Top Gear has a real chance to beat The Grand Tour

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It hasn’t been an easy journey for BBC’s Top Gear, following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May back in April 2015. But last night’s series opener showed some promising signs of life, and the show looks to be finally heading in the right direction.

Following on from Series 23, expectations among viewers were always going to be low – and so far the figures reflect this. Just 2.8 million people tuned in for the start of Series 24 on Sunday, which is considerably less than the 4.4 million who watched Chris Evans scream his way into the studio for Series 23. But what these figures don’t tell you is how good the episode actually was.

In our opinion, it was very good. So much so, that we think The Grand Tour should be glancing nervously into its rear-view mirror right about now.

From the off, it was clear that the revised presenter lineup of Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid do indeed have some chemistry between them – which is a promising thing to see after just one episode. Sure, some of the studio segments were awkward, with some of the banter feeling a little forced and a few jokes falling flat – but it was a different story out on the road in their three high-mileage cars.

Going in with an open mind, I honestly have to say I laughed more watching Top Gear Series 24 Episode 1 than any episode of The Grand Tour. Surprising to hear I know, but in my case it is the honest truth. There were some really funny moments and one-liners scattered throughout the episode, and most importantly, none of it felt scripted, fake, or over-the-top. Many of you will disagree of course, but hey – that’s just me.

While The Grand Tour has become something more like ‘Old Men Falling Over In Exotic Locations’, Series 24 of Top Gear at its core appears to have gone back to being a car show – and it is all the better for it. It feels like what Top Gear was 5 or 10 years ago before everything got too silly. It felt good, man.

The Ferrari FXX K film was something of a revelation for me. For a start, it was filmed absolutely fxxking beautifully – which surprisingly is something you can’t say for some of The Grand Tour’s car tests. Harris also has a way of explaining things so that even non-car people can understand why he liked the car, and enjoy an otherwise nerdy segment.

The trip to Kazakhstan though, was even more enjoyable. Top Gear was always at its best when the boys were on an epic roadtrip or a cheap car challange, and the opening episode for Series 24 was no exception. It was through this segment that we got our first proper taste of how LeBlanc, Harris and Reid interact with each other, and surprisingly enough it was all much better than I expected.

It was nice to see that all three presenters genuinely seem to like each other’s company, which is a far cry from the contempt which Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May seem to have for each other – scripted or not. It felt like you were watching three people who cared about their work and enjoyed what they were doing, rather than three tired old men who were arguing as per the script and simply going through the motions.

After just a single episode, Top Gear appears to have The Grand Tour by the balls well and truly – but it remains to be seen whether they can continue to bring the fight for the remainder of the series.

I for one, can’t wait to find out.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. They seem like nice enough guys; I wish them well. As for The Grand Tour being nervous, why should they be? They’re three (four, if you want to count Andy Wilman) men who turned a “poky little motoring show” into a worldwide successful phenomenon that lasted for 13 years. They’re now starting out on a new show, and while it may not be as huge as the other one was, for a lot of reasons, it’s doing what they want it to do – entertaining millions of people. Let’s see how LeBlanc, Reid, and Harris are doing in 13 years before we relegate Clarkson, Hammond and May to the old folks’ home, okay?

  2. I also liked it. And I agree that the best parts of the old Top Gear was the cheap car challenges or the Epic journeys. But I also liked the races alot. My fav was the race across London. I wan’t to see more of this in both The Grand Tour as well as in this new Top Gear. My hope is that they will both succed. That way we can have to hopefully great car shows instead of just one.

  3. Top Gear is now like watching a plane which is abandon by pilot in the middle of the air, so you now the it will crash but you can’t tell when and how hard it will be, but this one judged by ratings is going fast to the ground .

  4. A lot better than the 23rd series, But still not close to TGT or top gear with Clarkson, May and Hammond. Too politically correct. I could have thought of tons of jokes they could have made in kazachstan, But it might upset someone, so they did not. I still like the dressed ape way more than leblanc.

  5. It was a good start I liked it , better than I thought it was going to be , however the extra gear was awful , terrible it would of been better to kill it off after series 1.

  6. I do agree with you on some points, it was far better then series 23 of Top Gear. I do agree that it was funnier than Grand Tour. I think that there needs to be some improvement in the studio segments. But think about it, series 23, even though Chris Evans was in there, it started off worse, but it did improve over the series. And i definitely think this will be the same. Overall, i did enjoy it and i do think that it can be as good as it once was. I understand that a lot of people do not like Matt, i admit i did not like him to begin with, but as series 23 continued i found his dry humor quite funny. I am glad they are not trying to be like JC, RH and JM. They should just be themselves and i think it will work in that way.

  7. I watched it and it’s okay. To be honest it’s a bit dull. I don’t like Rory – his accent was not good. Matt was just average. Only Chris Harris was good.

  8. I really hope that 1 day we shall see the times of the p1 , 918 and the la Ferrari on the top gear test track , we are aware that the Ferrari had been round the track but don’t know the time . These times are probably the old top gears dying wish and therefore out of spite they never will .

  9. Watched it, and I have to say, it’s better then under the “Evans regime”, but still bad. It’s bland, boring, full of “irrelevant twaddle”. Cheap attempts at jokes, a lot of chatting with celebrities, etc. The cheap car challenge was ok, it was informative (now i know to buy a Merc next time I need a car), and the “runaway London cab”(that’s something Hammond would do, and go wrong so fast) was funny. But that’s it.

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