"Top Gear" is making a grand return to TV this weekend, and it’s bringing a couple new hosts along for the ride. Chris Harris is carried over from last year’s season, but Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff are making their debuts this year. Paddy happens to be a very Irish comedian, so we expect him to really bring the humor into the new season. Then Freddie is an ex-professional cricketer, who dwarfs the rest of the other hosts in stature. A car journalist, comedian and cricketer may not seem like the most obvious trio for a funny motoring show, but it’s the next formula that the BBC is trying.
We’ve only been allowed to see some brief moments of screaming and chaos in the trailers thus far, but it’s fair to say that the premise and goal of the show isn’t changing much from what’s worked in the past. The chemistry between Clarkson, Hammond and May was what ultimately made that long, beautiful era of "Top Gear" so enticing to watch, so we hope these guys can catch a bit of that spark, too. With Rory Reid down doing "Extra Gear" and Sabine Schmitz as a co-host without much expected screen time, it’s going to be up to these three to make the show succeed.
As for what stories are going to be told, there won’t be many. "Top Gear" season 27 is only scheduled to be five episodes long, so they’ll have to really hone in on what’s most important to them. We expect plenty of adventures to exotic and perhaps perilous locations, a bunch of horrific/hilarious car creations and plenty of shenanigans in between. It’s hard not to love the "Top Gear" specials wherein the hosts go trodding off to faraway lands and are forced to survive, so we’ve no doubt these kind of expeditions will be taken in some form by the new hosts, as well.
With Chris Harris being the resident car nerd, though, it’s safe to assume he’ll be handling a fair load of the actual car reviews. Expect nothing less than blankets of tire smoke and sideways everything. Supercars, sports cars and even electric cars will most likely be on the table for the evaluation sections of the show. Then of course, the Stig will eventually set the record straight on what car is fastest around the "Top Gear" test track. Going into the season, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is sitting at the top of the leaderboard.
Despite all the changes going on at "Top Gear" as of late, we’re still excited to sink our teeth into a new season of automotive madness. A new set of hosts could always be the ones that make it click like before, and "The Grand Tour" exists for anybody interested in getting their fix of the old guard.
Season 27 of "Top Gear" premieres at 8 p.m. Eastern on Sunday on BBC America.