Sarah Barnett, head of BBC America, has the massive task of bringing the UK’s biggest and best shows over to the States, something I’m more than grateful for. My two favorite shows of all time (Doctor Who and Top Gear) can be seen from my living room simply because of the existence of BBC America. With the dramatic shift in Top Gear’s cast last year, Barnett had to watch as ratings dropped throughout Series 23, which signaled a quick departure for host Chris Evans.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Barnett talks about why she felt the Top Gear Series 23 refresh stumbled. Her point is something that I think we all agree with; Jeremy, James, and Richard essentially built that audience and had worked together for so long that they were basically a well oiled machine.
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Perhaps they got a bit too comfortable towards the end, but for the most part, every new series of Top Gear in the past was like revisiting old friends. We all knew what to expect, and it was familiar and nonthreatening. And of course, if the existence of the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t deal well with change, especially when fan favorites are replaced.
Barnett’s thoughts on Top Gear:
“The previous team [Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May] really built the audience, and it’s in a period of reinvention. Things don’t happen overnight. I think that the [new] presenters — Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reed, Chris Harris — are really talented and developing their chemistry. But it’s tough when you have that level of scrutiny that the show had last season. Nothing can withstand that.”
Things absolutely do not happen overnight, which showed because Series 23 had some serious growing pains (and that’s being diplomatic compare to some comments I have seen online). Barnett also brings up another great point; Series 23 was so heavily scrutinized that it was destined to fail, regardless of how bad or good it could have been.
It will be interesting to see what Series 24 has in store for us with a tighter, more cohesive presenting group!