Entertainment & Arts

Top Gear: Reviews round-up

Matt LeBlanc Image copyright PA
Image caption New Top Gear presenter Matt LeBlanc has previously described the show as an "international juggernaut"

Motoring show Top Gear returned to BBC Two on Sunday with its new line-up of hosts.

The relaunch featured Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc driving Reliant three-wheelers from London to Blackpool and actor Jesse Eisenberg and chef Gordon Ramsay tackling the Top Gear track.

The new hosts were signed up after the old team left following an infamous fracas between lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a producer.

So what did the TV critics make of the show's first outing?

The Guardian - Sam Wollaston

"It's not a disaster. It's polished, the stunts (so many of them!) are fun, the tweaks are improvements. But it is a shame there wasn't more in the way of refreshing the show itself. It's just new people doing same old same old.

"The rest of the new cast we haven't seen enough - or any - of yet. Matt LeBlanc should carry on being Matt LeBlanc, he's quite good at it. Chris Evans needs to relax and stop trying to be Jeremy Clarkson. Both are very eager to show off their car nerd credentials, presumably to fend off some of the mob vitriol."

Read the full review.

The Daily Telegraph - Gerard O'Donovan

"Indoors, the studio sequences were lively, if also slavish to the old style. There was no sign of the reported lack of chemistry between Evans and LeBlanc, and while the former worked the crowd like the polished media pro he is, the Friends star added some much needed sardonic grunt, instantly justifying his choice as co-host. It's a partnership that should improve with time."

Read the full review.

The Independent - Sean O'Grady

"It is all pointless, hackneyed and tired. Yes, I realise that is like Top Gear always has been, but what spark of originality there once was is now missing. They don't seem to be having as much fun playing with cars, this new lot.

"Before Jeremy Clarkson decided to thump a producer, some of the Top Gear production team had hinted that the show might be in need of a refresh, just as Clarkson and producer Andy Wilman revived it when they revolutionised it back in 2002. Well, the old show certainly got that. But rather like a car maker's bungled relaunch of a fading model line, it's all just a bit embarrassing."

Read the full review.

Daily Mail - Quentin Letts

"There was some swearing but it did not compensate for the absence of political correctness which always made Top Gear such salty fun.

"LeBlanc did a decent one-man film testing the Nomad off-roader in the north African desert. I kept thinking what a good guest he would have made for Jeremy and Richard and James in the old show.

"But his camaraderie with Evans felt forced. 'That was a lot of fun,' growled LeBlanc as last night's episode ended.

"It was reasonably entertaining. But it has lost its spark of genius. It all felt a little middle-lane and underwhelming, really. Gaskets remained unblown. Pass the jump leads someone."

Read the full review.

The Times - Andrew Billen

"It deserves to prosper because boys need shows about cars, and Evans and LeBlanc pummelled the patient's chest vigorously. It not only sat up in bed but sprinted round the rescue ward. It just didn't look right.

"Would we buy a used car from this man? On this debut, only after some serious tweaking. And when it comes to the invitations to his celebrity friends, such as Gordon Ramsay and Jesse Eisenberg, Evans needs to take his foot off the gas.

Read the full review (subscription required).

The Sun - Ally Ross

"How you doin'? Not too well, seeing as you ask.

"I'm watching two middle-aged men, with a distinct lack of chemistry, race Land Rovers on Blackpool beach.

"The American one clearly wishes he was somewhere else, while the British bloke keeps shouting: 'How great was that?'

"We have seen all this stuff done before and done better.

"So it just feels a bit like David Moyes at Man United, and he's got a slightly morose version of Joey from Friends as his assistant."

Read the full review.

The Daily Mirror - Ian Hyland

"If this opening episode was anything to go by, lowly TV producers should probably give Jeremy Clarkson a wide berth for the next few days.

"He might not be in a punching mood but he will surely be feeling a little more grizzly than usual.

"Of course he will have enjoyed his loyal fans coming to his rescue and giving Evans an absolute pasting on social media, but Clarkson has been around the track enough times to know that even though this reboot seemed a little over eager at times, it was anything but a disaster.

"If the BBC's plan was to bring Top Gear out of the caves and into the modern world - while still retaining the original spirit of the show - even the most fervent Evans hater would have to admit it burned rubber more times than it crashed and burned."

Read the full review.

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