2009 which featured the presenters in their office searching for car insurance prices while pretending to be 17 year olds, a teeth whitening kit was pictured on his desk.

In the first episode of series 9 on 28 January 2007, Hammond returned to a hero's welcome, complete with dancing girls, aeroplane stairs and fireworks. The show also contained images of his high speed crash, for which he made international headlines, with Hammond talking through the events of the day, after which the audience broke into spontaneous applause. Hammond then requested that the crash never be mentioned on Top Gear again, though all three Top Gear presenters have since referred to it in jokes during the news segment of the programmes. He told his colleagues "The only difference between me now, and before the crash, is that I like celery now and I didn't before".

Brainiac: Science Abuse

In 2003, Hammond became the first presenter of Brainiac: Science Abuse; he was joined by Jon Tickle with Charlotte Hudson joining in series 2. After the fourth series it was announced that Richard Hammond was no longer going to present the show due to his signing an exclusive deal with the BBC. Vic Reeves took his place as main presenter.

Other radio and television work

Early in his career, Hammond worked at many radio stations, including Radio Cleveland, Radio York, Radio Cumbria, Radio Leeds, and Radio Lancashiremarker, before going on to present a number of daytime lifestyle shows and motoring programmes such as Men & Motors.

He presented the Crufts dog show in 2005, the 2004 and 2005 British Parking Awards, and has appeared on School's Out, a quiz show on BBC One where celebrities answer questions about things they learned at school. He has also presented The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend. Along with his work on Top Gear, he presented Should I Worry About...? on BBC One, Time Commanders on BBC Two and the first four series of Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky One. He was also a team captain on the BBC Two quiz show, Petrolheads, in which a memorable part was one where Hammond was tricked into smashing his classic Ferrari while trying to parallel park blindfolded in another car.

From 3 January 2006 until 10 February 2006, Hammond was the eponymous star of Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show with his co-star Mel Giedroyc of Light Lunch fame. The programme, which discussed a wide range of topics, was shown every weekday on ITV between 17:00 and 18:00.

In July 2005, Hammond was voted number one in a heat magazine poll of top "weird celebrity crushes." Also in 2005 he was voted one of the top 10 British TV talents.

In one episode of Top Gear, fellow presenter James May was mocked by both Hammond and Clarkson for being named the celebrity with the worst hairstyle, while Hammond was named the celebrity with the best.

As part of Red Nose Day 2007, Hammond stood for nomination via a public telephone vote, along with Andy Hamilton and Kelvin MacKenzie, to be a one-off co-presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on 16 March 2007. However, he was defeated by Andy Hamilton.

In April 2007, Hammond presented a one off special on BBC Radio 2 for Good Friday followed by another in August 2007 for the Bank Holiday. He is scheduled to present more Bank Holiday specials for the station.

Hammond recorded an interview with the famed American stuntman Evel Knievel, which aired on the 23 December 2007 on BBC One - which was Knievel's last interview before his death on 30 November 2007.

In September 2008, Hammond presented the first episode of a new series; Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections on the National Geographic Channel. In this show, Hammond discovers how the inventions of the past, along with assistance from nature, help designers today. Episodes include the building of the Airbus A380, Taipei 101marker and the Keck Observatorymarker.

Hammond also filmed an advertisement for Morrisons supermarkets in 2008, and joined forces with the cast of TV show Ashes to Ashes for a special insert on the 2008 Children In Need special.

Hammond is currently hosting the UK version of the US series Wipeout, called Total Wipeout. It takes place in Argentina, presented by Amanda Byram and Richard Hammond (who is in a studio in Great Britain)

Hammond also presents a science-themed game show for children, Richard Hammond's Blast Lab which has finished and aired on BBC Two and CBBC.

