Chequered Reviews for New Top Gear

Is the new Top Gear the new Robin Reliant of primetime?

Broadcast magazine reports the new model “spluttered at the starting line, launching with the show’s worst series debut audience in at least a decade”.

And according to The Telegraph, “The show drew 4.4 million viewers, with a peak of 4.7 million, while the last series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May bowed out with 5.8 million viewers.”

But the Daily Mail reports Clarkson successor Chris Evans tweeted: ‘The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY” — pointing out its audience share was better than the last series.

The Guardian ran a selection of readers’ comments that at least were more considered than most of the predictably negative tweets while the paper’s own critic reckons it has “lots of polish but it’s still a secondhand car show.”

I was never a big fan of the original, preferring the road trip specials to the series because I enjoyed the the charismatic camaraderie of the presenters more than the vehicles they showcased.

But having had a quick look at the premiere on the BBC’s iPlayer, I agree with The Guardian’s take: “It’s not a disaster. It’s polished, the stunts (so many of them!) are fun, the tweaks are improvements. But it is a shame there wasn’t more in the way of refreshing the show itself. It’s just new people doing same old same old.”

Concurred The Telegraph: “On the evidence of this slickly entertaining relaunch the effort went not into reinvention but into ensuring the mechanics of the existing show were preserved in aspic. If proof were ever needed that format is stronger than presenter here it was.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Kiwi fans is Prime not turbo-tracking the series here. It won’t start until 7.30 Sunday when I’d have thought the timing of the show’s BBC run would have made it a perfect 7.30 Monday lead-in to 60 Minutes given the heightened interest in the Mark II version.

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