Top Gear

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.

Jay Leno Drives The McLaren P1

We’re all aware of just how impressive McLaren’s new P1 really is. However, we have yet to see it in the hands of a “civilian”. Jay Leno visited the MTC to see how the P1 is built and then headed over to the Top Gear Test Track at Dusfold for a test drive, in what I assume is the car he’s just bought.

The most interesting part of video is seeing just how different the P1 performs in comfort and race modes. Now it’s time for a trip Maranello for a bit of a compare and contrast with LaFerrari.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday!

Video courtesy of Jay Leno’s Garage.

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.

Clarkson: Powered Up

Can you believe it’s already October? The Holidays are fast approaching and that means one thing, a new Clarkson DVD.

Last year, Jezza took us to Imola for the Italian Job. It was certainly one of his better solo outings. This time he’s at the Paul Ricard Test Track in France for Powered Up. With a host of new super car tests and the usual speed challenges, it should be a welcome prelude to the upcoming series of Top Gear.

Top Gear Up For An NTA

The National Television Awards are Britain’s version of our People’s Choice Awards. That mean’s the fans have total control over voting for the winners. If you check out Andy Wilman’s Transmission blog, then you’ll know that Top Gear is one of the nominees for best factual program.

If you’re interested in voting, you can do so here. Interestingly, James May’s Toy Stories and Richard Hammond’s Invisible World’s are also nominated in the same category. Also, Ben Collins will supposedly be joining the cast of Fifth Gear for their upcoming series. I’m sure that’s not gone over well with the Top Gear camp.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Well it just wouldn’t be Christmas with out one of Clarkson’s annual DVD’s.

Clarkson’s latest solo act, affectionately titled The Italian Job, is set to go on sale November 15. I look forward to his DVD’s every year. Although they’re basically a rehashing of the same reviews we’ve already seen on Top Gear, it’s always entertaining to get Jezza’s take on some of the cars he wasn’t able to review on the BBC. Also with Top Gear not scheduled to return until early 2011, The Italian Job will be a welcome end-of-year supplement. As the title eludes, the feature will showcase a host of Italian cars including Clarkson’s first drive in the Pagani Zonda R!

You can preorder it now from Amazon.

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.