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Top Gear (Series 23, Episode 1) – TV Review

On Sunday night at 8:00pm on BBC2, the all new re-boot of the much loved British motoring show Top Gear hit our screens, and they certainly had a good go of trying to re-vamp the show. But will it be the hit it was without Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May?

Probably not.

The new presenters, radio DJ Chris Evans and Friends star Matt LeBlanc, just don’t have the same chemistry as Clarkson, May and Hammond, not to mention Chris Evans being insanely annoying and incredibly unfunny. The instantly likeable Matt LeBlanc, on the other hand, is actually very amusing and is one of the best things about the new Top Gear.

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Also with a new show and new presenters brings new segments of Top Gear. The usual ‘Star in the Reasonably Priced Car’ has now been replaced with an all new rally cross race course, where stars now drive a new rally car. The first stars to appear on the segment, Chef Gordon Ramsey and actor Jesse Eissenberg, seemed to enjoy their time cruising around the racetrack and it’s pretty entertaining too.

As well as the new features, the show went in pretty big for the first episode, obviously trying to impress. And they very nearly did. Matt LeBlanc got to do some off-roading in a desert in a car chase-style photo challenge with a dirt bike, drone and some parachute contraption, and Evans and LeBlanc went on a fairly amusing UK vs USA road trip in old three wheeler cars.

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Forgetting the actual car format of the show for one second, the comedy content of this new incarnation is pretty bad and was more often than not cringe-worthy and flat, sometimes feeling as though they’re trying to overcompensate for Clarkson, May and Hammond not being there.

On the whole, though the new Top Gear is a bittersweet watch, it is better than expected. Matt LeBlanc does a surprisingly good job at presenting, some of the new features are pretty good and it is fairly funny. But it is simply not the same without Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

It doesn’t feel like Top Gear.

2.5/5

Dir: Mark McQueen

Scr: Danny Baker, Paul Kerensa

Cast: Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc

Prd: Sarah Howard, Katherine Kissane, Emma Lawerence

Country: UK

Runtime: 60 Minutes

Year: 2016