Grand tour­ing in low gear

Grocott's Mail - - MOTORING - By SAM SPILLER

Ifor one am un­able to de­scribe the va­ri­ety of re­ac­tions that were made in re­ac­tion to the sack­ing of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clark­son back in 2015.

Half the world cheered, the other half mourned the de­par­ture of the mo­tor­ing icon from a show that, un­der his pre­sen­ta­tion, had become the BBC’s big­gest tele­vi­sion ex­port.

At that point, Clark­son and his fel­low pre­sen­ters (and to be frank, their en­tire pro­duc­tion team) would dis­ap­pear from pub­lic broad­cast, work­ing on a new show heav­ily bankrolled by in­ter- net streamer Ama­zon Prime. Mean­while, the BBC would place their prized pro­gramme in the hands of co­me­dian and car en­thu­si­ast, Chris Evans, along­side a myr­iad of fresh faces. To say that prob­lems im­me­di­ately sur­faced, is also an un­der­state­ment.

From episode one, it was crys­tal clear what Evans and his team were set­ting out to do. At­tempt­ing to repli­cate Top Gear, mi­nus Clark­son, Ham­mond and May, and the ini­tial team of writ­ers and pro­duc­ers. It was as sup­pos­edly sim­ple as that.

While it may have started comedy may not have been for ev­ery­one, but there was a def­i­nite le­git­i­macy to their ar­gu­ing and bizarre es­capades. If you wanted sta­tis­tics about cars, you went to ITV’s Fifth Gear. If you wanted to see a statis­ti­cian run over by a car, you went to Top Gear.

And the BBC wanted to keep it that way.

Un­for­tu­nately for them, Evan’s comedy (and to a cer­tain ex­tent, fel­low pre­sen­ter Matt Le­Blanc) was not strong. At least, not strong enough to avoid us­ing canned laugh­ter above your live stu­dio au­di­ence. Which­ever way you turned, the show was los­ing ground. Now em­bark­ing, The Grand Tour. Two things are def­i­nite here Clark­son’s new show. The first be­ing that Ama­zon’s money was all over the screen.

The sec­ond was that money was be­ing used solely for the steroid-in­duced, whim­si­cal en­deav­ours of the three hosts, and less on ac­tu­ally re­view­ing cars. Any­one go­ing into this show ex­pect­ing to see the scoop on a new Porsche is go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed.

This is full-blown mo­tor­ing en­ter­tain­ment, dressed to the nines and sur­rounded by ex­plo­sions and bright red pranc- ing horses. The per­son­al­i­ties of three men are what carry this show, and while it does have its prob­lems (killing a celebrity every week gets old quickly), there is a def­i­nite iden­tity and hi­lar­ity to it.

With Evans hav­ing quit the re­boot and Le­Blanc tak­ing over at the helm, we wait to see what Top Gear can do to re­gain the pop­u­lar­ity that, in gen­uine truth, it de­serves. But in the mean­time, as a mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­ast, I have no prob­lem tour­ing the world with a man who in­sulted, among count­less other peo­ple, our wine­mak­ers.

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