Top Gear reveals full line-up for new series
Published 11/02/2016 | 08:46
The full line-up for Top Gear has been announced, with a total of seven presenters heading up the BBC's flagship motoring show.
Motorsport guru and Formula 1 commentator Eddie Jordan, German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, motoring journalist Chris Harris and car reviewer Rory Reid will join Chris Evans.
Friends actor Matt LeBlanc was announced last week, and trusty sidekick The Stig will also return.
Evans said: "We really do have a bit of everything for everyone.
"A fellow lifelong petrolhead from the other side of the pond in Matt; a fearless speed-demon in the irrepressible and effervescent Sabine; the encyclopedic, funny and wonderfully colourful character that is EJ; Chris, one of the world's top no-nonsense car reviewers; and Rory, who simply blew me away in his audition and fully deserves his place on the team."
Sabine Schmitz is the only woman in the line-up, and the show's first female presenter in 15 years.
She follows in the footsteps of Kate Humble, Angela Rippon and Vicki Butler-Henderson, who were presenters for the original Top Gear before its 2002 revival.
After accepting the Top Gear job in June, Evans told BBC Radio 5 Live that the presenting team would "definitely" include a woman.
Schmitz will be known to viewers after appearing in series five and 11 of the show.
She said: "I grew up next to the Nurburgring, 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.
"I've appeared on Top Gear a few times in the past, so I know we're going to have a lot of fun."
The German racing driver has already completed some filming with Evans.
Reid was recruited to Top Gear from the show's auditions last year, when members of the public were invited to apply.
With a background in journalism and appearances on CNET's Car Tech channel and Sky 1's Gadget Geeks series, he said he was proud to make it through the public auditions.
Reid commented: "When I submitted my 30-second audition tape, I knew the odds were very firmly against me, as the auditions were open to absolutely everybody.
"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.
"I'm looking forward to bringing my brand of knowledge, energy and humour to what promises to be a very exciting new series."
Dublin-born Jordan will bring his Formula 1 experience to the car show.
He founded the Jordan Grand Prix, a Formula 1 constructor that competed from 1991 to 2005 and launched the careers of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.
Jordan said: "I'm giddy with excitement to be joining Chris and the team. I have such enormous respect for all my fellow presenters and I politely ask that they go easy on these old bones.
"Cars are in my DNA and although I've been fortunate enough to accomplish most things I ever aspired to in motorsport, presenting Top Gear is quite simply the icing on the cake."
Automotive journalist and racing driver Harris has worked for car magazines including Evo, Autocar, and Jalopnik.
He also presents TV and YouTube series, and has his own car reviewing channel, Chris Harris On Cars.
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.
"I'm also quite gobby and happy to get into trouble, so I'm hoping I can underpin the programme with journalistic credibility but still cause some mischief.
"And if it all goes wrong, well, I can say I was once on Top Gear, and just head back to being that annoying small bloke off YouTube."
The Stig is reported to have sent the Morse code message: "-.-. .... . .-- .. . --..-- / .-- . .----. .-. . / .... --- -- . .-.-.-"
This translates as the iconic Star Wars line: "Chewie, we're home."
The seven-strong presenting team replaces the old trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
Clarkson was fired from the show in March following a "fracas" with a producer, with Hammond and May quitting in solidarity.
Top Gear will return in May on BBC Two.
According to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, o f the 38.2 million full driving licences valid in the UK in 2015, about 20.7 million (54%) belonged to men and 17.4 million (46%) to women.
With Schmitz joining the line-up, women will make up 14.3% of the Top Gear presenting team.
Newcomer Reid took a casual approach to the announcement.
He shared with his followers on Twitter: "Took the bins out. Fed my kid breakfast. Became a Top Gear presenter. Standard Thursday."
Alongside the tweet announcing the line-up, he wrote: " Let's go!"
Evans tweeted: "Morning from the new Top Gear team. All present and correct and smelling of eau de petrol."