“Car S.O.S.” is a British automotive TV series, which airs on National Geographic Channel and Channel 4. The show is presented by the engineer and radio personality Tim Shaw and musician Fuzz Townshend, who work closely with a specialist car restoration team as they work on classic cars from across the UK and Europe. “Car S.O.S.” has a charitable factor as well, as the cars seen on the show come from owners who couldn’t finish the restoration process themselves, usually due to financial or medical reasons. At the end of each episode, they are surprised by the finished product in a staged event organized by Tim Shaw. The series has been airing since 2013, spanning across nine seasons, with 10th season on its way.
Who is Tim Shaw?
“Car S.O.S” definitely wouldn’t be what it is today without Tim Shaw. Born on 9 June 1974 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, Tim is a radio host, TV personality, and an engineer.
Before becoming an internationally recognized host, Tim studied Product Design and Mechanical Engineering at university, and also acquired a degree in Professional Broadcasting. It has been reported that Tim had scored 100% in A-Levels, along with GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in Design and Technology, making him the only person in the UK to achieve such an accomplishment. Furthermore, he was named one of the ‘Young Engineers of the Year’ in 1992 and 1994.
Tim started his radio career in 2004, when he became a host of “The Asylum”, which broadcast on Kerrang! Radio. In running the show, Tim was joined by members of his team nicknamed Juicy Lucy, Knob Holder, Donkhole, Slippy Knickers, Duncan Donuts and Toenail among others. During his time at Kerrang! Radio, Shaw built the reputation of a rebel, prone to controversies. He was dismissed from “The Asylum” in April 2008, after a UK Office of Communications, Ofcom investigation revealed that he had planned to rig an on-air competition in favor of his friend.
Namely, Shaw was to award two free tickets for a “Rolling Stones” documentary, but instead of running a genuine competition, he pre-recorded his friend’s entry and played it as ‘live’.
He then moved to Absolute Radio, as a presenter of their new show, “Absolution”, which was very similar in format to Tim’s previous radio show. In 2009, he won the Sony Award in the Best Entertainment Show category, shared with his co-hosts Roque Segade-Vieito and Eloise Carr. In 2010, Tim started presenting “Tim Shaw’s Rehab” on BRMB, along with “Networked”, which was broadcast by Orion Media.
As for his TV work, Tim made his debut in 2006, as Mr. Inappropriate in the British comedy game show “Balls of Steel”, which featured a series of comedy acts competing for a win. In 2008, he was featured as a host of the 14th season of the automotive TV show “Fifth Gear” which aired on Channel 5. In the next year, he started hosting “Extreme Male Beauty”, a documentary-style series, which exposed male beauty standards.
The series was particularly critical of the modeling industry, which tries to impose an unrealistic standard of what a male body should look like.
In 2012, Tim became the host of the popular National Geographic science show “Street Genius”, in which he conducted science experiments on the streets. It aired for only two seasons, but Tim left a great impression as a host, and was cast in their next project, “Car S.O.S.” in 2013. In the same year, Shaw conceptualized “True Tube”, an educational TV show which would feature him analyzing the engineering involved behind some of the craziest stunt videos found on YouTube. The show was supposed to air on Sky1 channel, but eventually moved to National Geographic, who stepped in and bought the rights in early 2014.
One of Tim’s most notable works as a presenter is his interview with Holocaust survivor Kitty Hart-Moxon. Conducted in 2006, and Tim initially expected that it would last around one hour, but it actually lasted close to seven hours. Tim believed that the way Holocaust history is taught is insubstantial, and wanted to have his interview with Mrs. Hart-Moxon played at schools.
The interview received stellar feedback, and Tim has revealed that he had received over 6,000 messages of people praising his work, while he also said himself ‘This has changed my life and the best thing I have done in a long time’.
While Tim has had a lot of success as both a radio and TV presenter, his career has been flooded with numerous controversies, especially in its early days, which might shock people who only know him through his work on “Car S.O.S.”. Back in 2005, when he was hosting “The Asylum” on Kerrang! Radio, Tim and his colleague Greg Prebble performed a mock robbery of the then-director of Kerrang! Radio, Andrew Jeffried, which was broadcast live on air. As a part of the ‘gag’, they also sprayed his room with obscene graffiti and smashed his windows, which resulted in Tim’s temporary suspension from the station.
This wasn’t only problematic stunt that Tim did during his time as “The Asylum” host; in 2007, he interviewed a couple who competed on his show, and was caught filming up the woman’s skirt with a webcam, and broadcasting it live on Kerrang! Radio’s website. After her husband realized what was happening, he punched Tim and the couple walked out of the interview.
Around that time, Tim also deemed to be in breach of Ofcom standards for broadcasting a live ‘phone call with his grandmother during which he said ‘Timothy Shaw has died today’ met with an audible gasp from his grandma, before he revealed that it was just a joke. On another occasion, he was investigated for pretending to do a mercy dash on air to ‘rescue’ a suicidal listener.
Tim was also known for performing outrageous acts during his time on the comedy show “Balls of Steel”, which involved him pleasuring himself in a corner shop, asking a hairdresser to cut his pubic hair, pulling his pants down in public, and more.
Tim ruffled some feathers with his work on the documentary series “Extreme Male Beauty” as well. In the second episode of the show, he explored the society’s relationship with male genitals, and various techniques which aim to increase their size. The episode featured a great deal of uncensored nudity, including close-ups of pubic areas, including a scene in which he practiced a masturbatory technique called jelquing. In another experiment, Tim and four other men put their genitals through a hole in a wall, so that a group of women involved in the experiment could discuss their appearance.
Perhaps the most hilarious incident involving Tim happened in 2005, when he interviewed the model Jodie Marsh for a Kerrang! Radio show, during which he told her that he would leave his wife of six years and their two kids for her. Understandably, his wife, Hayley took offence to his words, saying that they were ‘the last straw’ in their relationship.
