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Stuck in First Gear?

Written by TV

After the dramatic exit of Jeremy Clarkson and co. last year,  Top Gear is set to return to our screens in July with a brand new line up. Ritwik Sarkar has a look at the seven new faces to see if they can match their predecessors

Some say the BBC have lost their marbles, and that bringing in seven new presenters is a great idea, all we know is, it’s not going to go down well.

Chris Evan’s appointment as the host of the re-booted Top Gear series, served as the death-knell for the show’s previous format, as all three hosts exited the show, following the firing of Jeremy Clarkson.

Lead presenter Chris Evans has a good reputation of replacing former hosts, replacing the late Terry Wogan in the presenter’s chair on the Radio 2 breakfast show. Things initially looked quite bad for Radio 2, as after a brief ‘honeymoon’ period, Evans shed one million listeners in 2010. By 2014 though, he’d turned things around and was hitting record highs. BBC will no doubt bank on lightning striking twice, although the task is a lot more daunting for two simple words –Jeremy Clarkson

No stranger to controversy, Jeremy Clarkson set the foundations for the show, that became Britain’s greatest export since Lancashire cotton. Evans has already taken a few jabs at the man he’s replaced, and while it might be light-hearted, it shows that Evans’ confidence is not on cloud nine.

Evans aside, BBC thought it a masterstroke to add six more presenters in an effort to provide better representation. The new cast contains motoring journalist Rory Reid, and former F-1 driver and pundit Eddie Jordan, a seemed to make sense.

Fan favourite, Sabine Schmitz, is likely to add an extra dimension to the show, as she is both a current racing driver, and a delightful on-screen presence. Her lapping of the Nurburgring in a van still serves as one of the show’s fondest memories, and one that many would like to see happen again.

Then however, came Matt LeBlanc. The collective female audience abused their star-struck emojis at the announcement. The announcement however seemed to draw the collective ire from the core motoring fans of the world. While that may be a sexist statement, the V-8 testosterone fuelled fan base that has made the show what it is, might need more convincing.

While a motoring enthusiast in his own right, LeBlanc’s appointment was possibly made to drive up their presence in the United States, where a combination of US Top Gear’s inability to achieve mainstream success, combined with Clarkson’s unsavoury comments about the nation has not endeared the show to the American majority.

The show did receive some positive PR from former host James May, commenting that he’d ‘like to see Chris Evans’ Top Gear do well’. He added further that ‘there must be a way of reinventing it. We always said it would survive beyond us.’

May’s comments however highlighted BBC’s biggest problem with the show- Its promotion. Rather than showing who the presenters are to the audience beyond England, they’ve taken to re-publishing old Top Gear videos starring the previous hosts, adding more hype to the Amazon re-make starring those very personalities.

Furthermore, Evans had stated that ‘The car, is going to be the star’ of the new show. Referring quite evidently to the electric chemistry of the show’s former hosts, Evan’s has made a critical erroring judging the show he’s about to adopt. Top Gear was never a show solely about cars. It was about ‘Three middle-aged blokes, going on an adventure” and that in essence is what had people hooked.

If people wanted an informative show about cars, they’d have watched Fifth Gear, Top Gear’s far less successful cousin. The point of rebooting something successful, is acknowledging what made it good, and building a new framework with that in mind

Though it’s easy to label the new show a ‘failure’ before it beings, the shows old format, a brainchild of Clarkson, was a bold step to recover the show after half a decade of failing ratings.

In order to make this reboot a success, Evans and co. will have to really push the envelope and deliver a new interpretation of a show that a lot of people know, and don’t want messed with. With seven presenters however, it almost seems like the BBC are grossly over compensating, by throwing everything at a wall and hoping that some of it sticks.

The new Amazon show will hang over BBC’s reboot like the ghost of Christmas past, but the BBC have proven themselves a creative workforce time and time again. Time will inevitably tell if their gamble pays off, but as things stand, the bedding-in period could well serve as the shows death knell.

Last modified: 22nd February 2016

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