In honour of canonising Popes John Paul II and John XXII, the BBC are advertising, every hour on the hour, seemingly forever, a blockbuster Top Gear special to be screened this week. The job-lot of saints John are to be celebrated with an action-packed epic of irreverent and barely legal japery.
With His Holiness Pope Francis as the star guest, the team undertake an engineering Health and Safety masterclass titled 'Pope my ride' where they take a Subaru and convert it to an open-topped golf cart. They then race their creations throught the streets of Essex, canonning past every remaining Church to complete a 'crucifix chicane challenge' dodging falling statuary. Extra points are awarded for 'bling' and as usual the boys go too far and hilarity ensues.
After a prologued, contrived and flawless stream of swearing by Clarkson, the pontiff performs an exorcism while Jeremy's co-presenters make hilarious quips. James May is wearing sandals, a woven headband and a white robe while strenously denying that he has come in 'fancy dress' as anyone special. Despite not having a driving licence, Francis uses his own vehicle for 'fastest pontiff in an averagely priced car' managing the circuit in under 55 minutes.
Hammond does his signature 'cute' thing until the Pope accidentally steps on him and then apologies profusely. A drama then unfolds where the viewing public are left in some doubt as to whether he can possibly survive his horrific injuries. He then pops up as perky as ever at the end of the programme, after 3 days in a coma, while Clarkson is uncharacteristically subdued and never mentions the incident again.
There were suggestions that the programmers achieve the ratings coup of a 'Good versus Evil' race around the Top Gear track, pitting the pontiff's driving skills against that of ex-PM Tony Blair. Unfortunately His Holiness had to decline. He was saguine about Tony, but admitted that nothing in his papacy had prepared him for the horrific spiritual challenge of being in the demonic presence of Cherie. 'In any case', a BBC spokesman admitted, 'we could pay what the Vatican were charging, but Blair is simply unaffordable.'