Following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, the BBC relaunched Top Gear with a brand new presenting team and new segments. The result was a show that was more focused on motoring than it was before, but also a show that didn’t gel and one that failed to ignite viewer’s passion. In fact, ratings proved pretty dismal for season 23, with just 1.9 million tuning in for the finale in the U.K., the lowest ratings for Top Gear since its relaunch in 2002.
The biggest contributory factor to its failure was the new presenting lineup, fronted by British TV and radio personality, Chris Evans. Though he had been a popular guest on Top Gear in the past, his abrasive style wasn’t popular with viewers, and he quit at the end of the season. In comparison, his co-host, Matt Le Blanc, proved himself to be affable, warm, and funny, and his presenting style was welcomed by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. Going forward, LeBlanc will serve as the main host for at least two more seasons, with co-hosts Chris Harris and Rory Reid also staying on board, and expected to have larger roles in the show.
Courtesy of BBC, ahead of the season premiere, a new teaser for Top Gear has arrived online and can be viewed, above.
As is evidenced in the trailer, Top Gear is still going down the route of dry humor and off-the-wall challenges, but with a more cohesive unit of presenters. This should relay well to the audience, rather than coming off as stilted and unnatural.
One of the many criticisms leveled at the show last season, was that it woefully underused Reid and Harris, who are far more experienced and knowledgeable about cars, while focusing on Evans. This time around, that shouldn’t be a problem. Though LeBlanc is undoubtedly the star here, the fact that both men have appeared in the trailer hints at much more involvement, but what of Sabine Schmitz and Eddie Jordan?
According to the BBC, they will serve as contributors rather than full-time presenters, which is certainly a shame when it comes to Schmitz. The only female on the team, not only did she bring an excellent knowledge of rally driving to the show, she was also very relaxed on screen and enjoyable to watch, so less of her input is not a good thing. In the case of Jordan, though, few worked out the purpose he served on the show. Despite his in-depth knowledge of racing driving and in particular, Formula One, he seemed to provide little more to Top Gear than comedy value, and not great comedy at that. Hopefully, he will be given a chance to prove his worth, and with another fresh start, Top Gear’s 24th season will return to its former glory.
Top Gear will return to the BBC and BBC America sometime this year.