Review: James May's Toy Stories (BBC Two)

While I understand why people dislike (dare I say it, hate) Top Gear, one thing I can’t fathom is how anyone could ever feel anything untoward about James May.

In his Toy Stories, May proves that, by being slightly awkward and nerdy, you can shine a light on Great British affability. May has it in bucket-loads.

This latest series sees May getting a load of old, out-dated toys and giving them something of a last hurrah. I’m sure that he’d like to think that he’s breathing new life into old classics… but he isn’t. There’s not a chance that last night’s featured toy, Meccano, will see a spike in sales. Sadly for the nuts and bolts, they’re just not as much fun as a Playstation 3.

Whilst the kids of today are all blinding their eyeballs and frying their brains with graphics so dazzling that it’s no wonder they feel constantly bored by The Real World. Meccano, like many toys of yesteryear, were based squarely in the world we live in, mixed with a sense of imagination.

Computer games allow you to roam around an alternative universe… Meccano allows you to create your own.

So with this, May borrowed a dizzying amount of Meccano to build a giant swinging bridge thing in the very real world of Liverpool. Once again, a flight of fancy tarted up with practicality made for some excellent television.

Y’see, what these shows do best, is to get us involved with the journey of a project, as well as thrill at James May’s inclusion of volunteers, allowing us to gently cheer them on in their endeavours.

Whilst he horsed around and gave slightly sarcastic stirring speeches, everyone knuckled down to make a bridge that was, to be perfectly honest, a very beautiful object. Useless? Maybe. However, like the spirit of our Victorian cousins, this was all about making something useful and pretty to look at.

Thankfully, these shows don’t get too bogged down in the nerdy aspects of the projects and history because, in all honesty, that would make for a show that demands to be shunted off to 2am in the Open University section of the night. No, this skimmed across many of the meat and bones and left us with a fun, accessible show that made an hour pass by with a intrigued grin on its face.

More of the same please. Oh, and make a lifesize Donkey Kong. Ta.

About the author

I'm Mof Gimmers.

I've been writing about TV for a long time. I love it and loathe it in equal measures. I'm pretty sure the TV feels the same away about me too.
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  • Micky

    James May is the most entertaining and imformative Presenter i have seen for ages He presents everything with such passion. It is about time he stopped being a plaything for the likes of Clarkeson and Hammond.
    He deserves his own show on a regular basis

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