I don't want to start this story by rehashing the past. As memorable and entertaining as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were, they have moved on and so should we.
More so, as it’s an insult to the current three helming the series: Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid. Yes, the show has received mixed opinions. But that’s the fate of any TV series. When you replace the talent you haemorrhaged, fans become outraged because the dynamics have been altered. They might adapt, á la Two and a Half Men, or not. It’s a gamble.
Back to the 24th instalment of the show, which comprises seven episodes: car enthusiasts are in for an adventure. The petrol-head presenters journey across Kazakhstan in cars with half-a-million miles on the clock.
They also explore old-school motorsport in Cuba. And, the best part – they get to drive around the globe in some of the best steel beasts money can buy, from a Ferrari FXX K to the Aston Martin DB11. The Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo Giulia also clock a few kilometres on the show.
And the presenters are revved up for this season.
Harris said: “Top Gear is all about the cars. We’ve got humour in it, but the unique premise of the show is: it all starts with the car. If you look at the metal we are squeezing into this season, it is mouth-watering. I would say, it is the strongest season of cars Top Gear has ever had – and I will happily stand by that statement.
“The people who work behind the scenes are incredible. For one film we made with a Ferrari, we only had a day to shoot it. Now, that is not enough time, but it was one of those opportunities that you would never get again. Only by the sheer excellence and maximum efficiency by the crew on the day itself did we smash it.
“And we really enjoyed it. Matt, Rory and I front the programme but the size of the show behind the scenes is a juggernaut. It sounds so glib but the three of us can’t do it unless everyone else is mega at their job.”
Reid added: “I have had some pretty surreal moments. I have just returned from Cuba. I took part in a massive drive across a country that is so alien to so many people. It was about 30°C while it was -2°C back home. We also looked at their culture over there and it was fascinating to take part in it. What is different about this season is we are talking to people and allowing them to have a voice. We want them to share their stories and bring something else to the programme”.
Golden Globe award-winning actor LeBlanc also has the fifth season of Episodes, which is a dramedy where he plays a larger-than-life version of himself.
He adds: “There’s lots of humour. For example, we film one in a Bond sequence that involves me driving an Aston Martin. I don’t want to give too much away but it centres around two guys poking fun at each other and having a good time.
“They are chasing each other, and then they are both chased.
“There is a balance in the show. We also talk about cars that are beautiful, the smoothness to them, the fluidity, and we use adjectives that are universal.”
Witty banter is sacrosanct to the series.
Le Blanc agrees: “What people forget is that, for the three guys that were on the show before us, it took them a while to build up a rapport. This is now the first season for the three of us and it does take a little while.
“You take the three people, put them together in a room and say ‘it’s in your interest to get along’ and everyone is open to getting along – but it takes a little while to speed up the shorthand. But what’s great is we are now getting to a point where we are really starting to click. We are having so much fun together.”
As for what each brings to the table: Reid seems to be the perfectionist with a boyish quality of bright-eyed excitement; LeBlanc is the friendly bear with some serious skills behind the wheel; and Harris is the guy who is not just fanatical about cars, he’s obsessed with the mechanics of it, too.
Looks like viewers are in for another fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled series.
Top Gear 24 starts on BBC Brit (DStv Channel 120) on Wednesday at 8pm.