Did you catch the first episode of the new series of Top Gear last night? What did you think of it?
OK, now we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you what I think. Only I’m not going to because – sorry, Mr Editor – I don’t think it matters what I think. My brief was to write an opinion piece on the series 25 curtain-raiser, but really, what’s the point?
Sure, the BBC will be monitoring the ratings, hoping to improve on the 1.9 million or so who tuned in to watch the final episode of series 24, which was down from 2.8 million for the season premiere.
To provide some context, 14 million watched an episode of Blue Planet II in October 2017, while 10 million tuned in to watch some fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Heck, even the first episode of the ill-fated Chris Evans series managed a peak of 4.7 million.
Unlike just about every other Top Gear preview or review over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to get this far without mentioning the C word. That’s ‘Clarkson’, in case you were wondering.
Drawing comparisons with the Clarkson era of Top Gear – not to mention The Grand Tour – is inevitable, but can’t we just move on and embrace the variety? The fact is, we’ve never had it so good.
So many people saying ‘Oh, #TopGear isn’t the same without Clarkson, Hammond and May’.
They’re doing The Grand Tour – watch it, it’s great. And you also have Top Gear, which is great. Two great things. What is there to complain about? 🤷🏼♂️
— 𝔻𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕖𝕝 𝔹𝕖𝕧𝕚𝕤 📝🇪🇺 (@denialvibes) February 25, 2018
I’ve been a fan of Top Gear since the days of Tony Mason’s hat, Chris Goffey’s beard, Jezza’s afro and Michelle Newman’s Alice band. Back then, Top Gear was your only real hope of anything motoring-related on TV, unless something made the news, such as yet another strike at Austin Rover or Lancia’s rust scandal.
Today, aside from the two flagship motoring shows, there’s a seemingly infinite number of channels to choose from, some of which offer car-based entertainment. Wheeler Dealers and Car SOS are two of the best, but there are others of varying degrees of quality.
Then there’s the increasing number of YouTube channels, which allow you to select from a menu to suit just about every taste. From the brilliantly eccentric HubNut to Jonny Smith’s relaunched and excellent Carpervert, you’ll find enough content to last a lifetime of lunchtimes.
If you didn’t enjoy Top Gear, that’s fine. But can we put an end to the Blur/Oasis-like TG/TGT comparisons? I’m yet to stumble across a television without an ‘off’ button, so why don’t you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the first episode, but I’ll spare you the root and branch examination of the complete 60 minutes. Besides, I couldn’t tell you anything about the celebrity bit as I was too busy making a cuppa.
I’ll still find more interest in a Chris Goffey review of an Escort XR3 or watching Clarkson’s trying to squeeze his hair beneath the roofline of a Porsche 968, but that’s just me. The vast majority of TV shows hold no interest, but I won’t waste your time or mine telling you how much I don’t enjoy them.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m about to spend the next 50 minutes listening to the best album of the 1990s – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Opinions, eh? Don’t you just love ’em?
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