back to article Matt LeBlanc handed £1.5m to front next two series of Top Gear

Former Friends star Matt MeBlanc has penned a £1.5m deal with licence fee payers of the BBC to front up Top Gear for the next two series. Joining the chisel jawed comedy actor are car journos Chris Harris and Rory Reid, along with regular guests including domineering ex-Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan, pro motor racer …

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  1. andy 28

    Episodes

    It'll be better without Evans, and Matt is quite watchable though you can't help but compare with his role in Episodes. Pity about EJ, he's one of the many reasons why F1 isn't worth watching

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Episodes

      Indeed, I can only hope they quietly get rid of Eddie Jordan before he does any more damage. He was terrible on Top Gear and he makes the F1 coverage worse.

      1. Shades

        Re: Episodes

        Shirley you both mean Eddie "When I Had a Team" Jordan?

    2. peter 45

      Re: Episodes

      Yep. Eddie looked as if someone's granddad had wandered onto the set by mistake.

  2. 0laf Silver badge

    If it sells he'll be worth the money

    I wasn't against Evans getting the TG job but it really didn't work. I think the remaining 3 have a fighting chance at least.

    EJ, I just don't get what he's there for.

    1. 142

      Re: If it sells he'll be worth the money

      Evans was sabotaged, by himself bottling it, the previous team refusing to adapt, or BBC management being idiots. Someone refused to change up the show, and I can't figure out which.

      It was blindingly obvious that he was never going to work in a slow paced, wink-and-nod, show like Jeremy and co's Top Gear. He's just not that kind of presenter. He's the king of facepaced, chaotic shows.

      Why he didn't transform it to his strengths, I'll never know. It would have been great, and it would have alienated plenty of people I'm sure, too! But at least it wouldn't have been that trainwreck!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Evans was sabotaged

        No, Evans was always completely wrong for the job.

        My suspicion is that top brass at the beeb made a bit of a panic decision when they realised their cash cow was in the process of falling apart, which went along the lines of:

        - Right, this 'Top Gear' business, thats a rather 'Petrol Head' show isn't it.

        - Who've we got on the payroll who is a petrol head ?

        - Ooh, we seem to have Chris Evans, he's rather populal on the radio isn't he - and he knows somethign about cars?

        - Right get him in!

        ...completely overlooking the whole point of the show, which is that Top Gear is a bunch of laughs with infantile humour, with exotic cars mixed in. It is NOT 'Fifth Gear'.

        Evans was never the guy for the job - I really could not stand his high pitched voice, and feedback in the media suggests that neither could a lot of other viewers. I have no idea why Eddie Jordan was brought it - again thats trying to turn TG back into Fifth Gear.

        Now, Steve Cougan on the other hand ... I'm astonished that he was never mentioned as an option. I really think his dry sense of humour would have worked, and he is a proper, Ferarri-driving, 'Petrol Head'.

        IMHO, Le Blanc works because he's got the right laddish attitude. Also the young black guy (whos name, embarrasingly, I can't recall right now - Rory Reid?) was a good addition to the show.

        Finally, I hope they keep Sabine Schmidt a part of the show - she's got attitude and talent by the bucketload.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: If it sells he'll be worth the money

      It wont work because TG was more than a "name" and format. It was an amalgamation of the original 3, silly ideas and chemistry. They would have been better off spending the 1.5million on developing a new format rather than trying to compete with the old TG.

      1.5mil for one presenter though. Fucking fuck that's a waste of money.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: If it sells he'll be worth the money

        Danny 14 : BBC Worldwide are paying it, out of TG sales

        142 : Actually that would have been worse, he is just too hectic for many people, I have found him irritating since TFIF

  3. Peter X

    EJ

    I don't mind EJ on F1 because he does at least know the business and is happy to ask rich, important people awkward questions. But I wouldn't have bothered with him for Top Gear... there's just no point in him. I'm not even sure if he's really that into cars - in a petrol-head way?

    Rory Reid was better than I had expected and I think he improved with each Extra Gear and you need his character to help with Chris Harris's dryness.

    I hope they put the Reasonably-Priced-Car track back to how it was before. The changes they made were stoopid. I'm also not 100% convinced that having two stars to interview/race was a good idea either.

    1. 142

      Re: EJ

      EJ definitely does like *racing*, whatever about liking cars as such. He was a former F3 and F2 driver, and (according to wiki) a McLaren tester, before being a team boss.

      I wonder if they're using him the right way? I didn't watch much of him on the new Top Gear, but there should be plenty of scope for hilarious stories based on the old pro running rings around the new guys, especially if they got their hands on some old F3 cars from the 70s.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: EJ

        I really like him on F1 he adds the former team boss element (don't see Sky having one of them) to complement the former driver in the shape of DC. The only problem I have with F1 is the German coverage (when C4 aren't showing it live) has adverts in. For Top Gear I didn't think Evans worked and they need to get Jodie Kidd in alongside MLB and one of the other lads CH or RR and go back to making a show that is mostly about the laughs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EJ

      I'm also not 100% convinced that having two stars to interview/race was a good idea either.

