When Jeremy Clarkson's temper erupted, he bollocksed up Top Gear as we knew it. He got the boot from the show and his co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond resigned, opting to join Clarkson on a new car show. We went from Top Gear to Top Grrr.
What Clarkson did to his colleague is unforgivable. Any bullying or violence in any workplace is deplorable. He had to go. But in doing a stupid thing, he went taking with him all the good things that he can do. He is intelligent, he writes well, he can come up with very funny one-liners and he knows his stuff when it comes to cars and a lot of other things. May and Hammond too took their accomplished wit and wisdom and parted company with the show and lo and behold we lost a magical trio, a unit that had chemistry, a team that could blend serious commentary with ridiculous silliness. Since the demise of the three, oft-repeated episodes of old Top Gear demonstrate the genius of the show. I love the old format and the presenters. And I'm not a car guy!
Top Gear is such a global earner for the BBC and it was unlikely to be allowed to die. The brand is too precious. So the hunt was on for a new team, Chris Evans was the final choice as head presenter, actor Matt Le Blanc was drafted in, (presumably to retain a US audience's interest) alongside Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris and Rory Reid. Have I missed anyone? Sounds a bit top heavy to me but the show hasn't aired yet, so it is unfair to criticise it before we see it.
My problem with the show even before it hits the screen though is Chris Evans. I can't stand his presentation style. His voice grates on me. He joins an ever-growing list of celebrities that have me reaching for the off button on the remote control. I have seen Matt LeBlanc on chat shows and he is drearier than Eeyore but he might have a sparkling personality inside him that we have yet to witness. That's my opinion. I suspect there are millions of Evans and LeBlanc fans that will disagree with me. I am sure the new show will attract a large audience and it will be interesting to see how it fares. I wish it well but I suspect I will not stick with it in the long run. I will take at look at episode one and go from there. Again, it would be unfair to judge the show prematurely.
Today, Event magazine in the Mail on Sunday devotes 15 pages to the new show, supporting Chris Evans, their car columnist. It is a massive piece of publicity and it will not do any harm in teasing and tempting people to tune in on 22 May to see the first episode of the new format. I am sure the BBC will crank up the frequency of trailers over the next couple of weeks, as they must.
Chris Evans writes in the Mail on Sunday:
"You can't lose if it looks like you're on to a total loser from the outside. A lot of people have written the show off before it hits the air. Nothing I can do about that other than prove them wrong or confirm that they're right. But I know what's in the can."
Fair enough. Let's see.