Monday 18 December 2017

Opinion: Clarkson is gone and Top Gear leaves a hole in my motoring life

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May of 'Top Gear'.
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May of 'Top Gear'.
Bob Flavin

Bob Flavin

I am a huge fan of Top Gear, I have been since I was a young lad and the show was populated with stuffed shirts talking about motor cars. It was a bit like Nationwide with cars. I loved it and got to see cars that I wouldn't normally see outside stuffy magazines.

Then a fuzzy haired lad called Jeremy Clarkson came on the screen and while he had the same BBC accent he was talking a very different language. He was talking to my inner car nut.

I didn’t even have a drivers licence but I was already into cars and Clarkson fed that need for speed weekly on the old Top Gear, then it ended. It just ran out of steam, it was no longer relevant and, apart from Clarkson, it wasn’t very good.

When the new run of Top Gear started it was a bit ropy, Clarkson took a van to France and bought a bottle of wine. Jason Dawe did second hand cars and Hammond looked like the cat from Shrek. May wasn’t on the show until season two and even he reviewed his own classic Roller, it was a mess.

Out of that mess the trio found their way into being an entertainment show that’s centred on cars. The format was simple, so simple that many other shows owe their very existence to Top Gear.

I freely admit that Top Gear lost its way a few times, there were some seasons where it was just plain childish but still I watched every episode. The warning signs of problems have been there for years, Clarkson causing a stir in the press once again, Argentina and claims of racism but yet the BBC did nothing to alter the course of the show.

They had the chance many times to bring on other presenters to challenge the trio, other people who could review cars and let the three main presenters get on with acting a bit mad. All chances were missed and now the ship is sinking and no one wants to go down with the sinking ship, not even Chris Evans.

So what’s left?

The only way forward with what Lord Hall called a ‘refresh’ is to change the presenters entirely, maybe even change the format a bit. This will come with its own set of problems because everything has been done, they have been to the four corners of the Earth to make the show already.

Top Gear was the only show I really looked forward to watching, putting it in the planner and even re-watching old episodes. I know some of you out there don’t like the show but you must tip your hat to what they achieved over the years. The one show that the whole family could sit down and watch together, aside from Ant and Dec there isn’t many shows like that on the telly.

Just what will happen in the BBC to Top Gear will be left up to the Bosses; if the disagreement can’t be solved then we will have to have a new show with new people. It just won’t be the same without Clarkson, Hammond and May.

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