EXCLUSIVE: The BBC has achieved one thing few may have predicted a few years in the past: it has revved new life into the faltering international model that was High Gear — and in doing so, proved that there’s sufficient room on the street for multiple massive automotive present.
The chemistry between new hosts Andrew Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness has turbocharged the present’s scores within the UK, which means final yr’s season crossed the end line with three.8M viewers, some 1.5M forward of the earlier Matt LeBlanc-fronted season. And the engine was nonetheless purring for the premiere of Season 28 final weekend.
This return to development prompted BBC Two controller Patrick Holland to watch that High Gear has shed its baggage, together with any lingering doubts about its viability with out the lads who made it a worldwide sensation: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James Could, and former showrunner Andy Wilman.
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However that’s to not say High Gear has Amazon’s The Grand Tour in its rear-view mirror. Lots of the BBC present’s crew had been round throughout the Clarkson years, together with government producer Alex Renton — and the 15-year High Gear veteran revealed that there are occasions when the 2 exhibits have crossed tracks behind the scenes.
The Grand Tour presenters
Renton stated the manufacturing groups typically discuss informally and phrase will get round when the exhibits are concentrating on the identical prize. For instance, High Gear was exploring making a movie in Azerbaijan, however rapidly deserted the thought after they discovered that The Grand Tour already had filming plans within the former Soviet nation. In one other case, each exhibits carried out a recce in Nepal. On this case, High Gear received the race, with the nation offering the backdrop to final yr’s Christmas particular.
“If we all know upfront they’re going someplace, we’d keep away from it as a result of it’s not what viewers need,” stated Clare Pizey, High Gear‘s different government producer. It additionally speaks to the mutual respect between the 2 exhibits.
Wilman has at all times insisted that he and Clarkson haven’t watched a minute of High Gear since leaving the BBC, primarily as a result of they don’t need to get requested about their outdated “child.” He advised Deadline final yr: “I believe we did one of the best one, so I’m proud of that. And I’ve bought a great deal of mates who work on it. I want them effectively, however I don’t have any want to look at it.”
Pizey and Renton echoed this sentiment. “I’ve watched the Mongolia episode [of The Grand Tour] and thought it was actually good — I actually like that one. I additionally noticed a number of the boats one [last year]. I want them very well,” stated Pizey, including: “There’s a lot room with all of the completely different platforms, it’s simply not a problem having two automotive exhibits.”
However in a mark of the swagger that’s again in High Gear, Pizey couldn’t resist one remaining comment. “I believe ours is best, however I’d, wouldn’t I?” she stated.