The BEST Episodes of James May: The Reassembler
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Apr 24, 2021
Network: BBC Four
When we look around our homes, sheds and garages we see an array of household objects that with one click of a button or twist of a knob will spring to life, and - most of the time - do exactly what we want them to. But how on earth do these objects work? To find out, James May (fuelled by endless cups of tea) heads into his workshop with thousands of little pieces to assemble some of our most beloved and recognisable objects from scratch to see what it actually takes to get them to work.
#1 - Mini Motorcycle
Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Jan 11, 2017
As James May spends most of his spare time in his workshop tinkering around with old motorbikes, we thought we'd film it. James is faced with reassembling a 1970s Honda Z50A Mini Trail Motorcycle from all its 303 component parts. This exciting and portable mini motorcycle was fun for all the family and got a whole generation of kids hooked on motorcycles for the rest of their lives. This is an object James can't wait to reassemble, but along the way he faces a very real and very hostile battle with some springs, ponders over correct workshop etiquette and contemplates the lifelong debate - what's the difference between a bolt and a screw?
#2 - Christmas: Hornby Train Set
Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 28, 2016
Much like Santa Claus, James May has spent the year in his workshop getting ready for Christmas, in a festive special in which he reassembles his favourite childhood Christmas present. But this isn't just any Christmas present, this is the one that changed his life and sent him on to a path of mechanical intrigue and reassembly. This is the Hornby Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sounds which James ripped open on Christmas Day 1972. Laid out in all its 138 tiny component parts, James lovingly reassembles the train as well as his memories of Christmases and toys past. From the exhilarating re-magnetising of the motor's magnets to some thrilling wheel-quartering amidst a backdrop of James's continued bafflement of electricity, we watch as James rebuilds the entire train set and hopes at the end his Christmas wish will come true and the train will start up and realistically chuff into the night.
#3 - Food Mixer
Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 4, 2017
When it comes to cooking James May is not the first name that comes to mind, but when it comes to reassembling cooking appliances, James is your man. In this episode James reassembles the 135 parts that make up a 1960s Kenwood Chef a701a Food Mixer. This literal food revolution is responsible for mixing more cake batter than Mary Berry has mixed in her entire lifetime. On James' journey to reassembling the food mixer he comes face to face with some mind-boggling components that will all come together to work in unison in the hope of making a chocolate cake mix. From reassembling the planetary gear system and the AC electric motor James muses on the imperial measurement system and shows of his trendy new magnification head gear as he attempts some dreaded soldering.
#4 - Portable Record Player
Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 18, 2017
Back in the 1950s listening to music meant sitting around with your mum and dad and having to listen to whatever drivel they wanted, but thankfully along came the portable record player, which helped gave birth to the teenager and a magical music revolution. James May reassembles the past to hear what it sounded like as he pieces together the 195 parts of the game-changing 1963 Dansette Bermuda portable record player. James reminisces about his teenage years and what it was like growing up in the 1970s as he takes us on a journey through sound and mechanical wonderment. James falls in love with the beautiful mechanisms that lie in the belly of the beast, finds the perfect solution to his soldering dilemma and has a rather exciting new screwdriver to show us.
#5 - Lawnmower
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Apr 4, 2016
James is faced with the 331 pieces that make up a 1959 petrol lawnmower. The Suffolk Colt helped make mowing accessible to the masses by producing a smaller and affordable machine to keep our nation's lawns at regulation height. As this is a petrol lawnmower, James's first task is to put the engine back together before he gets to grips with the gearing, the clutch and the blades themselves. Armed only with his toolbox and an endless supply of tea, James experiences the highs and lows only possible when attempting to put history back together again, piece by piece.
#6 - Telephone
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Apr 5, 2016
James tackles a 1957 Bakelite dial telephone - 211 pieces, most of them very small indeed, must be reassembled in the correct order if this telephone is ever to ring again. From the receiver with its carbon filings that enable speech to be amplified, to the electrical pulses created by the dial itself that connect the phone to the outside world, James soon discovers that every single piece of the telephone played a crucial role in revolutionising communication around the world.
#7 - Electric Guitar
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Apr 6, 2016
James concludes his quest to truly understand everyday objects by putting them back together piece by piece with an electric guitar. 147 pieces must be reassembled carefully and in the correct order, which will entail soldering, extensive use of James's precision Japanese screwdrivers and some fiddly electronics. The electric guitar transformed the music industry and society itself and, channelling his namesake Brian, James will plug in his reassembled guitar and hope he put all the bits together correctly as he gets ready to perform one of most unexpected guitar solos of all time.