Andy Wilman, Top Gear’s executive producer has published a refreshingly candid blog as the current series nears its conclusion. He says that he will “be glad to see the back of it” after an intense 3 month period of filming and production that has left them “too rushed and too knackered to get everything right.”
I must admit that I’m no longer an avid viewer of the series, partly because I’m a petrol-head and Top Gear has become more of an entertainment show these days, but also because the show seems more about the presenters than the cars.
Wilman goes on to say “from what I can work out, the main complaints are that there’s too much cocking about for the car lovers, and that we’re trying too hard on camera.” But he says that although he understands the complaints, that doesn’t mean they’re going to do anything about them. This has less to do with any arrogance, but more because he believes they have to make the programme they want to make.
He admits that the personalities have become too formulaic, saying that “…I do believe we’ve now got the presenters playing to their TV cartoon characters a bit too much – Jezza the walking nuclear bomb, Richard the daft Norman Wisdom, and James the bumbling professor. I like those characters, but I too would like to see more of them.”
There have been rumours of late that Top Gear may be one of the victims of the BBC’s enforced budget cuts and Wilman does little to discourage such suggestions, “It’s fair to say this incarnation of Top Gear is nearer the end than the beginning, and our job is to land this plane with its dignity still intact” he says.
For what it’s worth, whilst the formula may have lost its way recently, the series still has three of the best presenters currently on TV. I was fortunate to spend some time with Clarkson on photo-shoots during the early 1990s (before he became famous) and gained a healthy respect for his talents, something that he has clearly not lost.
But maybe a rethink is in order for Series 15 – less clowning, more banter and lots more cars. I’m sure it’s possible and perhaps a little less funding for the show might encourage them to focus on what they do best, the specials such as Bonneville Flats.
Anyway, kudos to Andy Wilman for being so open and honest – his blog is well worth a read and could just be a sign of better things to come.
Top Gear Series 14: where we’re at