When the BBC decided to continue with Top Gear after they decided to ‘not renew’ Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, it was always going to raise eyebrows as to how the revived show would fare. It’s fair to admit that the show fronted by Chris Evans last series was not that successful (Although it was hardly the ‘flop’ that many had claimed), so much so that Evans parted ways with the show after that series, seemingly condemning the Top Gear name into the shadows of the new Clarkson-led show, The Grand Tour. Yet more reform came about with Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid being the 3 lead anchors for the show, much like in previous Top Gear with Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. For many (such as myself), this new revival has been a hit, bringing the joy of 3 mates having a laugh while also being serious about the cars. However, when looking at the social media reaction of Top Gear under LeBlanc et al., there remains a good section of viewers that remain severely critical of the direction Top Gear has taken, something I take issue to.
Much of the latter Top Gear under Clarkson was orientated around the characters of the presenters rather than the cars. Often there would be controversy from their actions and viewers would rather see them go on ‘adventures’ rather than focus on the motoring aspect, something that was carried over to The Grand Tour. The sly digs by Clarkson at the poor reception to Top Gear was apparent in The Grand Tour, reciprocating on those fans that loved the show for the anchors, yet this did not stop many from choosing to give Top Gear a chance. For Evans/LeBlanc’s Top Gear, it was obvious that they wanted the reverse of what Clarkson offered. Yes, it was key that they made the show entertaining to captivate the audience, but they wanted to place the cars at the forefront again, something that was going missing in the latter series under Clarkson.
It’s clear that we now have two car shows with completely different directions in their strategy. One focused on cars with entertainment as a bonus, and another arguably at vice versa. But there is still so much criticism for Top Gear in favour of The Grand Tour. It’s obvious that many choose to dislike Top Gear under LeBlanc because ‘It isn’t Clarkson’ and feel The Grand Tour is much more to their taste in terms of entertainment, which is of course their entitlement to do so. But before you make judgement, let me appeal to your senses before you put the nail in Top Gear’s coffin. The reason many are so engrossed and appealed to The Grand Tour and even Clarkson, Hammond and May is because of the passion they have for cars. In my eyes Top Gear has revived this passion, ESPECIALLY in the latest ongoing series which has featured 2 excellent episodes. The chemistry LeBlanc, Harris and Reid have with one another is entertaining itself, much like what Clarkson, Hammond and May have, and is part of the reason why Top Gear has done so well so far in Series 24.
There shouldn’t be a comparison between the two shows because they have completely different directions with how they are seeking to attract an audience. But for those wanting to make a comparison, I’ll ask you this. Give Top Gear another chance. Watch it from a ‘motoring perspective’ and I promise you that you will be pleasantly surprised. Having one car show was thrilling enough for some people before Clarkson’s acrimonious exit from the show, but having two is something we should cherish, not use one as a yardstick to compete against the other.