Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 13:54 UK

Top Gear plan Belfast Italian job

The Italian Job
The Turin car chase is considered a movie classic

"Hang on lads, I've got a great idea," was the sentence made famous by Michael Caine at the end of the Italian Job.

But it might also apply to the Top Gear team as they have come up with a plan to copy the famous film by racing Minis through Belfast's sewers.

A spokesperson for the BBC show said presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May hoped to film the race through the city's new six-mile sewer network in the coming weeks.

In past shows, the three have raced to the North Pole, driven across the African continent and sailed cars across the English Channel. However, it is the first time they have raced underground.

The original scene sees a gang led by Charlie Croker, played by Caine, hatch a plan to steal $4m in gold destined for banks in Turin before making their getaway in three Mini Coopers.

The city's sewerage system makes the ideal route for the little cars, which are chased through the tunnels by the Carabinieri.

Although the entrance and exits in the film's sewer sequence were shot in Turin, the "in tunnel" footage was shot in a sewer in Coventry, which was under construction at the time.

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May
NI Water approached Top Gear about the project

A NI Water spokesperson said the company put forward a number of proposals to the BBC last year and the idea to film a Top Gear episode at the Belfast Sewers Project was developed from there.

"NI Water enters into negotiations with many organisations and specialist journals and magazines in order to promote the £100m Belfast Sewers Project, one of the biggest civil engineering projects in the UK," she said.

Tunnelling work on the project to replace Belfast's Victorian-era sewerage system began in 2005.

The scheme is scheduled for completion early next year.

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