Back on track?

Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid and Chris Har­ris re­turn for a sec­ond se­ries at the helm of Top Gear – and this time they’re feel­ing more con­fi­dent. The trio tell Ge­or­gia Humphreys about the fu­ture of the show, their on-screen dy­namic and up­com­ing stunts

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THE Top Gear pre­sen­ters are having a dis­cus­sion: who’s the worst at laugh­ing while film­ing?

Chris Har­ris ad­mits he strug­gles be­cause Matt LeBlanc “al­ways sets him off” (LeBlanc replies his fun­ni­est stuff doesn’t make it into the show).

Mean­while, Rory Reid is be­ing teased by both his co-stars for the clothes he wears – in this case, a mil­i­tary jacket em­bla­zoned with car­toon-ish badges.

“Just when you can’t think it can’t get any fun­nier, Rory turns up in an­other out­fit,” quips Har­ris.

One thing’s clear – the trio have def­i­nitely grown more con­fi­dent as they re­turn for a sec­ond se­ries of the BBC Two show.

“The show’s al­ways go­ing to be first and fore­most a car show,” notes 50-yearold LeBlanc.

“And I think what we’re try­ing to do is broaden the de­mo­graphic of the show, so that it’s not just ap­peal­ing to petrol­heads. It should be en­ter­tain­ing for the whole fam­ily.”

When a show has been around for as long as Top Gear has, there’s ob­vi­ously a huge fan base to impress. But LeBlanc doesn’t let that faze him.

“In terms of things like the rat­ings and the com­par­isons to the other show... you can’t worry about things that are out of your con­trol in life,” he says mat­ter-of-factly.

“We now un­der­stand the show we want to make,” con­fides 43-year-old motoring jour­nal­ist Har­ris.

“The chem­istry be­tween the three of us is stronger, so we know how to ir­ri­tate each other bet­ter – we know where the fun­ny­bone is.”

And the hu­mour be­tween the three also comes nat­u­rally, ac­cord­ing to Lon­don-born Reid.

“These two are hi­lar­i­ous to hang around with on a day-to-day ba­sis any­way,” he says of his co-stars.

“One of the things that Matt loves to fo­cus on is find­ing the funny el­e­ment in any sit­u­a­tion.”

Mem­o­rably, when Jeremy Clark­son, James May and Richard Ham­mond were in charge of Top Gear, they made head­lines for a cou­ple of high-speed crashes while film­ing.

Asked if the cur­rent pre­sen­ters are fear­less when it comes to the cars, Reid, 38, says: “I think we’re up for any­thing – the pro­duc­ers en­joy putting us in sit­u­a­tions that make us squirm.

“There’s a re­ally good mo­ment in the Moab desert when we were driv­ing up these nar­row roads. There’s a 200-300ft drop and there’s all these car wreck­ages where peo­ple have ob­vi­ously come off the side of the cliff. And as you’re driv­ing up you think, ‘What hap­pened to the peo­ple that were in those cars? They didn’t have an easy time of it.’ “

But while it sounds like there’s the odd scary mo­ment, and plenty of fast driv­ing, LeBlanc, who trav­els to Nasa to film an im­pres­sive stunt this se­ries, in­sists they’re all care­ful.

“At the end of the day, we’re not teenagers,” he says. “It’s not a race, there’s no prize – it’s a tele­vi­sion show. The prize is stand­ing here and be­ing able to do the next episode.”

The team have es­pe­cially en­joyed mak­ing the Top Gear films to­gether. There’s more sparkle, joy and laugh­ter in them now, says Har­ris, plus they’ve been “brave” with some of the treat­ment of cars.

“The [Citroen] 2CV is a bit of a de­par­ture for Top Gear,” en­thuses the pre­sen­ter. “That’s a car that, say, pre­vi­ously might have been ridiculed and blown up or thrown off of some­thing and it hasn’t been – it’s been cel­e­brated as a piece of en­gi­neer­ing.”

And as well as the on­screen chem­istry, it’s clear the three have a lot of fun be­hind the scenes to­gether.

Dis­cussing fans ap­proach­ing them while film­ing, Har­ris laughs about LeBlanc’s favourite gag: “Mon­day morn­ing, the first thing he’ll say to me is, ‘Do you know who was ask­ing about you this weekend?’ I’ll go, ‘Who?’ He’ll go, ‘No-one.’”

When it comes to the fu­ture of Top Gear, all three seem de­ter­mined to make it work.

“Ide­ally, what it should look like from the out­side is three guys having a blast,” says LeBlanc. “And it is, but it’s hard work - there’s a lot of ded­i­ca­tion and a metic­u­lous tone that we ad­here to.”

But you can bet they will con­tinue to keep on mak­ing the show their own.

“It’s not our thing to go places and put those places down,” the ac­tor elab­o­rates, ad­mit­ting how it was done be­fore was “a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent”.

“We go with wide eyes and an­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­cite­ment and hope­fully ful­fil­ment – that’s the way we like to travel the world.”

Top Gear re­turns to BBC Two on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 25.

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