06.11.18

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT TOP GEAR, PADDY AND FREDDIE…

I’ve given this the ‘over the weekend’ test and I’ve decided on balance it’s still got to be said. Don’t ever use a focus group to help decide on the presenting team for a hit TV show.

I can see how the production team ended up with Paddy McGuiness and Andrew Flintoff in the frame, indeed taking to Twitter confirmed my suspicions. The choice of these two appeared to go down well with a significant swathe of Top Gear’s key demographic. One’s a northern comedian with a catchy line in catchphrases and the other is an Ashes Winner don’t you know.

I get that these two offer the potential to up the light entertainment quotient and increase the pull factor for a show that has never recovered from the loss of Clarkson et al. However, it felt like there was a bit of chemistry developing, (these things do take time) between Chris Harris, Matt LeBlanc and Rory Reid. I’d even started to watch it again because at least they felt like guys that enjoyed properly mucking about with cars because they knew what they were talking about and more importantly, didn’t feel the need to shout all the time, like a bad Clarkson tribute act, (step forward Chris Evans and Sabine Schmitt for that matter).

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I’d have happily watched Monkey and Rory present it on their own; the cars (and the cameramen) were always the stars for me and I certainly don’t need a “name” to enrich my viewing experience, particularly when the “name” knows about as much about cars as I do about Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, and while I’m on one, I still don’t understand why Rory has been sent back to BBC3 for the “extra” show with shouty Sabine – not my idea of career progression…

I’m all in favour of picking the best person for the job irrespective of race, gender and the rest of it but look at the demographic of the new presenting team; it’s now resolutely male and Lancastrian or Bristolian, (and I don’t think that particular distinction has qualified as diversity at the BBC since 1951). Top Gear has long been a bit of a cash cow for the BBC as the highest grossing internationally syndicated factual show, so wouldn’t it have made sense now as we prepare to splice the main brace and set sail for waters new, leaving the EU’s sheltered harbours behind to have maybe limited it to just one Lancastrian in the line-up?

So where should they have turned? Here’s an idea how about racing driver Karun Chandhok – he did a cracking job with Guy Martin in the recent Williams F1 documentary. He can drive, he can talk knowledgably about cars and he happens to be from a market with one billion consumers and it would go some way towards making amends for Clarkson’s behaviour in the 2011 Indian Top Gear Special…

ARTICLE BY DAN PITT


Associate Director and all round Petrolhead

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