Top Gear still has petrol in it’s tank

Top Gear is not dead. To be honest allowing it to die was never going to be an option for the BBC: it is, after all, one of their biggest shows and greatest worldwide exports. What we saw last night was not the flop I feared and was half expecting. As my dad said in his comment to yesterday’s entry, ”Chris Evans shouted too much, and did a poor Jeremy Clarkson impression, but apart from that the programme was OK. I did get a vague hint that they intend to sell the programme in the USA :)” I think dad hit it on the head: yes, there were spots of imitation; Evans often used Clarkson’s famous catch phrases, such as ”some say” when introducing the stig. But they were careful not to let it go too far or to let it slip into repetition or parody. They kept the essential formula the same but didn’t try to pretend nothing had changed. I thought Chris Evans acquitted himself well, binging in his own style but with a few nods to what went before. As David Sillito puts it here, ”The reinvention of Top Gear in 2002 by Clarkson probably owes something to the atmosphere and irreverent energy of a show like Evans’s TFI Friday.” Bringing in the presenter of the show which the new-look Top Gear was probably largely based upon was a good idea. Evans still has the energy to carry it off. As for Matt Leblanc, I’m not entirely sure why he was there, other than, as Dad says, to appeal to the american audience. What does Joey from friends have to do with cars? Then again, I saw sparks of promise in him last night – maybe he’ll come into his own in future shows.

Top gear, then, is far from dead. It clearly has a life beyond it’s original presenters. What we saw last night was, I felt, promising and encouraging. The question now is, where do they go with it, and can they keep it up?

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