If you haven’t caught this yet, please do. I’m talking about Victoria Coren Mitchell’s new Radio 4 series, Women Talking About Cars, where she chats to women with attitude about the cars they’ve owned, how they affected their lives and what they thought of them.
Deliciously un-PC about things like accidents, driving too fast, competitive male jibes and embarrassing moments this illustrates major gender differences when it comes to motoring. Women are simply more honest about our motoring failings. And this approach makes us laugh because we’ve all made mistakes too.
Anyone who thinks men and women are the same when it comes to cars needs to stop, listen and learn about a completely different motoring mindset.
Victoria’s first interview was with Dawn French who modestly claims to be ‘the most excellent driver you’ll ever meet’ – despite failing her first driving test through nerves or (much more likely) inappropriate humour.
Whereas Victoria’s driving test was the more memorable occasion when she crashed her car into roadworks…
The Women Talking About Cars Formula
Cleverly thought out, the Women Talking About Cars programme includes a live audience with females adding their car stories (mostly lifestyle driven or self critical) plus hilarious blokey-written new car sales blurb ie tech commentaries about cherished cars of yonder years,read by a female for a change. The show ends with the interviewee’s choice of music to drive by.
This formula is eminently capable of transferring to TV and Victoria Coren Mitchell is the no nonsense high brow female to do this, challenging all petrol heads who imagine we should be like them (but can’t explain why…).
Between Victoria and Dawn they unpeeled the motoring formula and why so many women love and rely on our cars. Cars for women are all about being safe, feeling independent, having adventures and having a virtual home on wheels (with blankets, sweets, drinks and a shovel, just in case).
And let’s be quite honest, we’re great drivers and better navigators apparently. For example, Dawn is a better driver than Lenny Henry (she then tries to soften this statement due to his lesser experience), Victoria’s husband David doesn’t drive at all (why would he with a chauffeur) and Dawn’s second husband gets them lost because he can’t find destinations on paper maps.
Totally credible observations I’d say.
Dawn French’s Motoring Career
Told in chronological car order these are the cars Dawn has owned.
A black Morris Minor – practicality over performance – top speed 74mph
Now new at the time, this was Dawn’s first car when she was 17 and at a posh boarding school. She painted The Bomb on its back to give it character compared to other pupils’ brand new cars.
A Rover 2000 (1963) – an ‘iconic sports saloon’… plus self cancelling indicators.
Her parents were allergic to fresh air and fogged up the inside of the car as chain smokers. Whilst she and her brother fought on the back seat.
A Ford Cortina – called after an Italian ski resort to give it an ‘air of European glamour’… plus cigarette lighter
A TVR Cerbera – a big league V8 performance car that’s dominant and curvacious with ‘hellish technical faults.’
Recommended to Dawn by Jeremy Clarkson when she wanted something ‘irresponsibly fast’ who’d have guessed that TVR stood for Trevor? Dawn had to have her bum measured for tailor-made driving seats at Trevor’s factory in Blackpool.
And we all sighed nostalgically at the vroom vroom sound the engine made…
A Jaguar XK8 – a sports car that’s ‘tight and taught’ – called The Cat.
Coincidentally her Comic Strip co-star Jennifer Saunders bought the same car/model over the same weekend.
A Range Rover Sport – a SUV with a swagger.
Best feature? A fridge full of Revells.
Best roads? The M4 and M5 until Dawn got fined by both Somerset AND Devon separately for the same incidence of exceeding the average speed in a 50mph limit by doing an average 55mph. Is this fair she asked?
And I felt the audience agreed with her.
But it was Polly in the audience that made us laugh in a shocked way – when she drive her Range Rover through a 5 bar gate, without opening it first.
How many men would own up to such driving ditz I wonder?
The programme ended with a rousing rendition of ‘I’m Outta Love’ by Anastasia – that’s the sort of music that encourages us to floor the accelerator pedal even though we know we shouldn’t. What fun.
That’s what I loved about Victoria’s new Radio programme. It reminded us that motoring can still be fun.
Yes, it was gloriously irreverent and fun in what felt like an all female room.
A case of Vive La Difference in an environment where there was absolutely no need to mention or think about equality.
Because we who know about these things know that men and women are very different when it comes to cars.
So let’s get over this, stop moaning Erin, move on and get back to enjoying motoring and being ourselves.
I look forward to further Episodes on Wednesdays at Radio 4 at 6.30pm. Before it transfers to TV. I hope.