Top Gear vs Top Gear

Top Gear, DriveWrite AutomotiveYou are either a fan of Chris Evans or you are not. To some he is the cheeky chappie of TV and radio and to others he is, like an itch you can’t scratch, a total irritant. For the record I will state that DriveWrite is firmly in the camp of the latter. But, fair do’s, just because I don’t like his public persona doesn’t mean that I won’t give new Top Gear a chance. One chance. For me it stands or falls on the first episode. I don’t do things I don’t like more than once.

Early signs are not good. As Evans searches for a sidekick, it is reported that Jodie Kidd, who is a proper petrolhead, has ruled herself out. Not because she doesn’t approve – Evans is a friend, it seems – but because the commitment would be more than she wants or needs.

Then there’s the sainted Suzi Perry; she who can do no wrong. She has told the press that although her name is in the frame, she has not yet been approached with a firm offer. It may not be the job for her because of worldwide F1 commitments and it would be an absolute tragedy if she packed that in.

She has commented in print however that she wonders if the producers might go with the Chris Evans posse idea of old. Remember the Zoo Squad on his Radio One Breakfast show? A bunch of baying acolytes and sycophants whose job it was to make him look good. Doesn’t bode well does it? TFI Friday with cars. The old guard proved that the most important factor on Top Gear was that the presenters knew their stuff. Chris Evans knows his cars but what about the rest? Will the show be chrisified, crucified or correct?

Meanwhile, in the away changing rooms, Amazon are betting huge sums on the old geezers repeating the success story of Top Gear of legend. The BBC, because of the huge salaries paid to its many, many executives and Mary Berry simply won’t be able to match the budget. Money alone doesn’t guarantee success of course but it is hard not to think that it is going to be a one horse race.

BBC Top Gear may well be popular with Chris Evan’s many fans but will they be watching for the wrong reasons and will the show be pitched at that fan base, lessening its appeal to petrolheads? Or will Amazon’s Three Amigos have dropped the reins after such a long lay-off? Has their time gone? I’m looking forward to the contest very much – even though I will have to buy bloody Amazon Prime in advance to find out.
Geoff Maxted