Top Gear Revamp Stuck in Reverse?

Image: BBC

Some say he’s an annoying ginger man with ridiculous glasses, frantically running around the stage. Some say he’s an actor trying to shrug off previous fame and typecasting. All we know is they’re called The new presenters of Top Gear.

Today was the eagerly anticipated new series of Top Gear. This was the first series since Jeremy Clarkson was controversially sacked by the BBC and his co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May opted to leave the show too.

Inevitably Top Gear fans couldn’t wait for the show to restart, firstly for their love for it but secondly and more pertinently to criticise the new format without the beloved trio of hosts.

Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc are spearheading the show. However, the new line-up of hosts replacing the Amazon-bound three also includes German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan, ‘YouTuber’ Chris Harris, motoring journalist Rory Reid as well as of course The Stig. However, it has been rumoured that the chemistry is not the same as the departing trio and is almost trying to be forced to recreate the erstwhile natural banter of the ex-hosts.

In this week’s build up to the shows comeback it’s had a great deal of negative press. However, just in case Le Blanc thought there hadn’t been enough criticism of his appointment and the blanket of controversy had been laid too thinly, he’s seemingly gone and been very naive on Twitter.

Phil Keen was previously speculated to be ‘tame racing driver’ The Stig, however, was never confirmed. Mysteriously, Le Blanc and fellow new presenter of Top Gear spin off Extra Gear, Rory Reid started following Phil Keen and vice versa.

Despite being linked with the show previously, Keen has no connection to the American actor turn Top Gear host and hence has prompted us to question has Le Blanc already revealed The Stig’s identity – a thing Clarkson managed to aptly avoid for 14 years?

Now the first episode has aired, the inevitable Twitter backlash of the revamp has begun:

Whilst some will argue a long-running show such as Top Gear always benefits from a revamp – it seems this is a revamp too far. They’ve tried to maintain the clever nuances that existed with the previous format. However, the producers seem to have forgotten that these nuances were born out of a natural relationship and dry wit from Clarkson, Hammond and May – which certainly didn’t exist to the same extent in the early seasons.

Whilst it may be a good tact to go back and look what made the show so successful in the past, you can’t put square pegs in round holes and tell Matt Le Blanc for example to be naturally witty on set whilst reading an auto-prompt. Similarly, you can’t tell Evans “remember, don’t be like Clarkson – but oh remember to be like Clarkson…”

The best word to describe this first episode of the new Top Gear is ‘confused’. The show is stuck between trying to avoid the mistakes of the Clarkson-era and retaining the show’s lovable qualities.

Because the erstwhile hosts of Top Gear were so beloved and the revamp had such negative press prior to airing, inevitably viewers were going to sceptically watch, nit-picking and comparing the new show to it’s predecessor.

However, it’s certain to say we’ve got to forget about what the show used to be and take the revamp as an individual entity. If Evans can step out of the shadow of Clarkson and relax, Le Blanc can use some of his great location-filming persona on set and the producers and writers can forget the old wittiness – the new Top Gear might survive and become its own show in its own right. If not, don’t worry, as Clarkson and co’s new Amazon show is set to air later this year, to fill the void the old Top Gear has left.

Comment below with your opinion of the first episode of the new Top Gear.

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