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From left: OJ Borg, Joel Johnson, and Greg Foot from BBC AMERICA's 'Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers' (Photo: BBC AMERICA)
From left: OJ Borg, Joel Johnson, and Greg Foot from BBC AMERICA's 'Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers' (Photo: BBC AMERICA)
From left: OJ Borg, Joel Johnson, and Greg Foot from BBC AMERICA’s ‘Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers’ (Photo: BBC AMERICA)

The highly popular tech blog Gizmodo takes a plunge into the deep blue sea of original programming with their first-ever TV special, Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers, which premieres Monday (March 18) at 10:20 pm ET after the Top Gear season finale. In this pilot, the Gizmodo team put an assortment of doodads to the ultimate test in some slightly mad — sometimes death-defying — stunts.

Like Top Gear, Gadget Testers features a trio of adrenaline-junkies (alongside fourth host Veronica Belmont) engaged in a constant, primal state of oneupmanship. OJ Borg and Greg Foot represent Team Blighty, with Gizmodo editor-at-large Joel Johnson holding it down for the Yanks. For Anglophenia, we asked OJ, Greg and Joel to debate the merits of things that often function differently between our two nations — light switches, credit cards — but first, of course, all of our minds quickly went into the toilet, a.k.a. the lavvie, the can, the Porcelain God, that big white throne where humans spend much of their waking lives.

We present to you the exchange we received from the lads. It’s both culturally educational and, erm, cathartic:

OJ Borg: American toilets for me are a fantastic example of the exhibitionist nature of the country as a whole. In the U.K., the toilet is a place for quiet reflection, the reading of a choice book and, if absolutely necessary, the expulsion of digested scones and crustless cucumber sandwiches.

The first thing I ever noticed when I first managed to convince your border police that I wasn’t a national security threat, covered in mad cow disease or a communist was that an American public toilet is a stage. The doors are not doors. The doors are merely brief closing flaps that might just about cover your genital region but no more. And they have gaps around them which I’m sure are not just bad measurements. I want peace whilst in there, not the ability to have a rousing conversation about the state of the Sox’s short stop and his lack of a bunt game with a guy washing his Stetson in the sink. The only bunting whilst in there should be between you and your bottom.

Secondly, once I have done my business, I don’t then want it displayed in a watery gallery like a morose brown Koi carp who just wants to go home.

I like peace, silence, a glory hole and no more. Although, if I do have to change, then the Japanese might be onto something with this… I think Greg has one already.

Joel Johnson: Well, OJ, we have a phrase here in the States: “You think your sh** doesn’t stink.” Sure, fine, we don’t have toilet stalls that are private estates with a personal butler to refill the bidet with champagne, but that’s because Americans don’t try to hide the fact that we’re hooting, filthy primates who created civilization primarily to build permanent holes in which to defecate. (Or as we say here, to underline the confidence with which we do everything, DEFINITECATE.)

In this egalitarian society, we don’t trifle with classist bathroom business. That CEO of a multibillion-dollar oil company? He’s dropping trou right next door to me, where I can check out his cowboy boots just as easily as I can see the schlub in the stall opposite wearing flip-flops and reading a stack of books. It’s the kind of humility and sense of history that gave us the fighting strength to beat you lime-suckers back to Knifecrime Island after you bombed Pearl Harbor.

Our toilets are so populist we label half of them as “American Standard.” (In fairness, our richest poopers will occasionally upgrade to a functionally identical but twice-as-expensive German variant, so I guess some things will never change.)

Not that I want to sound like I’m spoiling for a fight! In conciliation, I offer this: the French poop on a shelf, when there’s perfectly sanitary water just an inch away. So it could be worse.

OJ Borg: I think you’ll find that the Germans and the Austrians who have the shelf of doom. Apparently they need to check there isn’t anything in their poop that shouldn’t be (like small animals, door handles etc.). The French just use holes. Or hollowed out baguettes. I forget which.

Greg Foot: I’ll leave you boys to the sh**-talking. (Pun-tastic.) I’m going to throw some light on light switches. What is up with that? Quite literally: you guys over the pond flip your switch up to turn it on?

Imagine this: You stumble home after a few too many jars (translation: pints), fumble for your keys (which are probably in the bottom of your man-bag, Joel. Sorry, fanny pack. *chuckles to himself*), fall through the door and thrash around wildly for the light switch. (Like a child’s first ice-skating attempt. And both end with face-plants. Fancy that.) In the U.K., the odds are on for your flailing arms to hit the switch *down*, turning the lights on. Disaster averted. Not stateside I’m afraid. That sh**s gonna get messy as you flip your photos of Elvis off the wall.

Oh and the ultimate put-down: you might not share toilet styles with the French, but you’re in bed together when it comes to stupid light switch directions. And you are both mal.

OJ Borg: I was asked by an American this very weekend about which way was correct for the switch to be on so he could charge his phone.

My first instinct was to mock him for his foolish closed-mindness but as he was Ken “The Worlds Most Dangerous Man” Shamrock, I decided to bravely swallow my mocking and help him whilst agreeing that yes, the way we have our plugs in the U.K. is stupid.

Joel Johnson: “We usually just have our butlers plug things in.”

OJ Borg: And we know how that turned out for Mr. Deeds.

Greg Foot: I love how your American sockets look like a startled E.T.


OJ Borg: I think that looks like someone has plugged something in on the wrong side of it.

Joel Johnson: Our new plugs now look like frightened ghosts recreating the ending scenes from Requiem for a Dream.


OJ Borg: AWESOME! I want built in USB connectors.

It also looks like the start of Human Centipede.


Check out the trailer for Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers here.

What are some items that you’ve found function differently between the U.S. and the U.K.? Which side gets it right, in your opinion? Tell us below:

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By staff