New Top Gear’s Matt LeBlanc did an interview with Vulture and shared a bit more detail about the show’s structure and his thoughts about people’s expectations of the show. We are just days away from the return of the show, and if the internet is any gauge for success, many plan on boycotting the show out of respect for the old Top Gear Trio, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. According to LeBlanc, he had this to say to fans of the old Top Gear:
I would say, is it the same Top Gear? No. Those guys are gone. We’re here now, and we’re going to do the best job we can. We’re not them, they’re not us. Will it be better? Will it be worst? It’ll be different, but it’ll still have that same feel, it’ll still have elements of the old show present. But if you only want to watch “Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson,” then it’s probably not for you. That question almost answers itself in that sense. I’m not him, he’s not me. From what I’ve seen so far, the show’s working. It’s entertaining. If you want to be entertained with a car show, I think it’s a good show. (But) it’s not Chris and I doing Jeremy Clarkson impressions.
There wasn’t that much to fix. We decided that what would be different, without giving too much away, was that we’re going to have two celebrities per episode to create a competition element. It was done in the past, and it was always a fun aspect to watch. We’re changing the track a bit to make it a little more exciting and dramatic and more fun to drive. I’m actually going to test it out again later this week, do a couple of laps on the track. The general consensus of what to definitely keep on the show were the films. We’re doing more films and bigger films with more scope in them. We have more presenters, so it has a bigger feel in general.
For instance, we have Eddie Jordan, who has a huge Formula 1 background. When Eddie talks about a car’s performance, that guy knows what he’s talking about. Chris Harris has his own YouTube channel, “Chris Harris on Cars,” where he tests all types of exotic cars all over the world. He’s a great driver. Sabine Schmitz — she’s from Germany and drove this vehicle called the Ring Taxi, and she’s the first woman to ever win an endurance race. She can drive the hell out of a car. And then we have Rory Reid. People submitted tapes and he won an internet submission contest. He’s going to be joining us doing something called Extra Gear. It’ll be online content and aired after Top Gear airs, behind-the-scenes stuff to give you a little more. Previously they had a news segment, and that will be in the Extra Gear section. For the most part we’ll still be in the studio, we’ll still be doing interviews, the sets are the same, we’re sitting in the same chairs. It’ll feel like a new coat of paint on the same show, hopefully.
The two celebrities per episode may produce interesting dynamic in the usually boring interviews. We’ll have to see how this unfolds in the first episode as Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsey and The Social Network and Batman V Superman’s Jesse Eisenberg make an appearance. The rebooted show’s emphasis on the films is also refreshing news as those clips were usually the best part.
That’s the part that feels so much more than just the cars. That’s the travel aspect of the show, that’s the “exploring different cultures” aspect. We want people to ask themselves, “What road are they driving on? Where is that? We’re going on vacation there next year, maybe we can stay an extra day and drive on that road.” That element of the show enables you to travel the world from your couch at home. For me, personally, for my involvement, I like the making of the films more than the studio portion.
As for the events that led up to making LeBlanc a Top Gear host, he has had a passion for motorsports ever since he was a kid, starting with motorcycles and eventually into cars. And back in 2012 he broke the track record in the “Star In The Reasonably Priced Car” segment.
They asked me last year to host this thing called Top Gear: The Races,which I did, and that was really fun. After that, there was the big shake-up with the presenters — with Jeremy, James, and Richard — and then Chris Evans came on board, and then they approached me with the offer of hosting it. It never crossed my mind prior to that. My only thought about going back to Top Gear was, how could I get back on and drive around the track again and see if I can beat my record?
I was approached by the producers of Top Gear. We had a meeting; [producer] Alex Renton came to Los Angeles and we sat down and talked about it. All of the people involved in the show on the production end of it are motorheads, too, it’s not just the hosts. They all know their stuff about cars. It’s a very interesting world.
Whether you’re going to watch the new Top Gear or boycott it, you can’t deny the hosts’ tenacity while facing harsh criticism. Ever since the questionable stunt in front of the Cenotaph or the reports of Chris Evans being a bully, the show has had low expectations as it faces the The Grand Tour behemoth on Amazon Prime. The crew at Shifting Lanes will certainly watch the show and report back on our thoughts. Where do you stand on this issue? Will you watch it?