Personal life

Hammond has been married to Amanda Etheridge (also known as Mindy) since May 2002; the couple have two daughters. The family lives in a mock castle in Herefordshiremarker and also have a flat in London. They have four horses, five dogs, three cats, a duck, and a few chickens and sheep. This collection of pets includes Tee-Gee/TG or Top Gear Dog. Hammond also plays the bass guitar, on which he accompanied the other Top Gear presenters when they performed alongside Justin Hawkins on Top Gear of the Pops for Comic Relief in 2007. Hammond likes to ride his bicycle in cities, for which he claims to be mocked mercilessly by fellow presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Hammond further claims that there is no reason to drive a Range Rover in town.Hammond is a fan of Porsche 911s (unlike Clarkson) and considers the Pagani Zonda to be the ultimate supercar. He is also a fan of monster trucks - a fact which can be backed up by his appearance at Truckfest '07. Much unlike Clarkson and May, he also has an interest in American Muscle Cars. He has a Dodge Charger, a Shelby Mustang, and also a Dodge Challenger which he bought on his last trip to the United States, due to the fact that Chrysler wouldn't lend Top Gear one, because apparently they are 'too harsh' about their cars.

Hammond had also owned a Morgan AeroMax, in which he was involved in a car accident on 9 August 2009.

Hammond has quit smokingand has attributed his teeth going white to him quitting smoking . Hammond has now started smoking again.

On 22 July 2007, during severe flooding, Hammond left his Porsche 911 - in which he had been stuck in traffic for 13 hours - to run home for his daughter's birthday. He ran 16 miles (26 km) in two-and-a-half hours (from 3am to 5:30 am), arriving home before his daughter woke up.

An interview with The Sunday Times in February 2008 reported Hammond as having moved briefly from Gloucestershiremarker to Buckinghamshire, then back again because he missed the country life.

Hammond is a keen motorcyclist and Land Rover Defender fan. He spent over 70,000GBP rebuilding his 110 "Buster" in 2008.

In October the Hereford Times confirmed he had splashed out three million pounds buying Bollitree Castle which is situated near Weston under Penyardmarker, Ross on Wyemarker. It has been rumoured he has also bought a large house in the small town of Wantagemarker, Oxfordshire.

On Top Gear in 2007, Hammond went to Africa on an 'Epic Road Trip' across Botswana. While there he found a 1963 Opel Kadett, in which he drove across Botswana. Hammond named it Oliver. On Top Gear a week after the special was aired, Hammond announced during the news, that he had shipped Oliver back to the UK, where it was restored by a team from Practical Classics magazine. Oliver features on Hammond's children's science television show Richard Hammond's Blast Lab and in another episode of Top Gear as a kind of "Hill-holder" in the trailer truck challenge (after it acquired the personal plate "OLI V3R"). Oliver is also mentioned in Hammond's second autobiography As You Do.

Vampire dragster crash

During filming of a Top Gear segment at the former RAF Elvingtonmarker airbase near Yorkmarker on 20 September 2006, Hammond was injured in the crash of the jet-powered car he was piloting. Hammond was travelling at at the time of the crash.

vehicle, a dragster called Vampire, was theoretically capable of travelling at speeds of up to . The vehicle was the same car that in 2000, piloted by Colin Fallows, set the British land speed record at . The Vampire was powered by a single Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus afterburning turbojet engine outputting .

Some accounts suggested that the accident occurred during an attempt to break the British land speed record, however the Health and Safety Executive report on the crash found that a proposal to try to officially break the record was vetoed in advance by Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, due to the risks and complexities of such a venture . (The report stated: "Runs were to be carried out in only one direction along a pre-set course on the Elvington runway. Vampire’s speed was to be recorded using GPS satellite telemetry. The intention was to record the maximum speed, not to measure an average speed over a measured course, and for [Hammond] to describe how it felt." )

Hammond was completing a seventh and final run to collect extra footage for the programme when his front-right tyre failed, and, according to witness and first responder Dave Ogden, "one of the parachutes had deployed but it went on to the grass and spun over and over before coming to a rest about 100 yards from us." The emergency crew quickly arrived at the car, finding it inverted and partially embedded in the grass. Rescuers felt a pulse and heard the unconscious Hammond breathing before the car was turned upright. Hammond was cut free with hydraulic shears, and placed on a backboard. "He was regaining consciousness at that point and said he had some lower back pain". He was then transported by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to the neurological unit of the Leeds General Infirmarymarker. Hammond's family visited him at the hospital along with Top Gear co-presenters James May and Jeremy Clarkson. Clarkson wished Hammond well, saying "Both James and I are looking forward to getting our 'Hamster' back", referring to Hammond by his nickname.

