How to watch episode one of the new Top Gear
Plus what you can expect and a recap of behind-the-scenes drama.
Watch in the UK
If you're a subject of the British crown or just happen to be in the area, you have first dibs on episode one of season 23 – it airs at 8:00 p.m., Sunday, May 29 on BBC2. You can find Extra Gear, TG's new behind-the-scenes show, immediately following the main event over on BBC3.
Watch by pretending you're in the UK
This is a little more involved. You'll need to use something called a virtual private network, or VPN, to get past the region restrictions for the BBC iPlayer. I use an app called TunnelBear, which tricks the iPlayer into thinking I'm in the UK. Using a VPN and the iPlayer, you can stream shows through your browser after they air – so, you'll need to wait until the episode is over at 9:00 p.m. in England (4:00 p.m. eastern) for it to pop up on the iPlayer. Fair warning: Depending on your internet connection, the VPN can slow things down enough to where it isn't practical to stream.
Wait and download from the BBC
You can use a VPN and the BBC iPlayer Downloads app – it's free, regardless of where you live – to download an episode of the series immediately after it airs. Find the episode as if you were going to stream it, and then click the download button in the bottom right corner. Episodes usually stay watchable for about a month.
Download a torrent
But don't. Stealing is bad.
Wait for it to air the next day in the US
You can catch Top Gear on BBC America on Monday, May 30 at 9:00 p.m. on the east coast. Extra Gear airs immediately after, at 10:30. With the US broadcast running 90 minutes and the British airing taking up an hour, we're betting that the latest TG series will continue crossing the pond without significant changes, aside from the addition of commercials.
What to expect
No matter how you watch the first episode of this new Top Gear, you'll be disappointed if you you were hoping for something grand and innovative from Chris Evans and Co.'s first outing – it sounds like fairly typical Top Gear fare. Evans and Sabine Schmitz will test the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Dodge Viper ACR in Nevada, and Matt LeBlanc is driving the Ariel Nomad in Morocco. Then, LeBlanc and Evans drive around Blackpool using star-spangled and union-jacked Reliants. We don't know what Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan, or Rory Reid will be up to.
And then there's the drama
There's been no shortage of it in the lead up to this new version of the show. Issues started small, as they tend to do. Evans said Top Gear would get a female presenter, then the BBC's former controller, Kim Shillinglaw, said there would be "no gender diktats." This first sign of tension between Evans and his masters at the BBC grew larger, as Shillinglaw, Executive Producer Lisa Clark, and Script Editor Tom Ford all left the Beeb in rapid succession. Since those losses, there have been rumors that Evans is struggling to manage working on TV while hosting his popular BBC Radio 2 morning show, and that the Brit has a frosty relationship with LeBlanc. More recently, reports have emerged claiming that Evans has been 'behaving far worse than Clarkson ever did," a story that was backed up by a rumor that the host was cursing and shouting at the studio audience while taping episode one. Will any of this show through in the broadcast? Maybe, but frankly that's not why we're going to tune in.
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