Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Top Gear just won't be the same without all my madcap men behaving badly

By Fionola Meredith

Top Gear is my guilty pleasure. It's idiotic, laddish, puerile - and I love it.

So does my teenage daughter, and there's nothing we like better than kicking back on the sofa for an hour of mindless fun.

I know we're not alone in this: Top Gear may be seen as a men's programme, but there are plenty of women who enjoy it too, perhaps for slightly different reasons.

We're less likely to be salivating over the supermodels, sorry, supercars, for a start. But there's just something intrinsically hilarious about seeing three middle-aged blokes careering around in fast cars, setting fire to caravans and squabbling pointlessly among themselves.

I can honestly say that the Friday night I spent watching the recent Clarkson, Hammond and May show at the Odyssey in Belfast - hastily renamed, of course, after Clarkson's "fracas" with his producer led to the end of his career at Top Gear - made me feel intensely and irrationally happy.

The car football, the handbrake turns, the flaming Porches: it was all so gloriously, deliriously stupid. Forget theatre and cinema and well-written fiction. Sometimes you just need to give your brain a rest, and these guys were the men for the job.

So I approach the news that Chris Evans is to be the new host of Top Gear with some trepidation. I know Evans is a car expert, but I don't really care about the cars. It's the cheerful idiocy that I want. And Evans is a man who often appears a little bit too pleased with himself.

He has a cheeky-chappie vibe that disturbs me. For all that Clarkson, and to a lesser extent his two wing-men, Hammond and May, could be loud-mouthed, crass and bombastic, they were also endearingly self-deprecating at times.

Yes, really. "We're old, and I'm fat, and we're all unemployed," said Clarkson ruefully at the Odyssey. It was actually a finely-balanced dynamic, and one that will be incredibly difficult for the BBC to recreate.

Who knows who Evans will bring in as his own sidekicks, but it's rumoured that a woman will be one of the team. Please no!

I want to see men behaving badly in time-honoured ways and taking the mickey out of each other mercilessly. I want stupid stunts and silly arguments. I want macho revving and camaraderie and man love.

It just wouldn't be the same with a lass among the lads.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph