A more refined vehicle: Chris Evans has a chance to take Top Gear back to its roots


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The Independent Online

Jeremy Clarkson, it is reported, wishes Chris Evans, his chum and successor as principal Top Gear presenter, well in his new job. So must we all, as the show is a top British cultural (if that’s not too strong a term) export and a national institution. Albeit flawed.

We all know what was wrong with it, what with its increasingly boorish style of boyish humour and borderline racism (like fitting a car with a toilet for their Indian special and other gratuitously offensive stunts). It all culminated in Mr Clarkson’s stupid assault on one of his producers, an act that the BBC rightly decided was the final straw. 

Now we are promised a more diverse line-up of presenters, and the assurance that, at last, one of them will be female. It is a long time since Top Gear had a woman anywhere near the driving seat, and that was not for want of talented female motoring journalists, who are a distinguished cadre, as they would have to be in such a male-dominated environment. An all-women presenting line-up would have been novel and could have worked well, but that perhaps would be hoping for too much in the way of reform.

As for the show, it has long since lost much of its consumerist rationale – what might be called the “will-it-fit-in-your-garage?” school of covering cars, and that is a pity. For what is for many the second-most important purchase after their home, there is a dearth of sensible advice, at least on TV, about the practical side of running a vehicle, and its impact on the environment, which usually does not involve a race across Africa, renovating a Porsche 911 or blowing up a caravan.

Mr Evans is obviously an accomplished broadcaster and a collector of fine old classic cars, and has a particular penchant for Ferraris. We shall soon find out whether he knows the difference between torque and talk.