Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds the Top Gear Presenters Still Learning Their Roles and Is Gripped by the Replacement

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Finds the Top Gear Presenters Still Learning Their Roles and Is Gripped by the Replacement

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

DURING its golden age, the popular motoring magazine show Top Gear (BBC iPlayer) wasn't about cars. There were automobiles, of course, but they were props around which the three presenters, Compo ( Jeremy Clarkson), Cleggy ( James May) and Nora Batty (Richard Hammond), convened to satirise their enfeebled masculinity by insulting each other and making jokes about Mexicans. It was three men in a shed arguing about crank shafts.

Then came the crash. The shed collapsed, the three amigos escaped with the Christmas club money, and the job was passed to the crash-test dummy, Chris Evans. But we can forget about him now. In the matryoshka doll of Top Gear presenters, he is Konstantin Chernenko: he seemed like a good idea at the time, was overpowered by the transitional charisma of the sitcom Gorbachev, Matt LeBlanc, and has now been erased from history. LeBlanc is an enigma, in that he is famous for playing stupid, and is thus eminently qualified for the job. Is he really as stupid as he seems? (Relax! This is television! Questionable stupidity is as good as it gets!) And thankfully, LeBlanc has relaxed. He has two sidekicks, both of whom seem to know about cars, though they will surely get over that. LeBlanc plays the doofus, so Chris Harris gets to be rude, and Rory Reid grins and bears it. As blokes, they are quite good. They can say things like "crazy-fast" and "insane diffuser" and make it feel faintly factual, when it is actually entertainment. They can patronise people in Kazakhstan, making jokes about goat polo. They can destroy a melon with a pressure washer, and which of us can honestly say we haven't fantasised about doing that? But still there is a problem of tone. Essentially, it is a matter of class. Jeremy Clarkson was (is) never sincere. He employs the mannered self-mockery of the country's finest public schools so he can dominate people while laughing loudly at himself. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.