Top Gear presenter Rory Reid has said joining the BBC motoring show was “like being a soldier parachuted into a war”. Newcomer Reid said he expected a “pretty big change” in the format of the next series after presenter Chris Evans resigned, but said he had not yet signed a new contract. He said he was surprised by the level of hostility from critics, and said the challenge of taking over from Jeremy Clarkson was like the Wu-Tang Clan taking over from One Direction.
Reid, who landed a place on the show after impressing producers with his audition tape, said: “Well it’s been a very intense experience, way more involved than I ever thought any show could be. The level of scrutiny that the show is under has just been absolutely immense. The way I thought about it was like being a soldier parachuted into a war, and you have some people that are on your side, and some people that are not on your side, and then you have the rest of them who are just watching to see what happens anyway,” he told RedBull.com.
Reid said he was taken aback by the level of criticism directed at the show and at Evans, who was given the job of reinventing the show after Clarkson was axed and he was followed out of the door by his co-presenters, Richard Hammond and James May. “I was definitely surprised. I thought that we’d come in, do the job and then be judged according to the job that we did,” he said “It’s not just a TV show – it’s an institution. It’s like if the Wu-Tang Clan took over from One Direction. The fans of One Direction would be like, ‘What the hell are we watching, who are these people?’
“But even so, I was still very, very surprised at the level of hostility. There were special Twitter accounts that people set up to tweet negative shit about Top Gear. “Part of you wants to say, ‘It’s just a TV show’, but then the other side of you has to think that these fans were really devoted to that show [under Jeremy Clarkson] and that it’s going to take a long time to get used to.”
Reid added: “I haven’t signed a contract yet, and I don’t know if anyone else has, but the expectation is that we will continue without Chris … Let’s assume that everyone except Chris Evans remains on the show; then I think that the format has to change.
“The way the previous show worked was Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc bouncing off each other in the studio, and then they’d get one of the others – myself, Chris Harris, Sabine [Schmitz] or Eddie [Jordan] – to take part in something specific.
“Without Chris Evans, you’d only have Matt LeBlanc to do that, and I don’t know if that’s a route the BBC would go down, to have him on his own. I think they’d incorporate the rest of us to make it like an ensemble piece. We’ll see what happens, but I expect it to be a pretty big change, and that things will be pretty different.”
Reid also talked about the moment Evans cried after driving the McLaren F1.
“I remember talking to Chris and watching the tears build up in his eyes and I’m thinking, ‘Where is this going? How am I going to handle this? Do we cut, do we roll with it, do I keep pressing? Am I going to get fired because I made him cry?’” said Reid.
“But I went with it and people really appreciated that moment because it showed another side to Chris. The cars move him in a certain way, and it’s not all scripted. There’s a passion deep inside him – not just him, but all of us – for the job that we do and the cars that we drive.”