You can call him what you want but Chris Evans is nothing if not a petrolhead. Yes, he may be overly vocal (in the volume department) and generally the human embodiment of the so-called Marmite Effect, but none of this belies what’s otherwise a well-documented passion for all things motoring. Yet people seem intrinsically unable (or perhaps, unwilling) to look beyond his shouty persona (and insistence of wearing the same items from his admittedly limited televisual wardrobe – *please also see the recent reboot of Channel 4’s TFI Friday) in order to connect with the overgrown schoolboy who lurks in many of us currently flailing in the depths of middle age. Which is a shame, because I for one am not offended by his infectious childish enthusiasm and his delivery of what is, by new definition a now-safe and insipid, BBC-scrutinised script; although I appreciate I’m in the minority. I’m not back-tracking by the way, as I was amongst the great swathes of TV folk who wished for anyone but Evans when it was initially announced in a blaze of vernacular gory last year (and in the aftermath of the Clarkson debacle which prompted the whole revamp). The ‘anyone’ being a swift return for Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond, that is. I simply believed the ginger one was an ill-advised choice for a replacement of the irreplaceable triumvirate, per se, as it was my opinion that nobody could usurp the un-usurpable.
But I was soon proved wrong (in terms of Evans, NOT the reboot in general) after the first couple of episodes of new-look TG (which to those not privy to it was essentially a watered-down, sub-standard facsimile of the original), as with value-added Evans the carbon copy could at least rise above the mediocre to a certain degree. OK, nobody’s pretending for a minute that Evans is an authority on anything other than over-priced classic Ferraris bid for at prestige motor auctions, yet it was clear to see that the daggers were out from the get-go, as the former enfant terrible of the Beeb’s radio broadcasting yore cranked up the full-on aural offensive giving many ‘angries from Manchester’ (and well beyond) repetitive ear strain syndrome. But at least Evans actually looked/sounded like he was enjoying himself and living out some sort of boyhood dream, as opposed to the morose delivery which dropped out of co-presenter, (the aptly-named) Matt LeBlank’s vastly underwhelming frontal orifice. He who continued to draw entertainment blanks throughout the entire series lest we forget. And then there was the rent-a-crowd. And I’m not referring to the (equally below par) live studio audience, but instead the hastily-gathered occasional furniture which served to dress up the now half-full TG hangar; and laboured under the guise of a German racing driver, a former F1 team owner and a couple of blokes off the internet. A rag-tag bunch of people who spectacularly failed to live up to any form of expectation from those who even dared to have any from the outset. Personality vacuums who – with the exception of the two internet guys who could it seemed enliven themselves a little more than the cattle prod-required LeBlank – could have been reading a weather forecast as opposed to being involved in the once great TG for all they appeared to care. And who now, collectively were threatening to make the show’s reimagining look shitter than 5th Gear.
But back to the former saviour of Radio 1 (pre-fellow Christopher and loudmouth, Moyles), Mr Evans. And the groundswell of derisory opinion in online motoring circles that he was simply a car fan with no credible knowledge on the cars he was waxing lyrical about in front of millions a few people every Sunday evening; which last time I looked wasn’t a crime as such. Give me 1 guy genuinely ecstatic about being let loose in the vicinity of a supercar over a few others who appeared to recruit the same level of interest they would when doing the weekly food shop when placed in a like-for-like situation. But then what do I know? Like Evans I have a passion for cars, yet lack the bookish edge that people who write about cars for a living possess/relentlessly bang on about like it’s a badge of honour which affords them VIP entry into a select club the rest of us can only dream/masturbate furiously about; hence will never be accepted as long as I continue to plough my alternative/screwball/disdainful auto-scribing furrow in a microscopic recess of the motor blogging universe which is visited fewer times than Rolf Harris behind bars. But, like Evans, I offer something a little different, and different makes for a lot more entertainment than the predictable and mundane facts and figures brigade if you ask me. Which of course you didn’t, but like you I’m entitled to my two penny’s worth on the Evans/TG thang, so there you go. Put that in your collective pipes and smoke it.