Across and over the line

This could be my most right-on post yet, and what I’m about to say may not be particularly original but there is a large part of society which will agree with me.

The trolling of Sue Perkins on Twitter over her link to the vacant host position on Top Gear is not only disgraceful, but it shows a poor representation of the show’s viewers. I can recall when Top Gear was a motoring programme produced by the BBC to fill a niche for enthusiasts. In the past ten years it’s brand changed to be about its presenters and their antics. The cars should have been annoyed, apart from a review of a new model that was tested by The Stig, most of the show was essentially Lad TV that anyone could enjoy.

Was it bad? No it was funny and it attracted a great calibre of guests and kept the cynical views of the hosts at its heart. Jeremy Clarkson was a great host as it goes, he followed the Jeremy Paxman model of doing what he thought was right and persisting until he was told otherwise (maybe that is what caused the downward spiral?) and kept together a show that developed a strong identity of 40 something men in denim enjoying themselves.

His departure and potential replacement has caused plenty of discussion and as I said at the top, bad headlines causing the comedian, writer and host to suspend her social networking activities due to death threats.

There is so much wrong with this it could take another 500 words to complete, but I suspect I am not alone in thinking that Sue Perkins and James May would be an excellent pairing for the next version of Top Gear. If it ends up being Chris Evans or Dermot O’Leary then it will show a lack of ambition at the BBC as they are doing a like for like replacement for Clarkson.

What the opportunity here presents is for a new direction, perhaps even back to the essence of motoring journalism. James May has proved himself to be an excellent pundit in his guise as “Captain Slow”, but I’d rather watch him than Bear Grylls talk about piston wear as I know he will know what he is talking about.

As for the host, a wise cracking, no shit taking female would be perfect, and as Suzy Perry has proved on the BBC’s coverage of F1 and Jacqui Oatley will hopefully demonstrate as ITV’s new football anchor, the right person in the right job can be a winning combination.

Time will tell if Sue Perkins is right for Top Gear, although I now fear that she will turn the opportunity down because of the death threats, and it will be up to the BBC to prove the haters wrong.


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