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More Movement for Top Gear

TV Critic Dan Alcock examines whether the BBC's choice for new Top Gear Hosts will fuel the show in the right direction

British favourite Top Gear is facing its biggest shakeup in years as a new hosting line-up has been announced. TV’s Dan Alcock debates whether the show can still be saved.

It’s hard to believe that Top Gear has survived the past few years; it seems to be a property that the BBC just cannot let go of. In an unexpected move, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness are now confirmed to be taking the driving seat from Matt LeBlanc, along with previous presenter Chris Harris. This will be the show’s biggest change since the departure of Clarkson, Hammond and May, an era that the series has since been living in the shadow of. But were these newcomers the right choice? Will they be able to save Top Gearfrom its falling ratings?

The initial revival of the show following Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous ‘incident’ with a producer was bumpy at first. Nonetheless, the past few series have allowed Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid to recreate the format of the show whilst maintaining its core values. These three begun to develop a chemistry that was delightful to watch, and the balance between comedic entertainment and genuine automania had finally returned… enough to rival previous hosts’ show The Grand Tour.

Having recognisable faces to steer the show may help maintain this international audience

LeBlanc’s departure is a massive blow to this working formula, but initially comfort could be found in the fact that Harris and Reid were seemingly remaining and could potentially make the show their own. However, the BBC were likely concerned that these two were not familiar enough to represent the image of Top Gear. It’s important to remember that Top Gear has a huge worldwide market, being broadcast to over 200 countries, and the merchandise alone has brought in a lot of revenue for BBC Worldwide. Therefore, having distinctively recognisable faces to steer the show into the future may help maintain this international audience.

The strategy does make sense. Flintoff is known for his versatility, not only from being one of the most famous cricketers of the modern era, but more recently from his foray into media. In particular he won the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity, perhaps an attractive accolade to television producers as it shows his popularity for a separate and large national audience. On the other hand, Paddy McGuinness represents the quintessential British bloke. For the UK audience he is popular for being the star of Take Me Out, and his friendly nature could positively translate over to other territories.

One replacement for Matt LeBlanc may have been enough, so introducing two new hosts adds an element of uncertainty

However, it is baffling that the decision has been made to fully shake the team dynamic again. Rory Reid was a fantastic host, he provided some thoughtful and inspiring features on cars that he expressed raw emotion about. Demoting him to solely present secondary show Extra Gear is an insult to his ability. Chris Harris is good, but presenting appears to come less naturally to him. It was the developing friendship and natural wit that developed between the two that helped the series recover from the Evans era. One replacement for Matt LeBlanc may have been enough, so introducing two new hosts adds an element of uncertainty.

Opinions on social media have been less than keen. Once again people are claiming that Top Gear is dead for good, although that is exactly what has been said for the past few years and so far, it has not been the case.

Is this the end for Top Gear? Only time will tell. Hopefully the BBC know what they are doing, and we could be about to see a fresh new lifespan for the popular series. Without LeBlanc and Reid, the future is undetermined, but Flintoff and McGuinness could prove everyone wrong.

Second Year Geography Student (@dan_alcock)


14th November 2018 at 7:00 am

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