Tony Verdon: Pressure builds at Top Gear
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The BBC continues to insist Top Gear is in robust good health, but the omens say otherwise.
The resignation of ‘Mr Shouty’ Chris Evans should have cleared the way for the remaining presenters to get the show back on the rails.
The rest of the new presenting line-up, including Matt LeBlanc, proved surprisingly popular successors to Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
But apparently all is not well in the Top Gear porta-cabin office as intense commercial pressure mounts to speed up production.
Overseas buyers of the programme are unhappy about the small number of programmes produced so far.
They are complaining about big holes in their schedules where the top-rating show should be appearing.
The post-Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear production team initially committed to making up to 18 episodes in the first year. This included two Christmas Special editions.
So far, as Prime viewers here know, only six have been produced and broadcast, and the two Christmas Specials have been cancelled.
A second series, to be fronted by Matt LeBlanc, has been scheduled during the northern hemisphere spring, in March or April next year.
But Private Eye magazine says the Top Gear team is now faced with having to produce twice as many shows as they have already, in half the time, if they are to meet the quota.
With so much pressure on the production team, Private Eye’s man on the test track says there are two options: Either they won’t be able to deliver, or the episodes will be rubbish.
A steak pie in the microwave for Jeremy might have avoided this situation 18 months ago...