We love, above all, ribald humour, joshing around, self-deprecation, sarcasm, irony. We love old, fat, balding blokes wearing jeans and whacking engines with hammers to make them work. And we can’t even explain what’s funny about that, except that it is. Which everyone who worked on the previous incarnation of Top Gear got, and exploited, some would say beyond its sell-by date, but I’d wager that Amazon will find there are still pips to be squeaked come the autumn.
Of course, Top Gear should have died a death with Clarkson’s departure from the BBC. Yes, it existed before Clarkson, but it moulded to his personality over the years and ripping the two asunder has weakened both. The problem is, Top Gear is another RBS: too big to fail. It’s the ultimate BBC cash cow, bringing in about £50m a year for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm, through DVDs, events, books and gaming, and acting as the BBC’s biggest commercial brand in 214 territories.
So we can carp all we like, but Top Gear’s going nowhere, no matter who’s at the helm.