A sentence that I never thought I would write: Top Gear (BBC Two) made me cry. Then again, the show has confounded expectations. Plenty of fans thought that it couldn’t limp on without Jeremy Clarkson2020欧洲杯足球即时比分, Richard Hammond and James May; the frankly insane pairing of Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc appeared to prove them right.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分But the agreeably blokey combination of Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff has proved to be a winning one. The opening episode of this second series pulled in the highest ratings of the post-Clarkson era and earned the show a promotion to BBC One. Unlike Evans and LeBlanc, these three have chemistry and appear actually to like one another. Watching presenters who clearly enjoy what they’re doing turns out to be quite a pleasant way to spend an hour on a Sunday night.
Anyway, the bit that moved me to tears wasn’t the sight of a £120,000 BMW M8, even if it did have a 4.4 litre V8 engine and a top speed of 189mph. As McGuinness said, it’s a car destined to be “planted firmly in the outside lane of the motorway, six inches from your back bumper”. It was the tribute to Colin McRae, who won the World Rally Championship 25 years ago, and who died in a helicopter crash 12 years later at the age of 39.
McRae’s family still have his blue Subaru Impreza, and Harris had the privilege of driving it. His absolute joy at being behind the wheel of a car with so much history was genuinely moving. Back in the studio, his voice wobbled as he called it “the best thing I’ve ever done and ever will do”.
McGuinness may be the presenter who drives the repartee, possessed of good comic timing and able to command the studio bits (which were always the weakest link, even in the old days), but Harris has quietly become the star of the show. Last year he held back a bit in the presence of two big personalities, but now more than holds his own against Flintoff and McGuinness and has expertise to boot.
The show could do with a tweak before its BBC One unveiling. It would be no great loss if the celebrity slot was ditched: this week it was Tom Allen, a comedian who only passed his test two years ago and didn’t really like cars. We’re a long way from the days when Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz popped in. But otherwise the three presenters should keep doing what they’re doing. The show may lack the hint of danger it used to have – mostly what Clarkson might come out with – but this gentler, warmer Top Gear is no bad thing.