|2016 TopGear lineup:|
Rory Reid - Sabine Schmitz - Matt LeBlanc - Chris Evans - Chris Harris - Eddie Jordan - The Stig
So, you know all those rumours about who would present the next generation of TopGear? Well, er, all of them are true. All of them. Except the ones about David Coulthard and Jenson Button, who found other jobs to do with F1 cars. There are now six human presenters to support The Stig, who some say is actually the brains behind all this. Let's get to know them...
As well as having what's probably Johnathan Ross's favourite name to pronounce, Rory Reid is the winner of a public casting call that Chris Evans organised last year to find presenting talent. He's not just any guy off the street, though; as well as being Editor in Chief of motoring and tech website Recombu, he's hosted car reviews and some slightly out-there tests on YouTube with some acclaim. Until he does something awesome on TG, his calling card remains a spoken poem review of the facelifted Rolls-Royce Ghost:
Outside of presenting he seems pretty chill and down-to-earth. He's been handling the inevitable tabloid scrutiny with class and calm. It'll be interesting to see how his relative lack of TV experience but practiced presenting skills set him up for TopGear. Reid will also be presenting Extra Gear, a spin-off behind-the-scenes show on the now online-only BBC III, alongside Chris Harris.
If you haven't heard of this German racing driver then you clearly need to watch more Dave. Sabine Schmitz is known as "the Queen of the Nürburgring," having grown up there with her parents who run a hotel business at the circuit. Her longtime day job was to give passenger rides in a BMW M5 around the Nordschleife, with weekends spent racing there professionally. She has previously appeared three times on TopGear, first to teach Jeremy how to drive a V6 diesel Jaguar S-Type around the Green Hell in under ten minutes (he achieved a very TV-friendly 9:59 in the end) and then to try setting the same time in an equally diesel-y second-hand Ford Transit van. Her best was a 10:08 with a slipstream and a stripped out van, which given that when this episode aired a decade or so ago she had done "14-15,000 laps" would suggest that really was the limit on that day. The third time was in a semi-staged competition between the three stooges and the German equivalent of TG.
In each appearance on TopGear as well as a couple on Fifth Gear, she showed a cool, impish and very un-German sense of humour which should go well with the show long term. She also gets along with Chris Evans a lot better than Jeremy Clarkson, who she once scared witless and has found difficult to teach. To top it all off, she is as you would imagine a true petrolhead, having first been taken around the 'Ring at just six months old, driven it herself for the first time aged 17 with no licence when she "borrowed" her mother's BMW 316i... and later won the 24-hour endurance race twice. A solid addition to the lineup that should please most.
JOEY FROM FRIENDS?! Why the hell?! Before you say the show's gone mad and lost its soul, don't forget that he's been on the show before as a guest, setting the lap record by a mere tenth of a second and acquitting himself well by pointing out that he's modified his Porsche 911 Turbo (seriously, he loves 911s). He's even presented a TopGear programme in the US called TopGear: The Races, which was basically him segueing from one clip of TG UK doing a race/challenge, to another.
Further qualification to present a motoring programme comes in the fact that he owns roughly a hundred dirt bikes and works on his machinery himself, much like his fave James May. Having spent decades being slightly mad on screen also means he should know how to pander to the entertainment side of the show's character quite naturally. So really, he's actually less of an idiot's choice than you might think.. although it remains to be seen how much he will actually add substance to the show or how much of it will just be "Hey, I'm American."
The first confirmed TG3 presenter hasn't had the smoothest start in his new role as lead mentalist, depending on what you've read. Allegedly, he's thrown up in cars, had trouble driving and talking at the same time, struggled with Matt le Blanc (at least Sabine likes him) and generally been a bit of a live one. The Radio 2 morning presenter has also had to balance making this utterly insane car show with getting up at 4am to be DJ to millions at breakfast time, leaving him a little overworked. He's maintained throughout that he's loved it all, however, and I'd only be cynical to doubt that.
Evans is not a motoring journalist, but with his vast collection of priceless Ferraris which he lets people drive for themselves sometimes, his love of cars must go unchallenged, plus his eccentric enthusiasm could yet give the show a good character. Possibly. Despite the five co-presenters, TopGear is now seen very much as his baby, so if you hate it, blame him the most. Do the same if you love it or are indifferent towards it.
You know about Chris Harris. If you don't, you're clearly not a car fan who uses the internet. I so wanted him to present TopGear and pretty much every comments section of his hugely popular YouTube films featured a number of people saying the same. He is a cast iron choice for a car show with the ability to entertain, being a long-serving motoring journalist, part-time racing driver (currently racing a Pro-Am Bentley GT3 car in the Blancpain GT Series) and a man unashamedly known for getting into trouble with car companies. He once pissed off Ferrari for revealing how dishonest their press cars are before later sneaking a go in a 458 Spider and giving it enough publicity for them to stop banning him from testing their cars, which lead to one of my favourite videos of his, hooning the life out of an F12 Berlinetta (we know he'll be giving the new TDF version similar treatment on the show). He has since moved on to pissing off Lamborghini by saying their cars all understeer and their owners are all poseurs who can't drive. His appetite for drifting is almost unparalleled and his ability to describe a car's handling is similarly strong. If you watch TopGear hoping for a car show, "Monkey" Harris is your best bet for favourite presenter.
Having identified racing talents from Michael Schumacher to early GT Academy entrants before co-presenting BBC's and now Channel 4's Formula 1 coverage, the former Jordan Grand Prix founder/boss is certainly good at commenting on racing drivers... but cars? This is perhaps the most surprising choice of all, certainly the hardest to place. What will he do? Surely not track tests and the like. The magazine revealed that one of his films involves taking alliterative a-list musicians to the world's highest pub, which to be fair does sound very him. What else lies in store for a captain of controversy on this show, we must wait and see...
Written by and for SmallBlogV8.