Dzisiaj Warszawę odwiedził Tim Shaw, brytyjski prezenter, który całkiem niedawno dzielił się z widzami National…
In revenge, she put her husband’s Lotus Espirit Turbo, valued at more than £25,000, up for sale on eBay, for a measly £0.5, with the description saying ‘I need to get rid of this car in the next two to three hours before my husband gets home to find it gone and all his belongings in the streets’. It took less than five minutes for the car to be sold.
Where is he now?
Tim and his wife seem to have reconciled since, and are still married after more than 23 years. He also appears to have cleaned up his act, and hasn’t been involved in any controversies in recent years.
In the past few months, rumors have appeared online concerning Tim’s health, however, these have been debunked. It appears that they’ve come from the fact that his namesake, the
American football player Tim Shaw, is suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Scoliosis (ALS) which has caused the confusion.
How “Car S.O.S.” came to be
Tim has been hosting “Car S.O.S” since 2013, joined by Fuzz Townshend, musician, journalist and a mechanic. Although they appear to be polar opposites on the show, with Tim being a wildcard, and Fuzz being calm and collected, the two were actually friends long before the series started. In fact, Fuzz was the one to convince Tim to audition together for the show, and before they could even finished the screen test, they had confirmation that they’d been selected as hosts.
Much like Tim, Fuzz is also a multi-talented individual. Before appearing on the show, he had a successful music career behind him, and toured the US as a member of the band General Public. He was also the drummer for the band Pop Will Eat Itself, and as a solo artist his single “Hello Darlin” did quite well on the charts. However, growing up he’d actually dreamed of becoming a bus driver, and even took an apprenticeship with a bus company.
Although he didn’t stay in that line of work, his passion for all things automotive never perished, and during his spare time Fuzz continued working on restoring cars in his garage.
On the show, Fuzz actually leads a team of car restoration specialists, who mainly work off camera, while making occasional cameo appearances. Each episode starts with Tim and Fuzz picking up and reviewing the car they’re about to work on. Tim then usually talks with the friends and relatives of the person whose car is being restored, while Fuzz is inspecting the car itself. Tim then sets off to find all the parts needed for the car’s restoration, while Fuzz continues working with his team. In the end, Shaw invites the nominee and their relatives to a staged event, during which he reveals the finished product. This is always the highlight of each episode, both for the contestants’ reactions and for Shaw’s comedic approach.
The only exception to this format was the third episode of season three. It showed the process of restoring a 1962 Sebring Austin Healey Sprite, once driven by Sir Stirling Moss – who ordered the restoration – and the late Steve McQueen. Once completed, the car was permanently placed at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire, England.
Due to the popularity of “Car S.O.S.”, the British Motor Museum held a special exhibition of cars repaired by the show’s team, which ran from May 2018 until March 2019. ‘We get so many requests from viewers asking where they can see our cars, so this really is a perfect opportunity. The fact that the exhibition is at the British Motor Museum makes perfect sense – having been at the venue for two of our reveals – we have built up a good relationship with the team there, and know the cars are going to look amazing.’, said the show’s PR representative.
The exhibition was opened by Tim and Fuzz, and received many positive reviews from visitors, who had a chance to see classic cars such as a pre-WW2 Austin ‘Tilly’ truck, a rare AC Aceca sports car, and an Aston Martin DB6.
Secrets of the show
While “Car S.O.S.” stands as one of the most authentic automotive reality shows, it still has some secrets kept behind the scenes. Most viewers may not realize that some of the cars which were repaired on the show would be left unfinished. This is done purposely, because in some cases the owners still want to make tweaks to their vehicles themselves. It also makes sense considering the fact that the team has to deal with very strict deadlines, averaging around 18 days per car. If a car is in a particularly bad condition, they may have to put in 1,000 hours or more of work, which makes for quite a demanding schedule. In addition, each episode has a specific budget, which can be a limiting factor.
‘We would much rather have a huge budget and loads of time, but that’s just not the way it works.’, Fuzz said in an interview they did for the website Virgin Media.
Another problem that anyone who tries to restore a vintage car may run into is inability to find the right parts. Luckily, the “Car S.O.S.” team have found a solution in 3D printing technology, teaming up with Central Scanning Ltd., who helped them on several occasions by making the missing parts.
Another lesser known fact about the show is that the “Car S.O.S.” team do have their favorites. Although they try to provide equal care to every car which rolls into the shop, both Tim and Fuzz have been fascinated by certain vehicles more than the others. Tim revealed in an interview that his personal favorite is a Porche 356, while co-host Fuzz said that he likes AC Aceca the most.
Zwei geniale Automechaniker, eine Mission: Tim Shaw und Fuzz Townshend haben eine Woche Zeit, um alte Schrottkarren in…
The hosts have also revealed that even after nine seasons and more than 90 cars successfully repaired on the show, they still get nervous before each new reveal. As they said, each car holds a special meaning for their owners, and any mistake could mean that they’ve got rid of somebody’s memories
“Car S.O.S” season 10
The most recent season of “Car S.O.S.” started airing on National Geographic Channel in March 2022, beginning with an incredible makeover of a Fiat Uno Turbo owned by Gerry, who was left unable to fix his car after he was diagnosed with blood cancer.
One of the most moving episodes of the show follows the story of Steve Howe and his daughter Darcie, who lost her mother in the 2017 terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena. Before her tragic death, they wanted to turn their 1963 Citroen HY Camionette into a milkshake and coffee van, but their plans fell apart. The final reveal takes place at Old Trafford Stadium, with the help of Manchester United legends Bryan Robson and Wes Brown, making it one of the biggest reveals “Car S.O.S.” has ever had.