In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Returns, Two-Face (played by Aaron Eckhart) famously said “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Well, after letting go of the man who revived the show from the dead, the BBC and Top Gear are learning how it feels to be the villain amongst most automotive fans from around the world.
With that being said, the Beebs have certainly felt their share of the pain this past year. Whether you want to call it karma or the balancing of the Force, Top Gear has gone through what some would say is the nightmare situation to a post-Clarksonian era. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on.
Season 23 Premiere Backlash Starts Downward Spiral
Anyone with half a brain knew what was coming in the first season of Top Gear without Clarkson, Hammond and May. The comparisons, criticisms and backlash from fans around the world came in waves and Season 23 could only last 6 episodes before things got really bad.
The main problem was the arrogance of the BBC to think that they could replace Clarkson, Hammond and May with three brand new hosts. To think the show will be the same shows the root of arguments that they famously had with Clarkson and Andy Wilman and the victims of this ignorance were the new hosts, Evans, LeBlanc and especially Chris Harris.
Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on i Player. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks.
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) May 30, 2016
Evans’ famous tweet after the first episode of Season 23, but as you’ll see below, the numbers began to decline sharply as fans began to defect in droves.
Chris Evans Quits Top Gear
The numbers don’t lie, as Chris Evans clearly states in his tweets and they showed that the last episode of Top Gear that Evans appeared on had the lowest ratings since Jeremy Clarkson revamped the show in 2002. That led Evan’s stepping away from the three year contract he signed in 2015 and a very public life of ridicule from the famously harsh UK press.
Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best.
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) July 4, 2016
Evans’ noted feud with co-host Matt LeBlanc didn’t make things easier as the show lacked the chemistry which made it a global success. Even with that, the biggest reason fans turned on Evans was inability to step out of Jeremy Clarkson’s huge shadows while trying to be Jeremy Clarkson. It seemed disingenuous and a weak attempt to pander to a much smarter audience than Evans gave them credit for.
Top Gear Experience Goes Bankrupt
Top Gear Track will turn into a Housing Development
Top Gear Calendar Mistake with Ferrari
The Success of The Grand Tour
Yes, there are scripting issues and the hurdles of creating a show without being sued by the BBC, but the general consensus is that Jeremy Clarkson has come out the winner here with the wildly successful launch of The Grand Tour on Amazon.
We are seven and half episodes into their premiere season and the chemistry that built Top Gear into what it was is now on full display with adventures and car reviews that appeal to automotive fans from around the world.
There are kinks to work out, but as Clarkson, Hammond and May figure things out, they are trending up, whereas Top Gear can only pray and hope that Season 24 can stop the downward spiral they currently are on.
With the new younger collective of hosts in LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid, let’s hope that they can build a worthy rival to Clarkson, Hammond and May, so that the biggest beneficiaries of this competition will be us, the fans!