The new series of Top Gear, hosted by Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid and Chris Harris got under way last week. I am one of those people who could happily watch an hour or Top Gear every week of every year but short sharp bursts will have to suffice. What’s better is that we now have the ‘Grand Tour’ AKA Top Gear 2 with our old cohort of presenters. But….. is the BBC’s flagship (motoring) show still missing its former aging presenters: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May?
For me the end of TG of old was a bonus as we now get it twice (in effect). So, the first ‘new’ series was not as bad as the media and Chris Evans himself let on. Short of setting fire to the Houses of Parliament or launching a new Mazda to the moon there was never going to be an instant love for what had become familiar. Can you believe TG had over 13 years and over 20 series under its belt before Clarkson finally overstepped a line that was in reality already several hundred miles behind him. That’s not a dig at Jeremy Clarkson, that’s a dig at how News and Social media means that there are now 50 million critics out there all ready to pounce.
But I’ve gone off on a tangent to old TG, so back to new TG. A few minor issues aside, there is nothing I can say that isn’t largely positive about the new presenters. It’s not the gleaming metal and strange ‘contests’ that make TG, it’s the presenters and I think that once our new 3 are settled in and it’s no longer a ‘new thing’ we will enjoy it as much as we ever did. I agree that Evans had to go but only with hindsight. He was theoretically the right man for the right job but it’s clear that he was the ring master and it works better when there is equality. Early TG was very much the Jeremy Clarkson show with Richard and James there to assist. But over the years each became as much a part of the show as the next and the dynamic worked. They were a tripod, lose any one of the three and it would fall over, maybe not immediately, but it will fall over.
Meanwhile….. on Amazon Prime TGT (not to be mistaken for TG) went its own way; killing off countless celebrities before they could plug their latest film/song/book/show/policy; breaking cars and doing challenges. So far, then, so good. TG just gives us another motoring show that uses all the tricks learnt from a decade plus of trial and error and will see us through what I hope will be at least another decade.
I think that Joey, sorry Matt, is a great person to have on the show. He has always seemed to be a pretty decent chap and is doing this for love, not money. I was most impressed by the air of calm between them because when Chris Evans was in charge TG had felt panicked and that excessive effort was required from every presenter to make it feel as ‘in your face’ as Clarkson.
I hate the media, I really do. I stopped watching the news as it seemed to me that the media were making as much news as they were reporting; did nobody learn anything from the News of The World debacle? Chemistry takes time so I pray and hope that if ratings continue to go the way they did last series, TG doesn’t become something I will tell the Grandkids about because it no longer exists. Surely 80% as good TG is better than no TG. Oh, and in case you don’t recall, seasons 1 to 3 of TG with Clarkson et al, it was a bloody mess and not even the Dave channel show them.
I do still think Chris and Rory need to relax, and maybe Matt needs to not be quite so relaxed but we are talking about entertainment TV, not solving world hunger! I am convinced that over time they will develop some kind of on screen relationship and some ‘isms’ we can laugh about. We will then have new TG (version 3.1). Please people (and media) don’t blame the presenters. They really do know what they are doing. They didn’t get this job by accident, they got it because of a passion for the show, for cars and ultimately their characters!
At Schools Plus when we take over at a new site we generally (in my experience) become the Rory, Chris and Matt. The people at the school remember how it was before and are familiar with things as they have been. Caretakers (Jezza, Capt. Slow & the short one) with 20 years’ service and a way of doing things that are done that way because it’s the way it’s always been. Schools Plus comes along and makes changes and improvements to make it a better place but it often takes 2 or 3 seasons for people to see that actually: We do know what we are doing; we do have the schools best interests at heart; we do help generate revenue for the school; and we’re a nice bunch of people. Although, like on TG, a lot happens behind the scenes it’s our venue staff who are our presenters. So we may not be perfect for the first season as we learn our trade but by season 3 you will be wondering how good season 20 will be.