Top Gear: Can Evans replace Clarkson ? Is it going to be a car crash?
Top Gear: Chris Evans replacing Clarkson? It’s going to be a car crash
original story from the Metro at

Gary Marshall for 17 Jun 2015 10:52 am

Top Gear: Chris Evans replacing Clarkson? It'll be a car crashChris replaces Clarkson
It’s official: Chris Evans is the new host of Top Gear, and Captain Slow and the Hamster won’t be joining him. As Mr May might put it: ‘Oh, cock.’

The problem isn’t Evans. He’s a great presenter, a properly funny man and a car nut to boot. An Evans-fronted car show will probably be quite good. But no matter what the titles say, it won’t be Top Gear – because Top Gear isn’t a car show.

Top Gear used to be a car show. It reported on exciting things such as traffic jams and tachographs in trucks, and it featured Noel Edmonds road testing cars and exciting driving questions from the chief instructor of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. It ran for about two hundred years and it was watched by about three people.

Top Gear started to get better in 1988 when Clarkson joined, but it didn’t become must-see TV until it was canned, brought back in a completely different format and based around a trio of presenters: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe. The chemistry wasn’t quite right, though, and Dawe was replaced by James May. What happened next involved stunts, controversy, huge ratings and worldwide success.

The reborn Top Gear programme wasn’t about cars. It was about three middle-aged men cocking about, and the weakest bits of the programme – the Stig’s laps, the star in a reasonably priced car – were the bits that most resembled traditional car shows.

The bits that really worked were the bits you don’t get on Fifth Gear: Clarkson’s big mouth, James May’s irritation, Hammond’s cars getting shunted.

And without them, it’ll be rubbish.

Chris Evans is the new Top Gear presenter - replacing Jeremy Clarkson, James Mays and Richard Hammond It just won’t be the same (Picture: Splash)
It won’t be unwatchable, I’m sure. But it won’t be what Top Gear was either. The new programme will be the Sugababes of car shows, a completely different line-up trading on past glories to an increasingly selective audience.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see it. Just look at Top Gear USA, which took the format to America in 2010.

It had three men having eccentric adventures. It had a Stig. It had stunts, and challenges, and a star in a reasonably priced car. And it currently has five out of ten stars on IMDB, because it just isn’t the programme it’s trying to copy.

If UK Top Gear was Sugababes, Top Gear USA was a Sugababes tribute act featuring three burly blokes in oil-stained overalls.

The TV programme Top Gear was most often compared to wasn’t a car programme, though. It was Last of the Summer Wine. Like Top Gear, LOTSW was hugely popular. Like Top Gear, LOTSW was essentially about three men cocking about. And like Top Gear, LOTSW was at its best with a particular line-up, in its case Peter Sallis, Brian Wilde and Bill Owen.

Owen died, and the programme continued for another decade – but it wasn’t the same. The magic was missing.

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