Sue Baker obituary: automotive journalist, author and broadcaster who presented ‘Top Gear’ for 11 years

Sue Baker, died aged 75, was a journalist and motor broadcaster who presented the TV show Top Gear for 11 years from 1980, appearing in 113 episodes; Far from the testosterone-rich boys’ performances in later years, she recalls, at its core was a simple customer service – “what new cars are coming to the market and we What do you think about them?”

top gear was released by BBC Midlands, who made the first nine-episode series in 1977, produced by Angela Rippon and Tom Coyne. The following year it was released nationally, and by 1980 it was so popular that BBC Two began running two series a year.

Sue Baker was recruited in 1981, along with Chris Goffey; they were quickly joined by Frank Page and William Woollard, and other presenters such as Tiff Needell and Quentin Willson followed – as did Jeremy Clarkson, whom she prepared to take over.

Through the top gear Of the 1980s is a more sober affair than the era of Clarkson and Paddy McGuinness, Sue Baker has traveled the world—albeit often with a less exotic synopsis, as she recalled recently in a Interview with YouTube channel BrownCarGuy: “Now they’re doing these super fun shows with adventures. We’re going to go where there are cars – Japan, Korea, wherever – and drive new cars before they hit the market here.”

The show is intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject, and she will also report on features such as heated rear windows, anti-theft devices, and the novel idea of ​​paying for parking with a credit card. use. But during a test drive on the road, she recalls, “I had to try really hard not to take all the small shopping carts.”

Leslie Susan Baker was born on May 9, 1947 in Chislehurst, Kent, to Dora and Frank Baker; Her father worked for a bank, worked on mechanization. He’s not a car fanatic, but will bring home new kits for Sue and her sister to explore. “I’ve always wanted to know how things work,” she says, “and my love of all things engineering has made me fall in love with cars.”

After leaving school, she studied journalism at Harlow College in Essex. She landed a job in her local newspaper and with a passion for racing since childhood, at the age of 20, she founded the Motor Racing News Service at Brands Hatch, way her home city 16 km.

She convinced her newspaper’s auto editor to let her write while he was on vacation, and since he had no interest in motor sport, she was able to defeated Brands Hatch after going to Le Mans herself and presenting her boss with a ready-made report on paper.

During her first car launch in Italy, she was one of only two female reporters but she was disappointed to find that the other woman saw her as a deadly rival.

She moved to Evening news in London, became a car reporter. She continues to cover Formula 1 and has particularly fond memories of covering the James Hunt vs Niki Lauda showdown.

In 1982, she became an automotive editor at The Observerwhere she lived until 1995. She also had a free time for story magazine.

Sue Baker herself enjoys racing and competes both in races and on the track. On one occasion, she drove an 1899 Benz during a rally in London-Brighton.

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She is the vice president and former president of the Motor Writers’ Association – the first woman to hold the position. In 1991, she published The Complete Driving Guideand the year 2000 Guide to the glove box for female drivers.

When asked if she liked the modern reimagining of the show that made her name, she diplomatically replied: “Ish.”

Sue Baker, who later suffered from motor neurone disease, was married to John Downey, who worked in naval intelligence. He passed away in 2019 and she is survived by their daughter and son. Sue Baker obituary: automotive journalist, author and broadcaster who presented ‘Top Gear’ for 11 years

Fry Electronics Team

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