Quit while you’re ahead.
Ok, it was never going to be easy filling the shoes of messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond. The solution, however, to this conundrum was easy: Then don’t even try.
But in their infinite wisdom, the BBC chose to carry on regardless. After all they know best, don’t they?
Instead of revamping the show, inventing an entirely fresh format to coincide with the arrival of a new presenting team, the producers of this show decided to keep the format exactly the same. Hedging your bets, I guess you could call it.
Star in a reasonably priced car (Do you want to see the lap?) The Stig, the lap times… It was all rather samey. Talk about missing an open goal. If ever there was a time to wipe the slate with a TV format, then this was that moment. Nerves, it seems, got the better of the producers.
Like a fairground salesman desperately trying to attract customers to his hook-a-duck stand, new host Chris Evans barked his way through the entire programme. He not only looked desperate, but he sounded it too.
Evans, it ought to be noted, is touted by the Beeb and their friends in the broadcasting industry as a major broadcasting ‘talent…’ with a pay packet to match. Hmm. From where I was sitting Evans looked like a man way out of his depth, his ‘talents’ cruelly exposed with each cringe-inducing minute.
What the BBC have failed to realise is that Top Gear was never about the cars, not really. It was all about the banter, the chemistry, the bickering and the bonhomie between its original presenters, a fact never more obvious than when witnessing the exchanges between Evans and co-host Matt Le Blanc.
No doubt there would have been some BBC executive congratulating him or herself on teaming together Evans and Le Blanc. Genius. Edgy. An odd couple. An anglo-american dream team, right? Wrong. Oh so very, very wrong.
Not since the infamous Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood BRITS debacle have a television duo looked so ill at ease.
Trying to whip up even a modicum of enthusiasm for their race to Blackpool would only have been possible with the help of a generous allowance of amphetamines. And when Le Blanc accused Evans of cheating a la Clarkson and co. an entire nation groaned.
While the bickering between Clarkson and his two amigos always felt genuine, was always engaging, always funny, Le Blanc and Evan’s little tiff was anything but.
Le Blanc, bless his heart, summoning up every ounce of his acting ability, tried to sound like he actually gave a toss, but he just didn’t. Nor did Evans. Nor did the studio audience. Nor did the television viewer. Nor did anyone for that matter. And oh how it showed.
Flat, uninspired, insipid, lazy… So where does Top Gear go from here?
Down the plughole, that’s where. Although a tactical withdrawal would be highly recommended if only to spare further blushes, I am sure the BBC will stick to their guns, see it out to the bitter end. After all, they know best…
While viewing figures will inevitably plummet expect to hear plenty of BBC memes describing the ‘mixed’ reception to the new show – TV speak for an unmitigated disaster.
And the ‘talents’ who contrived to ruin this show? Multi-million pound contract extension for Evans and promotion for the production crew. And Le Blanc sulks back across the Atlantic to write his memoirs which fail to even mention one word of his ‘English’ episode.
Meanwhile New Top Gear will stagger on for the next five weeks until some kindly soul, in the interests of humanity, will finally put an end to its suffering.
Caution: criticism of the new show may well incur the wrath of the Beeb. Thus you might well find yourself labelled as a ‘Little Clarkson’ or a ‘ginger-phobe’ in the weeks to come. Courage, mon brave.