The Health & Safety Executive report stated that Hammond's instantaneous reaction to the tyre blow out seems to have been that of a competent high performance car driver, namely to brake the car and to try to steer into the skid. Immediately afterwards he also seems to have followed his training and to have pulled back on the main parachute release lever, thus shutting down the jet engine and also closing the jet and afterburner fuel levers. The main parachute did not have time to deploy before the car ran off the runway." The HSE notes that, based on the findings of the North Yorkshire Police (who investigated the crash), "the accident may not have been recoverable", even if Hammond's efforts to react were as fast as "humanly possible".

The crash was shown on an episode of Top Gear on 28 January 2007; this was the first episode of the new series, which had been postponed pending Hammond's recovery. Hammond requested at the end of the episode that his fellow presenters never mention the crash again, a request which has since been forgotten about or ignored by both Hammond and the other presenters (cf. the discussion of Felipe Massa's 2009 accident).

In February 2008 Hammond gave an interview to The Sunday Times newspaper in which he described the effects of his brain injuries and the progression of his recovery. He reported suffering loss of memory, depression, and difficulties with emotional experiences, for which he was consulting a psychiatrist.

After the car crash the BBC website Have Your Say received more than 10,000 messages of good wishes and sympathy for Richard Hammond from people around the world.

Works

TV shows

Year Title Notes
2002 - present Top Gear Co-presenter
2002 - 2006 Brainiac: Science Abuse Presenter
2004 - 2005 Crufts Presenter
Should I Worry About...? Presenter
2005 The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend Presenter
Time Commanders Presenter
Inside Britain's Fattest Man Presenter
2006 Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show Presenter
Petrolheads Contestant
School's Out Contestant
Richard Hammond's Would you believe it? Presenter
Richard Hammond and The Holy Grail Presenter
Battle of the Geeks Contestant
2007 Last Man Standing Narrator
Helicopter Heroes Narrator
Richard Hammond Meets Evel Knievel Presenter
2008 BBC Timewatch January 2008 - Narrator, Omaha Beach Episode
Sport Relief Co-presenter (with Davina McCall)
2009 Total Wipeout Presenter
Richard Hammond's Blast Lab Presenter
Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections Presenter


Books

Car Books



Children's Books



Biographies



Notes

  • Working Titles For "As You Do" (ISBN= 978-0753825624) Included "Crocodiles & Cueballs - Adventures With Friends" And "Back On The Wheel - A Hamster Back In Action". No Books Were Ever Published Under These Titles, Although Certain Websites Claim They Were. As You Do Is Also Available On Audio CD.


  • Richard's First Biography, "On The Edge" (ISBN= 978-0297853275), Is Available On Audio CD, Read By Richard And Mindy Hammond. The Abridged Version Contains Re-Written Material Not Published In The Adult Version.


  • Working Titles For "Or Is That Just Me?" (ISBN= 978-0297855217) Include "Obsessives" and "Did I Say That?". The Book Is Available On Audio CD.


DVDs

  • Richard Hammond's Top Gear Interactive Challenge Quiz


  • Richard Hammond's Top Gear Stunt Challenge Quiz


  • Richard Hammond's Top Gear Uncovered: The DVD Special


Television Advertisements



  • Morrisons (Christmas 2008)




  • Top Gear Turbo Challenge Trading Cards Test Set (2009)


  • Morrisons (2009)


  • Morrisons (Christmas 2009)


References

External links




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