Top Gear vs. Jeremy Clarkson’s motoring show: Why Clarkson’s show will be better
It feels like hardly a day can go by without something popping up in the press about either the revamped Top Gear, starring Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, or Jeremy Clarkson’s still irritatingly unnamed motoring show, starring the old dream team of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
Here’s all we know so far about both shows, and why we think Amazon’s new show will pip the BBC’s version to the post:
Channel: BBC Two
Launch date: May 2016
Hosts: Chris Evans and Friends star Matt LeBlanc are the main names, with additional hosts including racing driver Sabine Schmitz, YouTube star Chris Harris, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan and motoring journalist Rory Reid.
- Top Gear will continue its penchant for filming ludicrously expensive set pieces all over the world. Speaking during an episode of Saturday Kitchen in November 2015, Evans confirmed: “We’re going to America to make our first inter-continental in January [and we’re] making another film next week.”
- Following on from the American theme, Evans and LeBlanc were spotted filming scenes for the new series in Reliant Robins decorated with the flags of their native countries, in what will apparently be a race to the Las Vegas of Britain: Blackpool.
- The Stig is back.
- Apparently the filming of the new series irritated George Osbourne.
- New host Chris Evans has reportedly struggled with the quite crucial job of simultaneously driving and talking to the camera (the BBC denied this).
- It was later reported that Evans suffered from car sickness, after he was spotted retching at the side of a track during filming.
- Just this week, the new Top Gear team were blasted for apparent disrespect towards war memorial the Cenotaph in London as they filmed drag racing in the area. In response to the backlash, Chris Evans has promised the footage will not appear in the show, which has consequently attracted criticism about wasted license fee money.
- The troubled Top Gear has also experienced problems with holding down their production team. Chris Evan’s personally selected executive producer, Lisa Clark, left the show in December amid reports that Evans was a control freak (the BBC denied this too). Script editor Tom Ford left shortly after. In January, BBC Two controller Kim Shillinglaw also stepped down from her role, which included ensuring the new show was up to scratch.
Jeremy Clarkson’s unnamed motoring show
Channel: Amazon Prime Video
Launch date: Unknown (likely Autumn 2016)
Hosts: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May
- The show has been commissioned for three series consisting of twelve episodes each, to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on a weekly basis. The video streaming giant reportedly lured Clarkson, Hammond, May and former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman with the promise of a colossal budget of £160m to produce the show. This works out at roughly £4.5m an episode. It will be filmed in ultra high resolution (4k).
- The series will be based in the UK, with Clarkson and co. being given more air time to discuss cars. However, the unnamed series will maintain the mix of international and local adventures and studio-based content. It is unsure whether segments such as “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” will be able to return, as these are owned by the BBC.
- Filming began in Autumn 2015, and the trio have been spotted all over the world filming. Clarkson, Hammond and May have been spotted in Barbados, and have also visited the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, racing supercars such as the Ferrari LaFerrari, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spyder.
- Two weeks ago, the team were spotted driving a specially fitted Mercedes with monster off-road wheels in the quaint English countryside:
- The trio have been given free reign from Amazon pretty much to do whatever they like, something that they never had from the BBC. Writing in his column in The Sun, Clarkson said: “To make what will be a seriously well-funded, British-based show with no commercial breaks and, better still, no editorial pressure from on high.”
- The new series will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, which costs users £79 a year (although that’s cheaper than the licence fee if you’re going VOD only). Episodes launch weekly, like Amazon’s Ripper Street, which will make it hard for users to sign up for the free trial only to watch all the episodes before cancelling.
- It might be hard to find fellow watchers to talk about episodes with. While Amazon announced earlier this year it boasts 54 million US subscribers (nearly half of all American users), the company has remained coy on their British figures. It has only confirmed that UK subscribers are in the millions.
Why we think Clarkson’s show will be the one to watch:
There’s no harm in a little rivalry between motoring shows, but the points above suggests that Jeremy Clarkson’s newest venture will probably be a cut above its beleaguered BBC Two counterpart. The unnamed Amazon show has the benefits of a colossal budget, increased creative control and a loyal audience; while the Chris Evans version has been hit with repeated reports of Evans’ incompetence, bad press and crucial production team losses. Importantly, more time has been spent working on the Amazon series – which has not been set to a tight BBC deadline.
However, while the as-yet-untitled new Amazon production may be shaping up to be the better show, that’s not to say BBC Two’s viewing figures won’t trump Amazon’s undisclosed user numbers.