Grand touring in low gear
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.