After months of rumours, denials, various lists churned out by betting agencies and endless speculation, we finally have our new Top Gear presenter line-up. Chris Evans was announced as the new host last year, but it was only last week that the next presenter was confirmed: actor Matt LeBlanc. This came as a surprise as earlier reports had ‘confirmed’ veteran motoring journalist Chris Harris and ‘Ring queen Sabine Schmitz as Evans’ co-presenters, but both have now been officially announced as part of the cast, along with F1 team owner turned pundit Eddie Jordan and Rory Reid.
Speaking about the announcement on Topgear.com, Jordan - who was rumoured to be joining the cast last week - said “I have such enormous respect for all my fellow presenters and I politely ask that they go easy on these old bones.” Having been a pundit for the BBC’s F1 coverage since 2009 (the contract going to Channel 4 for 2016 no doubt freed up his schedule), the corporation is familiar territory for the former Jordan Grand Prix owner.
Schmitz has already been spotted filming with Evans during that infamous vomiting incident, and appeared on Top Gear numerous times during Clarkson Hammond and May’s reign. Now she’s on the programme full time, she said: “I grew up next to the Nürburgring and have been racing for most of my life…so the chance to combine both driving and filming was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Chris Harris arguably gives the show more credibility to petrolheads than any of the other presenters, and in a series of Tweets this morning said “Think I’ll remember today. Big thank you to everyone who helped me get this chance. And for the avoidance of doubt, @achrisevans is massive and I’m norma [sic] size. Honest.” On Topgear.com he said “if it all goes wrong, well, I can say I was once on Top Gear, and just head back to being that annoying small bloke off YouTube.”
Harris taking the job goes against what he told us in an interview last summer (skip to the 4min 35sec mark in the video above), seemingly before the offer had been made. He said: “No, I’ve not been offered Top Gear. I think you’d need to be paid a lot of money in the first year, because I’m not sure you’d be employable in the second and third years.” Clearly he’s been convinced otherwise since…
Reid is the least known of the crew, and is the only one who came through the show’s open auditions. His appointment would be more of a surprise, had a few eagle-eyed people not spotted him in a Tweet from Chris Evans a few days ago. Formerly of YouTube channel Fast, Furious and Funny and more recently Recombu Cars, Reid said: “To be the only person to make it through the open audition process makes me immensely proud. I’ve been a Top Gear fan for decades, but more than that, I live and breathe cars in a way that is perfectly compatible with the show.” We’ve featured some of Reid’s work on Car Throttle before (see above for his brilliant alternative Rolls Royce Ghost review), and reckon the TG appointment is pretty damn well deserved.
What we don’t know just yet is how all of the presenters will work together. It has been previously reported that the show will work in a pyramid structure with Evans at the top and the likes of Sabine, Harris et al further down the order as semi-regulars, but we’ll have to wait and see exactly how it’s all going to fit together.