By Thomas Godfrey
Top Gear has confirmed former England cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and “Take Me Out” host Paddy McGuinness will replace Matt LeBlanc for the 27th series of “Top Gear”.
Reaction among fans has been notably muted, with many pointing out that neither of them are particularly known as petrolheads, with others pointing out that the BBC has seemingly made no effort to lose the show of its laddish image.
Paddy Power has offered 10/1 odds on the show being cancelled by the end of 2020 and 14/1 that Flintoff and McGuinness’ debut season will be Top Gear’s last.
With all eyes on the new presenting duo, here are six occasions a change in presenter didn’t go down with those watching.
1. The Generation Game (2018)
When the BBC announced in April this year that former Bake Off hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins would host a revived version of the beloved family gameshow, many had high hopes it would hit the heights of the Larry Grayson and Bruce Forsyth versions.
Amid much fanfare (and an all-singing, all-dancing BBC budget of £1.5m), the reboot saw four families compete in tasks such as Cake Decorating, Balloon Modelling and performing a Tango with professional dancers.
The result? A combination of cringe-inducing jokes, stale puns and lack of enthusiasm meant the show was panned by critics; lost more than a third of its 6.1 million million viewers in a week; and was cancelled having only run two of the four filmed episodes.
One fan took to Twitter to tell the duo that “Bruce would be turning in his grave”.
The Generation Game, it seems, belongs well and truly in the past.
2. Top Gear (2015)
This isn’t the first time Top Gear bosses have had to apply a new lick of paint to the show.
In 2015, the BBC replaced the motoring juggernauts that are Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May with Radio 2’s Chris Evans, Joey from Friends and journalist Rory Reid.
The show started strongly, with 6.42 million viewers tuning in for episode one. But it couldn’t keep up with its early pace and the new format slumped to 2.64 million viewers by the end of the first series, failing to carry 59% of its opening day audience to the end of the series.
The polarising (to put it politely) Evans was cited by many as the biggest spanner in the works and he left the show – by ‘mutual consent’ – after just one series.
Reid survives as the host of Extra Gear.
3. Takeshi’s Castle (2017)
Heralded as the “gold standard” of zany, physical game shows, ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ achieved cult status in the early 2000s with Craig Charles on voiceover duties.
The reboot in 2017 brought a new narrator in Jonathan Ross, who was described by Comedy Central as
However, the oddly unenthusiastic commentary combined with toned down challenges meant viewers simply did not care any more.
Up against competition from its own rip-offs – such as ITV’s Ninja Warrior and Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster – the show had lost its genre-pushing qualities and instead looked dated and tame.
Its return is yet to be confirmed for 2018.
4. Gladiators (2008)
When Sky tried to revive Gladiators, they were no doubt hoping to launch a new era of lyrca-clad gym bunnies into millions of living rooms on a Saturday evening.
The show, which was a runaway success in the 1990s with Ulrika Jonsson and John “Awooga!” Fashanu, returned with Ian Wright and Kirsty Gallagher presenting.
Gallagher was a total pro; Wright was… less so.
His lack of hosting was telling from the start and his continual shouting alienated viewers.
Just 1.5 million viewers tuned in for the first episode and 400,000 had tuned out by the following weekend.
Gallagher quit after one year to be replaced by Love Island’s Caroline Flack, but the show had already been given the thumbs down and after two seasons Sky called it a day.
5. Catchphrase (2000)
When Nick Weir replaced TV legend Roy Walker in 2000, the question on everyone’s lips was ‘Nick Who?’
Replacing Walker, who had retired the year before, was always likely to be a poisoned chalice – especially for an unknown making his first venture into primetime.
As the cameras rolled for episode one and Weir’s big moment, the presenter promptly tripped down the stairs and broke his foot.
As portents go, this one was pretty accurate. The show limped on for three more years before Weir was replaced by Blue Peter’s Mark Curry, who himself lasted just one series.
A reboot in 2013 – under the watchful eye of Stephen Mulhern – has fared much better and remains on our screens.
6. Daybreak (2010)
ITV’s long-awaited new morning show “Daybreak” launched in late 2010 with former “The One Show” hosts Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley making a big-money move from the BBC as they fronted the replacement for GMTV.
The first instalment included an interview with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, news reports and views of regional locations around the UK.
But the lack of ‘light entertainment’ – plus Chiles’ world-weary dreariness – proved a turn-off.
Viewers didn’t quite know what they were meant to be watching with one reviewer calling it an “odd mashup of GMTV, The One Show, That’s Life and, suddenly, Newsnight”.
Chiles, not known for his comedic timing, suddenly found himself in an arena where laughter was meant to be commonplace. Despite his best efforts, the host ended up delivering lines like “I’m going to walk across the studio in 11 steps” while awkwardly walking over to the sports presenter.
The pair were axed in late 2011, with the show itself getting the boot in 2014 when it was replaced by the more successful Good Morning Britain.