Top Gear debuts on BBC One but viewers aren’t sure about the new model

The classic motoring show has been through many changes but some fans aren't happy with the latest version.

Top Gear presenters Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff in front of series 29's drive-in audience

Top Gear returned retuned, with the presenting line-up of Paddy McGuinness, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and Chris Harris, to a mixed reception from viewers, as the show screened on BBC One for the first time.

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Some viewers complained that the Top Gear trio’s behaviour was infantile, while others welcomed it back with open arms.

“Howling at the karaoke ! Brilliant start to the new series,” tweeted one fan, in response to their musical interlude at a service station in Bolton, while they were competing in a 24-hour company car test.

Her view was not universally shared. Many complained that the producers must have told the presenters to “turn up the stupid”.

Another complained: “I was really looking forward to TG but the stupid childish behaviour is just beyond words.”

To be fair, Top Gear featured an extended riff in which Flintoff wet himself while competing in the 24-hour challenge, then gave viewers a full display of his backside as he clambered out of a car window.

While much of the episode was filmed before the COVID-19 lockdown, the presenters’ inserts, normally filmed in a hangar, were shot outside with a drive-in audience, a move that found approval with many viewers.

“Top Gear works brilliantly with an outdoor set, please never return back to a studio again!” posted one fan.

Another Tweeted: “What a good idea a drive in how cool is that, love it.”

Social media did feature support for the new presenters and format, despite the criticisms.

It was the 29th season of Top Gear, a show made famous on BBC Two by the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, who decamped to Amazon to make a rival, The Grand Tour, in 2015. Top Gear was subsequently co-presented by Chris Evans and Friends star Matt LeBlanc for a season in 2016, then followed by LeBlanc as solo host in 2017-18, before the current trio took over.

One fan said it was “brilliant” and belonged on BBC One.

Top Gear will return to BBC One with the second episode of the five-part season on Sunday 11th October.

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