Ben Hatton, Racing Driver in the 2017 Ginetta Championship, defends the disappointment that is BBC’s Top Gear.
The series was judged a disaster
After the shocking exit of Clarkson, Hammond and May from BBC Top Gear in 2015, the BBC took the decision to continue the show. To do this they needed a new host. Chris Evans was gifted one of the most challenging and, to most people’s minds, fun jobs in the world. But how on earth could you follow the most watched factual TV show on earth? Unfortunately for Evans, he couldn’t, the series was judged a disaster, viewer figures fell overnight and no longer was Top Gear’s reign.
The Grand Tour came soon after to show us what a post Top Gear mk.1 could look like, but left people still wanting at times with itself trying too hard to be legally as close to the original as they could be. The chemistry still remained however. After the viewer failure of Evan’s show, a change of dynamic was required. The silly and crowded 6-host dynamic was dropped down to the only three vaguely likeable people on camera. Rory Reid, always brimming with enthusiasm and a man who never failed to speak to our inner 8 year old. Chris Harris, a very experienced and well considered motoring journalist and racing driver. Who does manage to give brilliant feedback whilst driving and always seems like he knows what he’s doing. And finally Matt Le Blanc, a man who needs no introduction. Matt cannot ever be accused of being anything other than an unadulterated petrolhead. And therein – with an appreciation for subtlety – lies his qualification.
So it came to mk.3. Gone were the silly gimmicks that came with mk.2, the track was returned to its rightful arrangement. Only one celebrity was invited, although now they featured throughout. Opening night came and a road trip in some incredibly high milers was on the cards. And they had Chris Harris out in the Ferrari FXXK. This, it seems at least, is a rather good recipe. And it was. The studio bits, yes, felt a bit scripted, the chemistry between the three is yet to be as per mk.1 and there are still kinks to be ironed out but this was finally a car show. It no longer felt like a forced overly enthusiastic façade of a long gone being.
Don’t get me wrong, this was far from perfect, the natural nature of the show is yet to come. But progress of this sort really does take time. The important thing is though for the first time since the “fracas” we can finally enjoy two car shows.