With just over a week to go until Series 18, Top Gear fans are shifting their focus from the fairly dismal India Special over to the new series. The big question is – what can we expect? If you hate spoilers, you’d better stop reading now.
For a kick off, Top Gear was spotted late last year testing three exotic supercars (the Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP12-4C and Noble M600) in Lecce, Italy. On January 29th, we’ll watch them begin with testing these cars at the Nardo Ring, before driving through Rome and ending up at Imola. We also saw spy shots of Jeremy and James in Beijing, China – looking at a bunch of Chinese cars which all looked suspiciously similar to a few European models. Add to that, less than a week ago the boys were spotted in Abergavenny, South Wales – where they were testing modified mobility scooters.
For the Top Gear team, the subject of retirement may hit a little too close to home. Last year James May addressed some ‘end of TopGear’ rumors which were flying around at the time. He said that TopGear with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May has a limited shelf life. Of course this is true – the boys are all getting older now and there is only so long they can keep going with the show before they’ll have to step aside. Some people suggest that Top Gear is well past its prime – and that they’ve run out of ideas, or that they stage too many of the accidents and follow a pre-written script. Jeremy as the power addicted speed demon, Richard as the bumbling idiot and James as “Captain Slow” who is always late or lost. Or both.
But not all hope is lost. Top Gear will have to keep evolving as a show in order to stay relevant – perhaps even going back to it’s roots as a slightly more serious car show, whilst still being entertaining – but not to the point of being stupid. Think Series 4 or 5. Remove the cliche characters, feature more car review segments – and by all means still go on road trips or hold cheap car challenges – but remove the whole “Ambitious but rubbish” or the “Oh no its gone wrong” part of the show. It has been done to death and it is no longer funny. It will also not translate very well to new hosts, should Jeremy, Richard or James retire and be replaced.
Speaking of the boys – they were spotted last week having a quick catch up with their executive producer, Andy Wilman, outside a coffee shop in Notting Hill. After being strangely silent on the subject of the Indian Special, they no doubt had much to talk about in regards to the new series. Series 17 was seen as a bit of a return to form for Top Gear – with a little less scripted ‘cocking about’ and more good road tests, a few challenges and an interesting road trip to Italy. They really need to continue building on this new found strength, if they’re going to have any chance of making it to Series 20 and beyond.
So, can Top Gear keep the ball rolling? We’ll all find out on the 29th..