The final episode of Top Gear Series 24 going to air last Sunday, and while it was a massive improvement on Series 23, now is the perfect time to reflect on how the new series stacked up against previous Top Gear series, and whether it was able to take the fight to The Grand Tour.
The viewing figures
As is usually the way with viewing figures television series, the first episode will always rate the highest, before gradually reducing as the series progresses – as some viewers tune out for various reasons. If the show isn’t received well, the viewer figures will plummet much quicker – such as the 4.4 million to 2.8 million drop we saw in the first and second episode of Top Gear Series 23 with Chris Evans. Ouch.
So how did Top Gear Series 23 perform? Well, a bit like this
|Top Gear Series 24: Overnight Ratings|
|Episode 1 (5 March)||2.8 million|
|Episode 2 (12 March)||2.7 million|
|Episode 3 (19 March)||2.4 million|
|Episode 4 (26 March)||2.3 million|
|Episode 5 (2 April)||2.6 million|
|Episode 6 (16 April – Easter Sunday)||1.6 million|
|Episode 7 (23 April)||1.9 million|
As you can see, Series 24 opened with an average of 2.8 million viewers, before gradually falling to to 2.4 million by Episode 4, spiking to 2.6 for Episode 5. A possible explanation for the further reduction seen in Episodes 6 & 7 is that they aired after Top Gear went on break for a week, meaning some viewers may have thought the show had finished early or they simply lost interest.
So how does that compare to The Grand Tour? Well unfortunately for us, Amazon haven’t released the full list of viewer statistics for the show, but there is one statistic we have heard – by December 2016 approximately 2.3 million people had streamed the first episode of the show. It is important to note that this figure was determined by research company GfK – from a survey of viewers who fill in a diary of what they watch every day – so it is far from being an official figure.
Depending on how you interpret the viewing figures for The Grand Tour‘s first episode, it either attracted less viewers than Top Gear Series 24’s opening episode, or at least was pretty much on-par with it. The figures also would have reduced further as each episode was released.
Unless Amazon changes their policy and decides to release final viewer figures for The Grand Tour, we can’t really give either show the win here.
The episode ratings
Here on MotoringBox, every single episode of Top Gear and The Grand Tour carries with it a ‘Star Rating’ from 1 to 10, which are determined by hundreds of thousands of votes placed by readers just like you. Aside from being an easy way to find quality episodes worth watching, they give us a handy point of reference to see how the shows stack up against each other.
Top Gear Series 24’s highest rated episode is currently Episode 7, with a rating of 9.4 out of 10. On the other end of the scale, Episode 3 faired the worst, with a rating of just 6.9 out of 10 – one of the worst on record.
If you take an average of the ratings for every episode in the series, Top Gear achieved an overall score of 7.88 out of 10, vs The Grand Tour on 8.63 out of 10. So as far as our readers are concerned, The Grand Tour has won this one – just!
We love Clarkson, Hammond and May as much as all of you do, but we are the first to admit that while The Grand Tour did have moments of greatness, the show as a whole wasn’t exactly their finest hour. Let us put it like this – here at MotoringBox we’ve watched all of the older Top Gear episodes many, many times over because of how much we enjoyed them.
But The Grand Tour? Once was enough for us, thanks.
Many of the boy’s “adventures” felt unrealistic, as if you were watching a B-grade action movie which desperately wants you to believe everything is real. We also felt the hosts (especially Hammond and May) were putting on an act, as we’ve never seen Hammond that argumentative or May being as much of a bumbling idiot as what we saw on The Grand Tour.
On the other side, while we enjoyed Series 24 of Top Gear slightly more than The Grand Tour, it too was far from perfect. While the chemistry between LeBlanc, Harris and Reid shows some promise, LeBlanc is still a bit too wooden in the studio, Reid’s jokes sometimes fall flat and Harris is always looking for an argument. But thankfully the stunning cinematography remained, combined with a bunch of interesting road trips, challenges and car reviews throughout the series.
And the verdict?
Well, do we really need to choose?
Whether you prefer the newly revamped Top Gear or the behermoth that is The Grand Tour, there’s one thing you need to remember – and that is competition is a good thing. It is Mercedes-Benz vs BMW, Ford vs Chevrolet, Coke vs Pepsi, Apple vs Samsung, PS4 vs…. well, you get the idea.
When it comes to anything at all, a bit of friendly competition means people strive to try harder than what they otherwise might have done. Competition keeps people and companies on their toes and performing at their best of their abilities, and you can be certain that the respective production teams at Top Gear and The Grand Tour are doing absolutely everything they can to compete with and out-do each other in every regard.
If Top Gear were to ever be cancelled in the near future, the team over at The Grand Tour suddenly wouldn’t have to try as hard to succeed in the future. While this might not be apparent or affect the show immediately, over time stagnation could set in and everybody loses.
So let us all enjoy the fact that we have access to two highly polished and refined car shows to entertain ourselves with – and they’ve even been thoughtfully staggered to air at alternate times of the year. This means there will be less down-time between shows, more quality car content for you and also more variety to enjoy.
How good is that?