Disclaimer: I know nothing about automobiles or TV production. This is only my personal view on how much I enjoyed the show and its previous incarnation. I know I am an absolute twat/wanker/arsehole/halfwit (take your pick, I don't mind) so please don't waste your time leaving comment to lecture on what I already knew. To speak the truth, if I could set this sh*t to be private and "visible only to myself", I would. And apologies in advance if you don't like what I am about to write, or even what I've already written.
One would've thought hosting a TV show can't be that difficult. It's just reading autocues (carefully scripted by a squadron of seasoned writers), chatting to your co-hosts and guests (if there are any) and smiling at the studio audience (handled by floor managers). Anyone could do it.
Well, think again.
Firstly, no writer can create a persona for a presenter from thin air. It has to be based on actual personality. And let's just be polite and say not everyone has a broadcasting-worthy personality.
Secondly, to apply what I would call "the golden dictum of Charlie Brooker (creator of "Black Mirror")" that "everyone on telly is incredibly clever", the celebrity guests would be rather quick-witted. Hence the conversation would be much more intense than just any casual chat down the pub. It's hard enough keeping up with a clever person; as a host you should not just take over the instant your guest finish talking but also, depending on the case, either ease the atmosphere to prompt your guest for more or curb his or her desire to overshare. Not to mention at that time half a dozen of cameras are pointing at you, glaring lights are making you sweat and producers in gallery are shouting in your ear telling you to move on. And you are supposed to look professionally relaxed, confident and most importantly, be in charge.
TV presenting in general is a tough job.
And comparison, cruel as it is, reveals that there are good presenters and better presenters.
The most recent episode saw Matt and Chris interviewing Dara Ó Briain and Ed Byrne. Both are prestigious stand-up comedians on British stages and screen (Dara hosts a BBC topical satire show named Mock the Week and Ed is a recurring panelist) and they've been best friends (best man at each other's wedding) for years. The pair effortlessly stole the show from the hosts with their banters. And it is painfully embarassing to watch Matt and Chris struggling to stay in the quickfire one-liner game, hardly getting a word into the conversation.
Back in Jeremy's decade's reign, however, the number of people managed to outfun Jeremy can be counted in one hand and no-one took the control from him. And we are not talking about dumb Z-listers from reality shows. In Clarkson years, that hangar has been lightened by the illustrious presence of Jimmy Carr, Ed Sheeran, Rowan Atkinson, John Prescott, Sir Terry Wogan, Jay Leno, Hugh Grant, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz (the two were on together).
So here we are. Matt, Chris and Rory have a lot to live up to. I am glad that the chemistry between the trio is working out, especially in the VT sessions. But I doubt they will ever be as good. You see, there's one thing the new team haven't got that cannot be taught: the eagerness to push boundaries just for a laugh. And for that, BAFTA owes Clarkson&Friends one for Best Comedy Performance.