You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chris Evans’ new series of ‘Top Gear’ is set to be the most controversial programme to ever grace your TV, judging by the almost daily stories emerging about its supposedly 'troubled’ route to our living rooms. But why is everyone giving it such a thorough kicking before having seen even a second of the new series? Here are some of the possible reasons…
Chris Evans Is Telly Marmite
You either love Chris Evans or you hate him. There’s not much middle ground. And with as many fans as he has detractors, it’s meant that his appointment to host 'Top Gear’ following Jeremy Clarkson’s dismissal, was met with equal parts praise and derision. A similar thing happened to Evans in the 90s and 2000s, when he was scarcely out of the public eye with shows like 'Big Breakfast’, his Radio 1 breakfast show, 'TFI Friday’ and 'Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’ all running in quick succession. Some loved it, some, well, not so much.
Chris Evans Might Be A Bully
Feeding into the whole marmite business is the fact that Evans is being accused of bullying – exactly what Jeremy Clarkson was fired for, which makes for a bit of a perfect storm in terms of tabloid column inches. Evans’ ex-business partner John Revell has condemned him as a 'bully’ and a 'spoiled child’ who is currently 'out of control’ and that the BBC is too scared to reign him in, while other reports have claimed Evans reduced another employee to tears after screaming at her. Evans has denied all that, though.
People Are Still Upset About Clarkson
The fandom surrounding Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond’s tenure on the show was borderline fanatical, with popularity of the show at its peak when Clarkson got the boot. The BBC’s decision to terminate Clarkson’s contract last year – following a now infamous 'fracas’ with a series producer over a steak dinner – might have been popular with Clarkson’s many detractors, but massively unpopular with fans. Remember that petition with one million signatures demanding Clarkson be reinstating being delivered to the BBC by The Stig in a tank? That’s not necessarily normal behaviour.
Top Gear-Kicking Stories Get Traffic
The furore surrounding Clarkson’s departure last year also caused a media scrum for stories about the series rarely seen before around any TV show, ever, and a huge public appetite for the seemingly endless controversy, with new exclusives from ‘insiders’ popping up every day for weeks on end. And it appears that stories giving the new plans for Top Gear a good kicking have that same appeal. Add to this the sense of a strong fan feeling against the change, and all kinds of negative publicity surrounding the new series has bubbled to the surface as a result, some stories from so-called 'sources’ likely more accurate than others.
Some People Think The New Line-Up Is Too 'PC’
Some have objected to the so-called 'PC’ nature of the new line up, which includes technology journalist, Rory Reid, who is black, and a woman, in the form of German racing driver Sabine Schmitz (imagine!), alongside Formula One boss Eddie Jordan, YouTube star Chris Harris and The Stig. Despite the fact that it’s 2016, not 1916, it seems that this might be a radical step too far for some, who were more than happy with their three white, middle-aged hosts with questionable taste in hair, music and denim.
Is There Press Bias?
Top Gear is massive for the BBC. Massive. It’s worth millions in syndication, because it’s broadcast in over 100 countries. It was also a hit in the US (so it’s not coincidence one of the new hosts is an American household name). So at a time when the national broadcaster is seeming more vulnerable than ever, other media outlets are delighting in gunning for the show.
People Want Evans To Fail
Ultimately, because he’s a divisive talent, people will want to see Evans fall flat on his face. He said recently that perhaps Clarkson had 'got out of Top Gear at the right time’. “What have we been given? It’s either a golden nugget or a hospital pass. I’m waiting to find out which,” he added. As are we, Chris. As are we.
Are you excited, or nervous, about the new series of ‘Top Gear’, which starts on May 29? Let us know below…
Image credits: AP/Rex Features/BBC