Clarkson defined Top Gear, says Chris Harris

Current TG presenters Harris, Flintoff and McGuinness spoke about Clarkson during the promotional tour for the upcoming 29th season of Top Gear

32w ago

Please allow me to start with a personal opinion. When it comes to Top Gear, I feel most people, including the BBC, overestimated the format while underestimating the value of the presenters that created and made the format.

Having people travelling around the globe while mucking about with cars is always sort of entertaining to watch but Top Gear of old became iconic because of the chemistry between Jeremy, James and Richard. With the best will and the best budget in the world, you can't recreate it and you can't fake it.

Clarkson, Hammond and May left Top Gear in 2015, we all know what happened, and a plethora of different presenters have tried to recapture that vibe with mixed results. Chris Harris seems to stand out from the crowd, not least because he is the only presenter to have appeared in each Top Gear season of the post-Clarkson era.

Jeremy Clarkson was recently named the 'screen's greatest automotive icon of all time' in April and he re-invented Top Gear in 2002 alongside former Top Gear producer and current TGT producer Andy Wilman. In an interview with, current presenters Chris Harris, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness spoke about it at length and Harris said that Clarkson is "the man. He’s been doing it 30-40 years and he’s defined what this is all about. Fair play to him".

Harris, Flintoff and McGuinness say they're big fans of Jeremy, James and Richard even though they know that Clarkson said he'll never watch the show again. Harris added that "if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here because they worked their socks off to get Top Gear to where it is now".

In a different interview earlier this year, McGuinness said he'll never have a "bad word about them. I met Richard Hammond just after it got announced we got the show and he was really lovely; I’ve never met James and I’ve never met Jeremy".

I think Clarkson, Hammond and May changed the face of motoring journalism. They took a cool job that for some reason people ignored and considered boring and made it feel like something out of Hollywood. And they did it entirely with their personality, not because they were particularly easy on the eye or glittering, but again just because of the chemistry.

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Comments (67)

  • It's easy to brand Harris as a pretender pissing in the face of a monumental legacy, yet the way I see it, Harris himself has built his own reputation as a leading voice in automotive journalism, especially for a generation that has known ONLY Harris and other online scribes/presenters (from publications like Motor Trend, Jalopnik and EVO as well as channels like CarThrottle and Donut). We may lambaste the BBC for making a terrible mistake, but I wouldn't exactly blame the current presenting team (or even the past ones in the first season of the reboot) for its problems.

    I have no idea where the BBC has to take TG. But wherever it goes, they must play to the strengths of its presenters. Because that's what the BBC did best with Clarkson, Hammond and May.

      7 months ago
    • EDIT: isn't it weird that DT eats the bumps every time I edit? Awful thing.

        7 months ago
    • it doesn't. They temporarily disappear for you (=the person who posted the comment) but other people can still see them. I still see them. I think it's a minor bug

        7 months ago
  • Ive followed Chris Harris' career for a while now and aways felt he would be a good fit for the top gear format. He just needs 2 other presenters who he could vibe with. I don't feel McGuiness and Flintoff are those people.

      7 months ago
    • McGuiness and Flintoff add a comedy slant but it isn’t the same comedy that Clark Hammond and May created together

        7 months ago
    • Chris Harris and Guy Martin I think would be great

        7 months ago
  • In fairness, Top Gear is not terrible, it's not even half bad, to be honest. But it will never be what it was. Even the American Top Gear at the end was better. That's a bold claim, I know, but Adam Ferrara was their Clarkson (with bits of May) by all means and even though they never had the chemistry, it was still good to watch. I do watch Top Gear UK now, it's ok in my book, but it's an emulation of what used to be nevertheless.

      7 months ago
  • 2 reasons for which I'm still going to watch Top Gear:

    1. there is a huge void left by the lack of new 'The Grand Tour' episodes

    2. Chris Harris is a fantastic motorhead, nearly as fantastic as Clarkson, Hammond and May...nearly...

      7 months ago
  • No I will not watch. Chris Harris would be correct. Harris is no joke himself. But the show has become one. Harris should distance himself and start his own show. He is the talent.

    Clarkson et al or nothing.

      7 months ago