Thursday, 24 December 2015

The new Top Gear presenters - why you're not one of them

AT LEAST one of my fellow motoring scribes has found out the hard way. That - perhaps rather predictably - they haven't got the job of being a Top Gear presenter.

I bet I wasn't the only one unsurprised by reports late last night that Chris Evans has signed up three already high profile petrolheads to join him on next year's revival of the world's most watched car show. David Coulthard will be instantly familiar to anyone who knows even the faintest amount about F1. Sabine Schmitz has appeared on Top Gear twice already - including the brilliant piece about lapping the Nürburgring in a Transit van - and Chris Harris is already a petrolhead phenomenom, having translated his success at evo, Autocar and Jalopnik into more than a million YouTube channel subscribers. 

Yet they've already been dismissed by the tabloids as complete 'unknowns'. Largely because, I suspect, Chris Evans didn't follow their never-ending predictions of Jodie Kidd and Philip Glenister being given the gigs. Personally, I reckon it'll have a shaky start but providing the Daily Mail doesn't strangle it at birth it'll evolve into some great petrolhead telly - three people who know their onions when it comes to cars and know how to look natural in front of a camera, led by the classic car collector who gave the world TFI Friday. It deserves to be a good show.

It's just a shame about the thing that had us all on tenterhooks - the audition process itself.

Back in June - following the rather dramatic dismantling of the old show - the Beeb announced they were looking for presenters to join CarFest organiser Chris on the 2016 series. 

'It could be you', Top Gear said in a post on its website. 'It really could'.

All you needed to be was over 17 and able to ramble on about cars, and apparently the auctions were 'not just for famous people, ex-famous people, up-and-coming famous people, but for people who are watching the show.' Yet by casting three people already famous to the petrolhead world, it's hard to believe anyone sat there at home really had a fighting chance.

Which is exactly why - despite spending my childhood wanting bad jeans, frizzy hair and a gift for a great metaphor far more than a spacesuit - I didn't send in my 30 seconds of fame to Chris' colleagues. I feel bad for the people I know in motoring journalism who did, but worse for all those 18-year-old Top Gear addicts who sent in their clips, thinking that maybe, just maybe, they'd get that phone call.

Don't get me wrong - all three presenters sound like superb choices, and the last thing I'd have wanted Chris to do was go even further down the 'it could be you' route by turning the audition into an automotive version of The X Factor.

I just wish they'd put the job ads up on LinkedIn or something. Telling the world's car fans it could have been them - when clearly it wouldn't - wasn't really on.

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