      I suspect this is where the accountants came in. Making such a show costs money, and the longer you can make the waffly bits, the less you have to spend on the show (important consideration of you just ended up with a £50M hole in your budget that you can't really ask the license payer to fill). People don't watch the show for deep insight into the (car)life of the stars, and that segment just had too much prominence. It's a good thing fewer people were watching, because I think that would have become the kettle segment: the time you realise that you won't miss much when making a cup of tea..

      Speaking of accountants - would it not be better to take the best bits out of the actual show and the "background" episode which was really just another show segment?

      I've never really been a fan of Chris Evans as I don't like his voice and his extravert personality, but he's given it at least a go (well, for good money I'd imagine). That said, not only do I have to give him thumbs up for broadcasting the "stop because I need to barf" segment when Sabine Schmitz showed him what real driving is, using an Audi (and, let's be honest, it IS harder as a passenger), I also think he was predestined to fail. He had to find a middle ground between taking over a show with established personalities and quirks and somehow give it a new spin (pardon the pun) without changing it so much that it was no longer Top Gear, and without making it a "Chris Evans and other people" type show, which would work more with his personality.

      I might not like the guy, but hat off for trying - it was never easy. At least they now know what doesn't work - a process that also took a few years for the previous team..

      1. Matt 21

        Re: EJ

        EJ should have intelligent comments to make based on his experience in F1 but that's not what comes across. He does manage to get the big interviews but never manages to ask the right questions and he always sucks up to Bernie and never puts him under pressure.

        Isn't the Irish expression a "gob shite"?

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

      Rupert Grint, Frankie Boyle, Tim Minchin...

      In fact.. just get Boyle in to do a guest episode. I'd watch topgear for that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        In fact.. just get Boyle in to do a guest episode. I'd watch topgear for that.

        Well, guest presenters worked quite well on Have I Got News For You after Angus Deayton, so that might work :).

      2. Huw D

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        <Boyle>

        Well, quite frankly, this car's got about as much charisma as a Glaswegian herion addict...

        </Boyle>

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Huw D
            Pint

            Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

            a) Apologies for the typo on "heroin". I sent myself to bed with no supper for that one.

            b) Frankie Boyle tends to stereotype all Scots as heroin addicts and I was using that route, honest. ;)

            c) Pint of anything would be great.

          2. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

            "Glaswegian herion(sic) addict."

            Bzzt tautology.

      3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        In fact.. just get Boyle in to do a guest episode. I'd watch topgear for that.

        Yeah, but after the lawyers had vetted the show, how much would be left?

      4. Goldmember

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        Tim Minchin identifies as Australian, not British

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        Hang on, I thought Tim Minchin was Australian ...

    2. Kurt Meyer

      Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

      Chris Evans, Prince Harry, Rupert Grint, Frankie Boyle. Zzzzzz.

      If you want to have a Ginger, I have a suggestion.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: arguably the UK’s most famous ginger man

        There is only ONE ginger for the role.

        L & G, I give you Mrs Horner, fka Ginger spice.

        Can you imagine all that pillow talk, fired up on Red Bull.

        Pistons, big ends fnarr, fnarr.

  5. Huw D

    So...

    "Joining the chisel jawed comedy actor are car journos Chris Harris and Rory Reid, along with regular guests including domineering ex-Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan, pro motor racer Sabine Schmitz and The Stig."

    It's the same as last year, without the Ginger One then?

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Let's hope not. That LeBlanc isn't as bad as Evans won't fix things; it needs a kick up the arse just to get it back into third gear.

      Evans was dire, 'kid's show' and shouty, the rest just so-so, set dressing. Eddie Jordan could have been replaced by the proverbial tub of lard. The 'road trips' were inane. The 'Star in a RPC' segment became dull and stupid. The interviews tedious. Above all, it felt contrived with none of the past sparkle.

      It seemed like they were dragging a dead carcass around, trying to pretend it was still alive. I can watch any old crap but that doesn't make me a viewer.

      I gave it a chance. I more often than not ended up fast-forwarding 85%, watching about 15%. And it never held its own against old re-runs of TG on Dave.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: So...

      More Chris Harris is always welcome as far as I'm concerned. In fact, the TG Extra that he and Rory were doing was probably the best bit of the last season of Top Gear.

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  7. I Like Heckling

    Still Undecided

    Granted LeBlanc did kinda grow into the role by the end... Evans was a trainwreck from start to finish... Whilst the 2 proper motoring journos were a breath of fresh air. EJ is a terrible presenter regardless of his knowledge. His presenting style on the BBC's F1 shows was cringe worthy and alongside Coulthard made for the dullest pairing in sports history.

