As a reviewer, it doesn’t generally fall upon me to declare my interest or otherwise in a show. But the newly emerged incarnation of Top Gear isn’t an ordinary television event and therefore I feel the need.

I really liked the Clarkson, May & Hammond thing. Yes, it was based on the kind of laddy bants, public schoolboy schtick that generally has me reaching for a bucket and/or baseball bat, but I enjoy humour of all kinds and the relationship between the three men(honed over a thirteen year period, I might add) had its roots in the same ground as the great comedy partnerships of old that I love.

After months of build-up, rumour, speculation and relentless admonishment by certain BBC-aggressive British newspapers, the Chris Evans’ fronted Top Gear emerged onto our screens last night, to boos and caterwauls from Clarkson disciples, critics and literally anyone else who was indoors at the time of the broadcast.

The level of antipathy would have been startling even if BBC had broadcast a still photo of Chris Evans naked for an hour.

Therefore it’s even more peculiar that everyone saw fit to fall on it and give it a good kicking when it was absolutely fine. Yes, the presenters are yet to find their groove, but you can’t grow camaraderie and chemistry in a lab. It’s takes time, sometimes about thirteen years. Sabine Schmidt and Chris Evans’ Top Gun race was fun, Matt LeBlanc’s unease with a live studio made chemistry between the former Friends’ star’s and his ebullient co-host’s patter feel a little forced, but was compensated for in the Reliant Robin race, and we got to see Gordon Ramsey get smashed by Teddy Sheringham in slo-mo, which in all other walks of life would be worth the licence fee alone.

If you hated it, fine, but tell me this. What were the BBC supposed to do? Drop one of the most lucrative shows in their history because they no longer had the original presenters available? Or perhaps you think they should have continued to tolerate Clarkson’s spoilt rich kid petulance and bullish boundary pushing, which they already had done for years?

clarkson

He’s to blame for this, let’s be under no illusion. Instead of accepting the burden of having to go on telly and drive about in expensive cars with his mates gracefully, he kept pushing until the publicly funded broadcaster had little alternative but to let him go.

Violence in the workplace is unacceptable and to have renewed Clarkson’s contract would have tacitly condoned it. The fact that Oisin Tymon received the full force of the Top Gear fan bases ire says more about them than it does of Tymon, and unfortunately of a viewing public following the anti-BBC party line to the point of blind faith.

The whole situation reminds me a little of the tedious outcry when Jacqui Oatley had the temerity to commentate on a game of football in 2007. The wails of she sounds shrill and women should be dusting the telly, not talking on it that accompanied Oatley’s excellent work died down when people got used to it and the same will happen here. The immediate reaction on social media might be cacophonous now but as Alkaline Trio pointed out in dark pop punk classic, ‘You’re Dead’: …

…if assholes could fly, this place would be busier than O’Hare.

They’ll get over it. And if they don’t, well, it isn’t like Clarkson and his cohorts are prohibited from reinforcing masculine stereotypes on another channel shortly, with a much bigger budget and a whole new bunch of cheap shots at the BBC at their disposal.

But people, don’t be under any illusion. It was Clarkson that stamped on your toy Lambo, not Evans or the BBC. Stop blowing smoke his arse. If he gets any higher off the ground you won’t be able to hear him any more.

KW

Top Gear is on Sundays, BBC 2 at 8pm. 

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