Top Gear hosts shrug off Grand Tour rivalry: “It’s great that we have two car shows on TV”

Chris Harris, Rory Reid and Matt LeBlanc are avoiding comparisons with the former Top Gear team's new series

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Top Gear returns to BBC2 tonight, but it’s coming back into a rather different world than the one it occupied for last year’s series. 

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You see, since those episodes aired erstwhile Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have debuted their own new car show The Grand Tour, and so the returning BBC stalwart (this time boasting ANOTHER host shake-up after the departure of Chris Evans) has to now both live up to past glories and the rival programme. Tough going, right?

Well, maybe not – because recently, RadioTimes.com got the chance to catch up with the Top Gear presenters themselves (Matt LeBlanc with newly-promoted regulars Chris Harris and Rory Reid), and found that the new three amigos aren’t really that bothered about their glitzy Amazon Prime rival. Or so they claim… 

“I watched some of the Grand Tour, because I’ve been travelling so much,” Harris told us. “I just think it’s them at their best. They are the masters of what they do, they really are. I’ve got nothing but respect for them. I’ve followed them, and I will continue to do so.”

“I’ve watched the whole series, and on the whole I liked it,” added Reid. “I think it was great to see those guys back on screen after their break. And I think their creativity is as impressive as always.

“I think it’s great that we have two car shows on TV. It’s gonna be fantastic for the viewer.”

Speaking on set LeBlanc was also positive, if a bit less effusive.

“I’ve seen some bits of it,” he said. “It is what it is…it’s those guys. They’re great.”

Still, when asked about differences between Top Gear and The Grand Tour the crew opened up a little more, sharing their vision of the new version of the series.

“The idea for any films always starts with the car. Now what’s a cool thing to put the car in?” LeBlanc said.

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Rory Reid, Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris

“Everything we do begins with the automobile,” agreed Harris. “Regardless of whether it’s old, new, weird, strange, obvious. We start with the car.

“I think that that makes us slightly different and perhaps gives us clarity of ideas sometimes which is easier to work with because we know what we’re doing. We’re not going out to make a comedy show. We’re not going out to try and subvert everything and turn it into satire, so that’s great.

He concluded: “The car is the thing, and then if you apply all of their knowhow, all of the skills of the cameramen, the writing skills and then this beautiful filmmaking ability to the car, it’s wonderful. Excuse the pun, the car is the perfect vehicle for making films.” 

We’re sure Clarkson, Hammond and May would agree – just in a slightly more “blowing things up” sort of way. 

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Top Gear airs on BBC2 on Sundays at 8.00pm