Is The BBC's New Top Gear Doomed From The Outset? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Is The BBC’s New Top Gear Doomed From The Outset?

Following the recent announcement of a new cast, Matt McCrory asks if this 'new' Top Gear is destined for failure?

The full hosting team for the BBC’s new rebooted Top Gear was announced recently. Unfortunately for whoever the BBC entrusts with these kinds of things, it seems like the full force of the internet is unhappy with, the dare suggestion of diversity in a group of people professionally hired to talk about cars. Given that the main nay-sayers of this controversial cast could probably be pulled out of the woodwork by rounding up the mouthiest of members at a UKIP convention, I think that the new cast is a good and balanced choice that reflects the BBC’s choice to make a ‘car show about cars’ instead of a Clarkson-fuelled controversy magnet. It has got me thinking though, can the new Top Gear possibly be successful? Has it been doomed from the start?

The full line-up of new presenters

The full line-up of new presenters

But first, let’s have a totally non-professional look at the new kids on the block. From left to right we have Rory Reid, a presenter and online journalist chosen from open auditions undertaken by the BBC. I have some concerns that poor Rory is going to get singled out as a token black personality by those who self-describe themselves as ‘lads’ and think that a good night out consists of tins of Carling and casual domestic abuse. This is nothing compared to the outrage garnered by the presence of the next on the roster, Sabine Schmitz. Luckily for those Top-Gear-heads who have forgotten what women are, she’s been carefully decorated with a symbol of Venus in order to drive home the very anti-Top Gear idea that women have something to offer this genre. Those who have seen her in action before can certify that she’s pretty badass when it comes to knowing things about cars. So no problems from me. Everyone in the driving seat looks good to me so far.

'The new cast is a good and balanced choice that reflects the BBC’s choice to make a ‘car show about cars’ instead of a Clarkson-fuelled controversy magnet.'
Joey from Friends is also standing in what looks like the most reluctant police line-up in TV history, sadistically smiling away similarly to how Bieber looked after his Fast & Furious phase. Obvious Friends jokes aside, I’ve heard that Matt LeBlanc is also pretty good at talking about cars. He’s certainly an unexpected choice and one that seems to fit the old Top Gear shoes the most aptly. Chris Evans looks the most at home in his police line-up setting. His manic smile makes it seem like he’s kidnapped all the presenters that he can get and thrown them onto a Top Gear set. Dear old Chris comes from presenting fame and will doubtlessly be put forward as the lead of the show. We’ll see how Clarksonites react to that one over time.

For the sake of brevity, let’s rush through the last 3. Chris Harris is next on the roster; he’s a renowned car journalist who goes by the nickname ‘Monkey’. He’s got a pretty popular YouTube series, so check that out if you want a sneak-peak of his style. Eddie Jordan is the last name we can put to a face. He’s pretty clued up when it comes to Formula 1 and pretty clueless when it comes to picking shoes. That’s all I can derive from his Wikipedia page and his smug grandpa pose. The Stig takes his place at the end of the line, proudly standing as the last piece of furniture that Clarkson and co. didn’t have the rights to take across to Amazon.

So onto the big life questions: Can this reinvented franchise actually see success? It’s clear that the BBC are taking a drastically different direction when it comes to the new Top Gear. The new cast do seem like the right people to host a show focused on cars instead of smashing caravans. More importantly, I can’t envision any of them pulling a full on Clarkson and angering the entire nation of Argentina, saying that striking workers should be executed in front of their families or even attacking a show producer. Maybe that’s what doubters dislike about the new series, how entirely uncontroversial it seems. Scroll through Facebook comment sections (key sources for journalistic intrigue and human depravity) and you’ll see people condemning perhaps the most inexcusable crime: boredom.

'Perhaps the reinvented franchise would seem more fitting with a rebrand and rename to match.'
So yes, my cynical mind can’t help but to think that the new Top Gear is going to stall and it’s a real shame because the cast all seem passionate and charismatic enough to make a fantastic factual car show. Unfortunately, that’s not the reason why Clarkson’s Top Gear was the most popular show on TV. It provided big, dumb entertainment and that’s what the new breed seem to lack. I would really like the new Top Gear to see all the success it deserves, but unfortunately hopes and dreams don’t make a popular TV series. Perhaps the reinvented franchise would seem more fitting with a rebrand and rename to match.

So what do you think? Will you be tuning in to the new BBC Top Gear? Does Clarkson, May and Hammond’s new Amazon show appeal more to you? Are you outraged? For many, the chemistry that Clarkson and company bought to the table was what defined the show. You could put the three of them on Loose Women and you’d still attract millions of viewers. We’ll have to wait and see how well Evans and everyone else can get their engines running. There’s just one last question that’s running around my mind: does the new Top Gear even stand a chance?

Music Editor, English Language student and otherwise barely functional being. (@iamnotmatty)


15th February 2016 at 10:35 am

Last Updated

15th February 2016 at 10:59 am

Images from

BBC News and Top Gear