Top GearAlthough not directly “magic” related I was asked about the new series of Top Gear (presented by Chris Evans) that recently re-started on the BBC. The chap who asked if I liked it is an American, likes cars and enjoys watching Top Gear on BBC America, and seemed surprised why I said I wasn’t keen on it. He asked why.

Ok, I’m not a TV producer, director or script writer – but I do like to think I have some ideas about presenting and maintaining interest. After all, I regularly stand on a stage in front of 100s of people and entertain them for 45 minutes; and with a lot less resources than the BBC’s multi-million pound budget.

My thoughts on the new Top Gear

Anyway, my thoughts:

It was trying to be too similar to the ‘old’ Top Gear.

The BBC should have taken the opportunity to re-develop the format, not just attempt to pick up from where it left off but with new presenters. (Actually there was an even older Top Gear in the 90’s; which was completely updated when it was taken over by Clarkson – they should’ve taken the opportunity to do Top Gear 3.0, not 2.1)

The challenge didn’t really have a point. When Clarkson, Hammond and May attempt something there is an objective. The entertainment occurs on the journey to get there. Simply painting some 3-wheelers isn’t a challenge.

No one would deny that old TG was scripted, but the script was really just ad-libbing around some bullet points which was created by the presenters themselves – saying their own words. This new series has script-writers. How can you review a car or react to a mishap if your reciting a script?

And the new presenters are presenting to the live audience, not directly to the viewer at home. Clarkson would look down the camera when he spoke, occasionally eliciting rapport with the audience. Evans is trying to work the audience, and doing this by shouting. (I stand on stage in front of hundreds of people for 45 minutes – I know a little about presenting!)

It’s also obvious the international market is being catered for. The subtly of the British humour has gone. Perhaps this isn’t so obvious to non-Brits?

Ok, it’s only been one episode. It’ll take a while for the new “characters” to be established, but trying to copy the old format is naturally going to bring comparison, and that’s where the BBC have made the biggest mistake.

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