BBC Two

Is The New Top Gear A Complete Mess?

Earlier today it was announced that ‘Friends’ star and petrolhead Matt LeBlanc will join Chris Evans on the Top Gear reboot. Huh?

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We’re all familiar with LeBlanc’s previous appearances as a guest on the BBC motoring show, but naming the actor as a host feels a bit left field. The announcement comes after recent rumors that Chris Harris and Sabine Schmitz would join Evans as the show’s other new hosts. Neither have confirmed whether or not they’ll be taking part, but Schmitz did appear to be with Evans during a recent bout of car sickness on set. There have also been reports of unrest between show producers and Evans who wants the same creative control Jeremy Clarkson had at the helm. For obvious reasons, nervous BBC executives are keeping much tighter reigns on the reboot.

LeBlanc will join production immediately with the other hosts announced shortly. Clearly the BBC will be eager to get the show back on air before Clarkson, Hammond and May premier on Amazon Prime.

I’m not sure we needed another Top Gear reboot. Lets be honest, it was the chemistry between the three hosts that kept everyone coming back long after the show stopped being about cars. Even if the old show hadn’t come to the abrupt end that it did, it was already nearing the end of its run. With all the excellent automotive content online from /DRIVE, Harris himself, EVO and many others, this reboot feels a bit Top Gear Australia.

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What would the chemistry be like between LeBlanc, Harris, Schmitz and Evans? My first thoughts of Harris and Schmitz when thrown into the rumor mill were that they were too good for Evans who seems more content looking at cars than driving them. It’s the most coveted gig in the automotive world, however the BBC seems like they need this to be a hit a little too badly, they seem a bit desperate.

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Ultimately the fans will decide if the new Top Gear is worth watching. I joined Amazon Prime last month.

Photos courtesy of BBC & Amazon.

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The Wait Is Over (Almost)

For me there’s television and then there’s Top Gear, which occupies another space entirely. It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen new episodes of the World’s most popular show and I’ve been having some serious withdrawals. Luckily normal service is resumed on Sunday January 27!

Based on some of the reports and spoilers going around, Series 19 is going to be a doozy. I can’t wait!

Video courtesy of BBC.

Friends Old & New

Those that know me personally, know that Top Gear is near and dear to my heart. Yes, I’m talking of course, about the UK version and not that horrendous, half-witted, General Motors propaganda, we get in the US. For me, the UK version has sort of transcended the realm of a mere television show and become something of a close friend. It’s the friend I’ve found myself spending countless hours with. The one who was there, when I was the new kid in school or deailing with some of life’s curve balls, we all get pitched. The obsession runs deep, so deep that I’ve watched every episode, of every season, half a dozen times or more. Top Gear has always been a constant and for that, I’ll forever cherish it.

Friends change though. In recent years my beloved Top Gear has become more of a variety comedy hour, than a balls out motoring journal. That isn’t to say I don’t still find pleasure, in hanging out with Jezza and Captain Slow, but things are different now. These friends of mine, don’t seem to share the same passion they once did; especially my old pal Hamster, who seems devoid of any interest in cars, period.

That’s where Chris Harris comes in. DRIVE’s resident car thrasher, has become a weekly fixture on my computer and many of yours. He’s the kind of guy Top Gear purists, would be happy to call their friend. Week after week, Harris awes and inspires with insightful and supremely entertaining automotive journalism. Last week was a tribute to some of the WRC’s valedictorians, at a Pirelli tires event. This week, German estate cars are on the menu.

In a sense, Chris Harris is doing what Top Gear used to do so well. He’s reviewing cars and having a hell of lot of fun doing so. While the Top Gear boys continue to live out their rock star fantasies, in a stadium world tour, Chris Harris is here to pick up the slack.

Many rumors have been swirling about when Top Gear will give it’s final curtain call. Will the show continue with new hosts and a fresh format? Only time will tell, but if Harris was ever up for the job, he’d certainly get my vote. Subscribe to DRIVE’s YouTube channel to get your Top Gear fix, until the boys are back in January.

Video courtesy of DRIVE.

The Stig No More

If any of you are fans of Top Gear then you’re probably well aware of all the drama surrounding The Stig’s “coming out party”.  It’s been rumored for the longest time that Formula 3 veteran, Ben Collins was indeed the show’s tame racing driver. Well, long story short, Collins has admitted his identity in preparation of an upcoming autobiography (a breech of his confidentiality agreement with the BBC). It doesn’t seem like the Top Gear team is loosing sleep over it though. The Stig’s helmet has already been filled by another driver and he made an appearance at the Nürburgring over the weekend. If you’re interested in a bit of reading, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman, wrote  great post on his blog, discussing the circumstances. The Mirror also published an article earlier today.

Series 15

If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you’ll know that Top Gear is currently in it’s 15th series on BBC Two. For those of you in the United States, like myself, head over to FinalGear for the latest episodes and series updates. I haven’t been blown away yet by the current series, but overall it’s still far beyond 99% of anything on American television. I also thought this picture of Clarkson and Hamster was pretty funny!

5 Stars

If you’re looking for a great way to spend 5 hours and want to learn something, absolutely watch Wonders of the Solar System. My friend turned me onto this mini-series produced by the BBC and hosted by particle physicist, Brian Cox. The series is both inspiring and informative, it opened my eyes to things I never would’ve considered or looked into otherwise. The production value is top tier; it’s beautifully shot and visually stunning in true BBC fashion. I’m sure Wonders of the Solar System is available via torrent, but I watched it through YouTube in HD. Unlike years past, it’s cool to learn. There are so many amazing series and documentaries out there with Hollywood-like production quality. It’s a pretty cool time and I think it’s great that channels like Discovery are now the most popular on cable. Everyone’s interest in learning and watching documentaries will only continue to fuel production and allow them to further push the envelope. Brian Cox is currently filming followup to Wonders of the Solar System. It’s called Wonders of the Universe and he’ll be investigating everything outside of the boarders of our solar system. It should be out sometime next year.

Top Gear South America

I just finished watching Top Gear in South America. Finally a proper episode in a season that hasn’t really stood up to the rest. This was as good, if not better than their Vietnam special last Christmas. The visuals are stunning and it’s great to see the hosts being themselves again. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you watch it in HD.

More Top Gear Live & Fifth Gear Canceled?

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Came across this pretty cool digital rendering. Reminds me of the old school Drew Struzan movie posters for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, except for Top Gear’s race across Japan. Anyway, the world’s number one show should be making a return next month with all new episodes in HD! It’s about time the BBC started broadcasting the show in high-definition. The guys are also taking their popular Top Gear Live show on tour again which I can’t seem to understand. I think last series severely lacked it’s usual excitement because of all the money and time they spent doing Top Gear Live. Since it doesn’t come to America, I say screw the tour and bring the show back to it’s usual standards. On the other side of the spectrum, Top Gear’s rival, Fifth Gear has been canceled. There’s no word on why, but I can guess it had to do with the show’s slowing popularity and the obvious similarities to it’s counterpart.

The Wait Is Nearly Over

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One week from Sunday, June 21, Top Gear finally returns to BBC Two. Ever since I started watching the show back in 2004, it’s always aired a series in the winter and a series in the summer, no big deal. But this time around the wait has felt especially long. I think part of that is because the last couple series have been pretty short with only 6-7 episodes, as opposed to the usual 10. Regardless, I’m really excited for a new series of Top Gear. I haven’t been able to find much about what’s happening in this series, but I would expect a couple races, more super car reviews, and some Top Gear challenges. The show’s producer, Andy Wilman talks about the new series on his latest blog post on Top Gear’s website, check it out.