News that Paddy McGuinness and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff being cast in the roles of Clarkson and Hammond (I assume May will be portrayed by someone who at least knows something about cars, Chris Harris), is akin to switching on morning TV and being confronted with the banality express of Schofield and Willy-boobies. Seriously, I despair.
First Chris Evans (that’s the carrot-haired mouthpiece connected to a school bully-magnetising body of the ex-radio DJ, for our American listeners, and NOT the Hollywood actor who might have played a superhero) was sent to try our patience. Then came – someone my American viewers will recognise as – Joey from Friends. Who turned out to be nobody’s real friend, but just a lumbering irritant who stood in that awkward hunched-over position a 'stedhead' normally adopts when they’re overdone things on the lats machine so much that they can’t relax their arms by their sides properly.
Yet despite this, both Evans and Tribbiani were actually ‘car people’. Fuckannoying car people, but car people nevertheless.
Ladz Will BeeBC Ladz....
But now, because the broadcasting dinosaur that is the BBC assume that anyone who watches Top Gear (or any programme that pertains to be of a broad motoring interest), must be a bit of a lad; they’ve invited the lads’ lads to front the re-booted show from next year. They’ve probably had a marketing brainstorming sesh to prove it (that TG = ladsfest), and/or blood-tested anyone in the UK christened Kev or Baz to justify their wild claims.
I can picture it now. The new-look studio's Bantz-O-Meter exploding barely 10 minutes into the opening episode where Pads and Flints are at the helm. I mean, seriously. We’re talking about a bloke who wanders around Bolton Tesco like a God and a geezer who is known by his nickname rather than his actual name. Although in fairness, I can think of a few names by which I’ve referred to ‘Freddie’ in the past.
OK, I originally voiced my concerns when Harris and Rory Reid were parachuted into the Evans (then LeBlanc) years, as some form of straight men to the aforementioned duo’s apparent raconteur-isms and rapier-like wit. However it wasn’t long before I was convinced that Auntie Beeb had in fact played a blinder and employed two people who – while never going to set my screen on fire – were more than capable, personable and, well, not gigantic bellends. But more than that; certainly not ladzzzz.
Cee Boobies. Probably....
All I can see before me now is a paint-by-numbers TG, where supposed humour and an ‘enduring’ bromance will be the lowest common presentational denominators; in what will essentially be a glorified Men and Motors channel show projected onto a slightly larger screen.
But what’s this I hear a chorus cry?! Why being resolute and northern professionals, surely I would concur that this is a positive step at putting Bolton and Preston firmly on the motoring map. Not least because geographically-speaking both are kinda equidistant to where once TVR reigned supreme. Arguably the most laddish manufacturer of the past 30 years, so therefore probably quite apt. But no. Irrespective of their northern nationalities, I’d far rather have seen a fellow northerner called in to rescue the show. Someone who doesn’t (I hope not, any road) urinate against ATMs or be besties with equally cloying fellow charm-repellents, Jack fucking Whitehall, Jamie Redknapp and Smithy from 'Gavin and Stacey'.
Yes, a controversial choice, but I, personally, would have plumped for pudding maestro (and someone who my American contingent WILL instantly recognise on account of his surname), Paul Birkenhead! No, sorry, Hollywood. If you ever saw his mini-series’ about cars which were closely associated with the culture of European countries (Big Continental Road Trips) and his homage-paying broadcast about Aston Martins (License to Thrill), then you’ll nod sagely with reverence to what I’m talking about.
Give Me Hollywood Any Day! Paul from Birkenhead. Not Actual Glamour...
Child-like enthusiasm, deep subject knowledge and an ease in front of the camera, made Hollyspud’s debut in this motoring context surprisingly welcome in my household of one. Yes, yes, he exchanged his wife for a younger model, and yes, yes, he’s got a reputation for being a bit of a ladies’ man, etc, etc. But if there’s one thing he’s not, then that’s a ruddy, bloody bloke. Although he is when it counts (chatting chuff about track rod ends and pistons and shit), yet in a polar opposite man lair/vortex to the intellect-vacuum likes of Pads and Flints.
Of course, there was one big problem which would have stood in the way of Hollyspud’s TG stock rising faster than his dough in the company of a barmaid, and that’s his decision to fuck the BBC off and take his Great British Fondle Off to Channel 4. A lot of offing, in retrospect. Who then retaliated by not recommissioning a second series of the aforementioned Big Continental Road Trip. Boo, hiss, etc. But that’s the BBC through and through. (Allegedly) Turning a blind eye to institutionalised paedophilia throughout the 70s and 80s, yet chastise both Hollyspud – and Clarkson before him – when someone does something they really don’t like.
But then it’s the TV license payer who is seemingly punished, courtesy of the announcement of the broadcasting behemoths that are Pads and Flints coming to a TV screen near you in 2019. Thank fuck for the Grand Tour and Amazon Prime and repeats of proper TG on Dave, that’s all I’m saying on the subject. Excluding the bit above.