The National, May 2016
With Jezza, The Hamster and Captain Slow signed up to Amazon Prime for a rival motoring programme, we look at five ways Top Gear will evolve:
1 The presenters are fresh and new
There was some confusion when Top Gear announced a seven-strong line-up, but the general idea is that Evans and LeBlanc will be “like breakfast show anchors”. The other five – Formula One’s Eddie Jordan, German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, online motoring journalist Chris Harris and TV presenter Rory Reid will, says LeBlanc, flit in and out of the series “as needed to facilitate the story we’re telling”.
2 Cars will be at the centre of the story
Evans says he’s watched nearly every Top Gear episode since he got the gig, thought about the balance between the humour and the cars, and concluded that “the car will be more of a star than it has been for the past few years, there’s no doubt about that”.
3 It will have even more star power
Top Gear was never short of show business guests – Matt LeBlanc himself held the title of fastest star in a reasonably priced car back in 2012. But he also has proper Hollywood cache. “Cate Blanchett came up to me on a flight back to Los Angeles,” he says. “‘Is it true you’re the new host?’ she asked me. ‘And can I be on the show?’”
4 It will be more international
The first series is just six episodes long, but the team has been spotted in South Africa, Venice, Nevada, Kazakhstan, Norway, Cuba, Morocco – and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit. “The hard bit of the show is getting the vaccinations,” jokes LeBlanc. “I thought I was going to be doing a little driving, but I’m just getting jabbed with needles!”
5 It’ll be more innovative … in the next series
BBC bosses are obviously keen that Top Gear doesn’t stray too far from its winning template. Evans, though, as the creative lead, is clearly itching to move the show in new directions. “Let’s get the first series under our belts and make sure we can do it, then perhaps we’ll experiment,” he says.