Feedback from Top Gear Series 23, Episode 1

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Despite the haters saying they weren’t going to watch it, an average audience of 4.3 million people still tuned in to watch the first episode of Top Gear Series 23. Although it is the lowest start to a new series of Top Gear in at least a decade, it isn’t that bad of a result considering the entire presenter line-up has been swapped out.

They always had big boots to fill, and the relaunched series with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc were well and truly up against it on social media, where angry fans were unimpressed by the chemistry between Evans and LeBlanc, which some said was non-existent, as well as Evans’ shouting in an apparent attempt to replicate predecessor Jeremy Clarkson.

“Anyone who just watched the new Top Gear and thought it was good needs a brain transplant. Absolutely diabolical,” tweeted one fan. “James May has a show where he puts old lawn mowers together, piece by piece. In a shed. It’s better than this.”

Friends actor Matt LeBlanc was a wildcard heading into the series but it appears the American export shone in the pressurised environment. The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston praised LeBlanc for being ‘cheeky, quite funny and relaxed’ but criticised Evans’ performance as being forced. “Chris Evans is trying to be Jeremy Clarkson, and that’s probably not a good idea. There’s also an uncharacteristic nervousness about him; possibly because of that anticipation, the build-up, the weight on his shoulders, possibly because this kind of scripted stunt isn’t suited to him – he’s a chatterbox, not an actor.”

So far the new Top Gear appears to be a rehash of old stunts with fresh faces, with the new hosts driving around London in three-wheeler Reliant Robins. The UK Telegraph also accused producers of overplaying the United Kingdom versus the United States angle between LeBlanc and Evans, forcing them to drive around in cars brandished in their nations’ respective flags. “Forcing Matt LeBlanc to experience British Summertime – standing on a freezing, rainy beach in a cagoule – while he and Evans test a British car against an American car was yet another example of the cliche they’re ramming down our throats,” wrote Helena Horton. “It’s fun for one episode – but will this be the theme of the whole series? It could get tired.”

At this stage, we should remind unimpressed fans that the original Top Gear took a few years until it gelled after launching all the way back in 2002, so there is still some hope on the horizon. In the first episode, we believe Chris Evans was shouting more so because he was performing with the studio audience in mind, rather than focusing on the viewers through the camera. If you think back to Top Gear episodes of old, Jeremy Clarkson would often not reference the audience at all, except on rare occasions where he’d liken a car to a pair of large breasts on one of the ladies in the front row, or welcome Jesus into the studio. The BBC will either continue to push this new style and we’ll all get used to it, or they’ll have Evans tone it down a bit and relax just a little bit more. Less running around perhaps.

As for the rest of it? We loved Matt LeBlanc for his humour and relaxed presenting style. There were some genuinely funny moments during the first half of the London to Blackpool challenge, and we look forward to seeing more of what he has to offer later in the series. The Dodge Viper ACR vs Chevrolet Corvette Z06 wasn’t the worst thing we’ve ever seen on Top Gear, and the new Star in a Rallycross Car segment might need further refinement, but as a whole we thought the new team did a fairly decent job, all things considered.

For more information, check out our Series 23 Episode 1 guide, or for my thoughts on the new series check out Why I hope Top Gear will not only survive, but thrive.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. I watched it. It was better than I expected, it was better than foregin versions of TG, it was of course much worse than old TG.
    I will give it few more episodes before final verdict, because even almost everything is less entertaining, cars shots and montage is still as good as it was.

  2. Evans was jumping and shouting all around the Top Gear arena. His accent sucks. James, Jeremy and Richard are having neutral accents.

    Viper vs Corvette was pointless exercise. They could have done that better. They simply circled the airbase and that was it.

    Matt is good. With few more shows he would tune in and would be great. Evans is just way too off. He is not able to properly review cars. Few Indians sitting on car and comparing the downforce with the Viper is just idiotic. Jeremy would never do that.

  3. I agree AMVJ, I will give it three shows, Matt was better than I expected (I guess I was expecting that Moron Joey from friends instead we got the swearing Bully American persona) I think he will grow on people, Chris Evans well known in the UK, no one knows him anywhere else harder for him…………Chris Evans shouting in the studio and review of the Viper was unfortunate to say the least, I do not remember any of the previous three yelling like that in the studio…………AND HOW DID Chris Evans fool Billie Piper into marrying him…….FFS……. it boggles my mind, he’s about as funny as a fart in an elevator…………………………

    The test track is and will be useless when it rains……….(and it never ever rains there)…………test track developed by lotus and these morons make half of it a rally cross track LOL, I can see McLaren testing there in the future.

    Lastly what happened to the last 3 OLD GOOD TOP GEAR shows that were not aired when Clarkson was sacked will they be shown as part of this season or have they been shown already……….?

  4. I’m 1:23 mins in and I’m already regretting it. The ‘tonight’ part of the title sequence was so forced and cringeworthy and Matt’s introduction felt more like a game show intro than anything else. Already you can see that this show is nothing but a hollow, soulless shell of what it used to be. I’ll report back after I’ve soldiered through it.

    • 25 mins in and I can take no more. Everything sounds so forced, Evans keeps trying to be Jazza and is failing miserably.

      On the up side though, Matt is ok and it’s good to see that the remaining camera crew haven’t lost their edge.

  5. I watched and I don’t understand the haters. As several people have pointed out already it takes time to bringa new crew and new hosts togheter. The comparsion with old Top Gears early series is excellent to prove this point. I do miss that they cut out the news from the show and I think the star in a rally car is just boring. I will continue to watch this series as well as Grand Tour and hope both will do great.

  6. I have very mixed feeling about it. I went into it last night immediately comparing it to the Clarkson TG, which was probably unfair. That aside, I cannot stand Chris Evan’s voice. He came across loud, overbearing and shreaking. I was surprised how well I liked Matt Leblanc as a host. He saved the show, in my opinion.
    However, I was REALLY surprised how much better the last 30 minutes were compared to the main show. I found the b-squad talent (sorry, don’t remember their names) so much more engaging and entertaining than the Chris/Matt combo.
    I sincerely hope they succeed. Time will tell,…

    • At least people know of him around the world he has a head for TV (evans doesn’t), he can drive a car and review them as well and he will be just Tiff and not pretend to be someone else…………………………………………..

      • Tiff used to be a TG presented and since FG got cancelled he is free at the moment. I’d have hime over Evans any day.

    • I like Tiff, but did you really think he was that good on Fifth Gear? I say give this Evans guy a shot, he wasn’t bad

      • Tiff’s ok, at least he’s got the experience, Evans was like a little kid on cocaine jumping around and shouting. You could see how awkward the audience was.

  7. What they need is to sack that idiot Evans then bring Tiff and take Rory or Harris from Extra Gear. Matt, Tiff and Harris/Rory would be perfect trio for the new show.

  8. Now talk of awkward silences , canned laughter and a shouty ginger man , it’s not looking good , Andy wil man got out at the right time

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