    It's why I stopped watching F1 on the BBC after they sold out fans to Sky... a terrible move, and then selling out to C4;.. who as a publicly funded station should be barred from stealing shows from the BBC and instead create of find their own shows... or have their funding withdrawn.

    I'm not sure if LeBlanc can carry the entire show, but his dry humour and deadpan style is far more likeable than Evans Clarkson impersonation ever was.

    1. djack

      Re: Still Undecided

      In partial defence of C4 as I totally agree with your thoughts about that other show (which was a totally different set of circumstances) ..

      The BBC clearly didn't want F1 and were trying to do so in as quick a way as possible. So C4 picking it up has been a very good thing indeed. Whilst they haven't done quite as well as the BBC did in previous years, their coverage hasn't been too bad and also their live race sessions are broadcast advert-free (which wouldn't happen if a more commercial terrestrial channel picked it up).

      With regards to EJ, he is essential viewing in the F1, his knowledge and insight is second to none (I don't believe any rumour until he has repeated it) but in TG he was totally wasted - not that I suppose he minded being paid to travel 1st class on the orient express.

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Still Undecided

        I agree with you djack's comment about C4 picking up F1 from the BBC.

        However, I disagree with comments about EJ. I can't think of any insightful comment he's ever made. He tends to brown nose and mostly talks rubbish. He's quite happy to tell you X is Y when you can see on the screen for yourself that X isn't Y. Quite frankly he's a waste of space.

        DC and Ben Edwards work quite well together... not legendary talent as they don't play off each other as well as Murrey and James Hunt did but you can't always have that.

        Mind you I think I'll give yp on it once Sky get all the coverage... or start watching it in French for free.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still Undecided

          If you've not watched it in French for a while, you probably won't know it went encrypted on TF1 ages ago, then to Canal+.

          You could try in German on RTL but it has ads including PiP.

    2. Quando

      Re: Still Undecided

      @I like heckling : C4 is publicly owned, but self funds from advertising and other activities. Hasn't had any government money in a long time.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. JustNiz

      Re: Still Undecided

      > Whilst the 2 proper motoring journos were a breath of fresh air.

      The only 2 credible car people on the show are Chris Harris and Sabine Schmitz. Chris is both an excellent driver and seriously knows about cars. Sabine is genuinely quick at least around the Nurburgring. The rest are just talentless space-filling "celebs" that can't drive properly, don't know too much, and have absolutely zero valuable insights to share. Given EJ won the Irish Kart Championship in 1971 and used to race in Formula Ford before he managed his Formula 1 team, I really expected more from him than some boring senile old duffer that clearly can't even drive safely on the road any more. After season 1 I have literally no idea WTF he's even doing on the show.

      They should have just given the show to Chris and Sabine. Sorry but Matt LeBlanc doesn''t cut it either. At least he might have been bought some good humour to the show, but for most of Season 1 he looked like he was on antidepressants.

  8. M7S

    If Chris Evans had stayed

    The incentive for autonomous vehicles would have become far more pressing

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: If Chris Evans had stayed

      Because of the increased likelihood of him being run over by one?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Chris Evans had stayed

      Couldn't stand him on Radio 2 when he took over from Terry Wogan, and refused to watch any Top Gear episodes even out of curiosity as I didn't want to inflate the viewing figures.

      Presume that they are now going to be repeated on Dave - but if I fast forward the ads as well as the bits with him in, will there be anything left to watch?

      1. Just Enough

        Re: If Chris Evans had stayed

        >refused to watch any Top Gear episodes even out of curiosity as I didn't want to inflate the viewing figures.

        Unless you're part of the BARB sample, no one knows or cares what you personally are watching.

  9. inmypjs Silver badge

    About the only good thing

    I can say about LeBlanc is he doesn't constantly instil a desire to punch him in the face.

    Wish I could deduct an Amazon Prime membership from the BBC license fee.

  10. NanoMeter

    Looked like he did a good job in the last season. He's a keeper.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      I thought so.

      His biggest problem was playing second fiddle to Evans. While Evans seemed to be trying to channel Clarkson, and failing abysmally (as well as just being an annoying twat*), LeBlanc was just being himself - and seemed to be getting more comfortable presenting as the series went on.

      * I enjoyed Don't Forget Your Toothbrush - but I was a lot younger then. I've found him annoying ever since, though.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously tough...

    Is it true that all gingers smell of piss?

    That might be why Matt LeBlanc wanted Chris Evans off the show.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously tough...

      Give me your phone number, I'll let you smell me.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Seriously tough...

        Can you do that over the phone now? I'm impressed!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seriously tough...

          "Steps removed and sequence shortened. Network speeds may vary."

          Thanks for helping me get an IT angle in there!

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Seriously tough...

      No but your comment reminds me of what comes out the other side.

  12. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well, it'll sell to the 'Muricans then if one of their own fronts it. Downside is they'll just review trucks and SUVs !!

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