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You may have read some scant details about our festive special in the papers this week. We can confirm their veracity. This Boxing Day Jeremy, Richard and James will be attempting their toughest task yet: passing themselves off as ‘three wise men’ while recreating that famous journey following a star to Bethlehem.

SPOILER ALERT: Those who want to keep it a surprise, stop reading here.

If you’re undertaking a journey of 1,200 perilous miles across countries and regions like Kurdistan, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel, taking in inhospitable stretches of obscure mountain and desert, one’s choice of vehicle is paramount. A 4x4, perhaps. Something rugged. Dependable. Lots of easy-to-find parts lying about in out-of-the-way garages would be handy. Our long-feted Toyota Hilux, perhaps?

No. Our presenters chose a fleet of second-hand convertibles: a Mazda MX5, BMW Z3 and Fiat Barchetta.

The opening scene should give you a clue of the perils to follow: a Russian transport plane with cars on board pulls into a darkened, unidentified airport. It’s in Iraq. The pilot opens the cargo doors thousands of feet up, but an aborted landing means a sudden steep climb with the doors still open. Richard can take up the story for you:

“Any initial concerns about where we were landing and what we were going to do when we got there paled in comparison to sitting in the driving seat of an elderly two-seater roadster, staring out of the open back door of a Russian transport plane going backwards at a million miles an hour while the pilot seemed to be wrestling a bear in the cockpit. And yes, I did scream. A lot. I still am inside.”

There’s also a drag race across one of Saddam’s runways, Jeremy has to protect his car from gunfire in a hair-raising moment, and a disguised sneak across the Syrian desert doesn’t exactly go to plan. Jeremy also addresses the question that crops up after every nativity play: ‘What exactly is myrrh, and where do you buy it?’

The Three Wise Men Christmas Special will be on BBC2 on Boxing Day at 8pm. Not only that, Top Gear will be back with another new episode just five days before on Tuesday 21 December at 8pm on BBC2. And then the series proper begins early in the New Year. Full TV listings details are at the Radio Times as always.

We hope you enjoy it, and check back as always on for more details and exclusives around the new shows in the coming weeks…

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