The studio segments for the first episode of Top Gear, which is due to be broadcast on Sunday May 29th, were filmed this week at Dunsfold Park – with new presenter Chris Evans telling the bigger studio audience to ‘forget about the previous look of the show’.
The format of the new episodes has reportedly been tweaked by the new producers, in an effort to give it a livelier feel with a hint of the atmosphere of Evans’ Channel 4 show TFI Friday, while Evans and co-star Matt LeBlanc compete to tell the best jokes. According to a source, Evans introduced the owners of his local curry house but joked he was “not allowed” to mention the catering on the programme – a clear reference to Clarkson’s fracas incident.
Evans admitted to being slightly nervous about the show, and admitted before filming started that “so many people don’t want this to work” – a remark that drew a laugh from the large studio audience. Evans also joked to LeBlanc by saying “We don’t want to not get on again,” after rumours circulated that the relationship between the two had been tense at times. Onlookers said there appeared to be an element of competitive humour between the pair, as they were seen laughing and joking together during breaks in filming.
Evans and Le Blanc’s on-screen banter and one-liners went down well with the large audience, estimated at 700, particularly when the DJ stopped his US counterpart ending the show with Clarkson’s standard “on that bombshell” sign-off.
At one point Evans made another remark about the old show, saying the time taken to film it was less than under the previous presenters. The producers had hoped, perhaps optimistically considering it was the first episode with a new team, to record it “as live” in an hour, the length of the transmitted show. However, due to moving the larger studio audience (some of whom were on a gallery above the main set) around for different shots and retakes it took three times that.