Ever since the BBC announced it would be continuing with its world favorite show, Top Gear, despite the departure of presenting trio Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, speculation has been rife over who might take the reins. The first announcement was that Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 DJ, TV presenter and the one who is not Captain America, would take over as the show's main host. In other words, he is the man filling Clarkson's shoes.
Other names were also discussed as possibilities for joining Evans as co-hosts on the popular motoring show (which has been running since 1977), but few could have guessed the next name announced would be former Friends actor, Matt LeBlanc. While LeBlanc might have appeared to be totally left field, he is in fact a self-confessed petrol-head and car enthusiast, and still holds the Top Gear record for the fastest lap time set by a 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car'.
Now the BBC have added to the presenting lineup, announcing no less than four new presenters who will be joining Evans and LeBlanc when Top Gear returns this May. Racing driver Sabine Schmitz, YouTube star Chris Harris, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan and motoring journalist Rory Reid have all been added to the roster... leaving most Top Gear fans wondering- with the exception of Eddie Jordan- who on Earth these people are.
Sabine Schmitz becomes the first Top Gear female host for fifteen years (how modern!). She has appeared on Top Gear multiple times before and will be familiar to regular viewers. Schmitz also became the first female winner of the Nurburbring 24 hours in 1996. She is still racing now, and has her own team, so brings a professional driving perspective to the show that it's not had for some time. As she noted in her statement about the news:
“I grew up next to the Nürburgring and have been racing for most of my life, so the chance to combine both driving and filming was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Chris Harris has his own YouTube car-based show, simply entitled Chris Harris on Cars. The show has over 250,000 subscribers and more than 20 million views, so his move across to mainstream TV seems a sensible one. He will also bring with him an established fanbase, which will be helpful considering the show will need to build its viewership back up again after Clarkson, Hammond and May's departure. Of his appointment, Harris said:
“Top Gear is the thing that helped shape my life with cars, my perception of cars and my obsession with cars, and I’m raring to give it a go."
Eddie Jordan is, of course, best known for launching the careers of many Formula 1 racing drivers including Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello through his Jordan team. He sold Jordan in 2005 and has since been co-hosting the BBC's F1 coverage. Given his huge motor sport knowledge and presenting experience, Jordan seems quite the coup for the Top Gear presenting panel. Here's Jordan statement:
“I have such enormous respect for all my fellow presenters and I politely ask that they go easy on these old bones.”
Finally, Rory Reid landed his spot on the panel after a series of successful public auditions. He hasn't quite come out of nowhere though; Reid is a motoring journalist who has been writing about cars for nearly 20 years. He also helped launch CNET UK's Car Tech channel and has appeared on Sky 1's Gadget Geeks and the YouTube channel Fast, Furious and Funny. Here's Reid's official statement, too:
“To be the only person to make it through the open audition process makes me immensely proud. I’ve been a Top Gear fan for decades, but more than that, I live and breathe cars in a way that is perfectly compatible with the show."
The new presenting lineup brings about a big change for Top Gear and could possibly see the show taken in a different direction given the strong background these new presenters have in motor racing. In recent years, Clarkson et al have been focused on pushing regular cars to their limits, or modifying them to take on epic challenges. Could we see more high end sports models being tested instead, and a focus on speed over stamina?
What do you think of the new lineup? Will you be watching Top Gear when it returns, or will you be waiting for Clarkson, Hammond and May to launch their new car show on Amazon Prime later in the year?
The new season of Top Gear will debut on the BBC in May of 2016.
Source: Top Gear TV