Top Gear lines up NZ's driving dogs

Last updated 09:14 31/01/2013
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Three Auckland dogs that are already among some of the most famous mutts in the world are set to drive their profiles even further with an appearance on the hit BBC series Top Gear.

In an interview with AAP James May let slip that he and co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond would be skipping the ditch when they toured to Australia for the Top Gear Festival in Sydney on March 9 and 10, to film the three canines which are already famous for their car-driving skills.

"I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but we are going to film a little bit but it's going to be in New Zealand," May said.

"It's a fairly obvious one to do for a big road trip."

SPCA chief executive Christine Kalin had earlier confirmed the organisation had received an email from Top Gear producers.

Today she was keeping mum, saying she was unable to make any comment on it at this stage because other parties were involved.

In December Porter, Ginny and Monty, which had been rescued by the SPCA, had international audiences tuning in to see them perform a world first – driving unaided around a race track, live on national television.

The trio of misfit mutts from the Auckland SPCA successfully put their paws in the 10-to-two position on the steering wheel and drove a Mini Countryman solo down a race track in Auckland.

The feat made headlines with the BBC, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mail, and science blogs from international journals Live Science and the Smithsonian.

Schooled by New Zealand animal film trainer Mark Vette and his team, Monty, a giant schnauzer cross, Ginny, a beardie whippet-cross and Porter, a beardie-cross, were put through a 12-week programme and taught to drive a car unaided.

The stunt was part of an SPCA campaign to prove rescued dogs were just as intelligent as other dogs.

It won't be the first time BBC has brought the controversial Top Gear team to New Zealand. The live show last travelled to Auckland in 2009.

The latest series of the most-watched factual show on the planet will first air this Sunday at 7.30pm on Prime.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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