Top Gear got a complete overhaul last year, following the departure of longtime hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. But there’s since been another well-publicised shake-up for the motoring show, with main host Chris Evans gone, and his former sidekick Matt LeBlanc teaming up with occasional presenters Rory Reid and Chris Harris to form a new central hosting trio – and they say that there’s a more open and equal feeling to the new set-up.
“You’ve obviously got a different dynamic between the presenters,” Harris tells RadioTimes.com – a sentiment co-host Reid agrees with.
“Last season, it felt very much to me like it was Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc as the core team, and they would pull in the ancillary presenters as and when they were needed, and then they’d step in and step out,” Reid says.
“But for this, it feels very much like the core team have an equal voice, and equal opinions about cars. Not that they didn’t in the past, but I think the situations we find ourselves in, in each of these films that we do, allow us to express our opinion on cars, more openly and bounce off each other a little bit more.”
Friends star Matt LeBlanc goes into even more depth about the new show, telling RadioTimes.com and other press on the Top Gear set that things feel more “collaborative” with the revamped line-up.
“Producers Alex [Renton] and Clare [Pizey] are now in charge and they’re very collaborative personalities so it really feels like ideas are welcome, things are discussed a little more openly than it felt like they were last year I would say,” he reveals.
“Al and Clare hatch all of the ideas and when we have ideas and we pitch things and if it passes the top brass it gets in. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
“We have a great team with Al and Clare and the writing staff and these two guys. It all gets thrown into the mix.”
Rory Reid, Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris
Clarkson and co are notorious for the controversial jokes they've made over the years at the expense of foreigners but LeBlanc seems to suggest that the new series will have a lighter feel in general, and that trips abroad will see the hosts engaging more with the locals rather than pointing and laughing.
“It’s a great job,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun, it really is.
“And it’s more than just driving fun cars – you get to experience cultures around the world, we get to work with a great team of people, you get to learn about the auto industry – there’s a lot to it and it’s really fun.”
Sounds like things really are shifting gear for the new series...
Top Gear returns to BBC2 at 8:00pm on Sunday 5th March