This was always going to divide opinion, but I actually liked this newly revamped Top Gear. But here’s the thing that people must remember: it’s the first episode. It’s the first episode of a new series which required significant changes in staff both in front of and behind the camera. And they’ve had about the same preparation time as the old series.
So I think Chris Evans and chums have done a spectacularly great job given the circumstances. Given that I can see what’s going on at the Top Gear test track and studio as I worked next door to them, the amount of effort being put into the show is no less than 100% – in fact, I’d say there’s more staff (security and crew) and more kit than previous series. They even had the production office (a cabin) spruced up. As we’ve seen, there’s now a dirt track to liven up the segment formally called Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Try trawling Twitter, and you’ll come across all manner of opinions – all the way from knuckle dragging idiots that are calling the new presenters all names under the sun, through to “boring”, through to thinking the BBC could simply produce animatronic puppets of the original presenters and keep exactly the same show as before.
One thing that irritated me was Carole “Countdown” Vorderman’s comment:
— Carol Vorderman MBE (@carolvorders) May 29, 2016
which is silly.
Carol Vorderman has worked extensively on many TV series, including revamps, she should know better that you’re not going to get things completely right in the first episode of a new series – and a new series that has been given a bit of a revamp and was extremely popular beforehand. It took Clarkson and chums 10 years to get the format to what is was. The camaraderie between the presenters took a while to build as well. The point is, the expectation that the team were either going to be clones of the original team, or that there would be super witty un-PC “banter” right off the bat was presumptuous and wrong.
So I tweeted her to say as such (I was not rude or disrespectful – I like the lady). I was immediately blocked, and Twitter informed that my account was suspended temporarily as they suspected something bad had happened. So I reset my password and got back in.
Miss Vorderman is completely entitled to her opinion, and she’s entitled to block or report whomever she pleases. But it suggests to me that she’s not receptive to anybody thinking that maybe – just maybe – one should give your fellow industry colleagues a bit more of chance and not write the whole thing off instantly. She didn’t like it – fine. We get that. But to be so dismissive.. sigh.
Also, unless she’s been privileged to watch unfinished episodes of Amazon’s The Grand Tour, she can’t make assumptions about that until it airs. Just because it features Clarkson, Hammond and May doesn’t mean it’ll immediately be brilliant.
In any event, I don’t think we can expect Carol Vorderman to turn up on the new Top Gear show attempting the improved test track…
In the mean time, let’s give peace a chance. Let’s wait and see what the new Top Gear team has up their sleeves in future episodes. I’m sure they’re monitoring social media, the newspapers, and so on, and maybe (because the show is recorded two weeks before it airs – obviously except for the big VT pieces), adjustments can be made. But don’t write the show off completely yet, please. It’d be an insult to the very hard work that’s gone into this thing.