Saturday 16 December 2017

12 things you need to know about Chris Evans' new Top Gear kicking off tonight

Rory Reid, left, with the line-up of Top Gear presenters
Rory Reid, left, with the line-up of Top Gear presenters
Friends actor Matt LeBlanc with Chris Evans and The Stig (BBC/PA)

Helena Horton

What times is Top Gear on? Which cars will feature? Who's presenting? What's different? Everything you need to know...

What time does the new series of Top Gear start and which channel is it on?

Tonight at 8pm we finally get our first glimpse of the new-look Top Gear series on BBC 2.

The show's official website reports that filming has taken place in nine countries over eight months, with the six new presenters covering more than 7,500 miles.

There will also be a new behind-the-scenes show straight after the main episode, called Extra Gear. It will be available to view on the BBC Three website as well as on the BBC's iPlayer.

How many episodes will there be?

The show has been cut from its traditional eight episodes to a six episode run.

Who are the new Top Gear presenters?

What can we expect the show to look like?

If the increasing number of trailers are anything to go by, much the same as with the old Top Gear. So, silly stunts, fast cars and amazing production values.

Which cars will feature in the show?

In addition to what's in the trailer, the team has already been spied filming footage of the new Ford Mustang…


…as well as a classic example on the same shoot.


And as has now been confirmed, Chris Evans was spied apparently being car-sick after a high-speed ride in an Audi R8.


Evans has also mentioned driving the McLaren 675LT in a recent interview.


Evans has also been spied filming a classic car feature with a Triumph Stag and an Aston Martin DB5.


And as filming kicked off outside BBC headquarters, both Evans and LeBlanc were seen introducing a pair of roofless Reliant Robin thre-wheelers.

Handout photo issued by Sarah Bell of Chris Evans (left ) and Matt LeBlanc in Reliant Robins outside BBC Broadcasting House in London for filming the first episode of Top Gear.

Perhaps slightly more exciting for LeBlanc was driving the new Ariel Nomad.

Last but not least, we've had a glimpse of the Aston Martin Vulcan track car in action, with Chris Harris behind the wheel.


What's this Extra Gear show I've been hearing about?

That's a new online-only spin-off from Top Gear, which will be available to view on the BBC Three website as well as on the BBC's iPlayer streaming service immediately after each episode of the main show.

Extra Gear will be hosted by Top Gear presenter Rory Reid, and offer behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive films and interviews not featured in the main show. Reid promised fans "a chance to really get a peek behind the curtain" and said that Extra Gear would "[show] them how the show is made and what goes on behind the scenes".

Is there any rivalry between the new show and the old presenters?

You bet. Although relations between Evans and Clarkson started out amicably, there has been a series of jibes exchanged between the two since Evans took over. First off, Clarkson said that the BBC had asked him to return just days before appointing Evans, to which Evans responded that Clarkson had "said no to the voices inside or outside his head".

Clarkson later said that he was glad he had left Top Gear before it got "tired and boring". Then new Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz weighed in, revealing how Clarkson had refused to ride in a car with her because she scared him so much.

Which guests will be on the new series of Top Gear?

There’s no news on potential guests, but the chances are hosts Evans, Eddie Jordan and Matt LeBlanc will draw on their significant arsenal of celebrity contacts to appear on the new series. We’ve also yet to find out whether the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car slot will return after the previous car, and old-shape Vauxhall Astra, was auctioned for charity last year.

Will the Top Gear test track still be a part of the new series?

It’s expected to be. Evans has alluded to testing cars on the track at Dunsfold in Surrey, though it’s thought that the layout has been re-designed to make the track even bigger.

Is the new Top Gear series in crisis?

Rumours of production problems have emerged during the build-up to the first series of the new show, with Lisa Clark, the executive producer brought in by Chris Evans, quitting after just five months.

Evans was said to have been at loggerheads with BBC executives over Clark’s departure, although the BBC denied the reports, saying that there were “no issues” between Evans and the senior management team.

Other stories that have emerged from the set include accusations of bullying and even flashing against Evans, as well as rumours of a rift between him and co-host Matt LeBlanc over the Cenotaph scandal.

Matt LeBlanc (left) and Ken Block filming in Westminster

However, former Top Gear presenter James May has voiced his opinion that Evans might be feeding newspaper speculation that the show is going badly intentionally, in order to lower viewers’ expectations.

“That’s my theory,” he said on ITV’s This Morning. “To be brutally honest, that's what I'd do; I would make out it was all going terribly.

"The picture of Chris supposedly being sick while he was driving a car - was he being sick? I look a lot more contorted when I'm sick."

What does Evans have planned for the Top Gear brand?

In his latest book, Call The Midwife, Evans sets out his idea of a Top Gear theme park to which people from all four corners of the globe would flock.

He has also said he wants to make the show “bigger than it’s ever been” and attract an audience from around the world, with mini-films shot in a variety of exotic locations.

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