A look back at the last decade, and the connections which are shaping the 21st century.
Runtime: 60 minutes
History of Now: The Story of the Noughties - Top Gear (2002 TV series) - Netflix
Top Gear is a British motoring magazine, factual television series, conceived by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman, launched on 20 October 2002, and broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two. The programme is a relaunched version of the original 1977 show of the same name, which looks at various motor vehicles, primarily cars. While the original format focused mainly on review of cars, the 2002 version expanded on this with motoring-based challenges, special races, timed laps of notable cars, and celebrity timed laps on a course specially-designed for the relaunched programme, with its format developing over time to focus on a more quirky, humorous and sometimes controversial style of presentation. The programme has received acclaim for its visual style and presentation, as well as criticism for its content. Since 2002, the programme has been presented by several hosts. In its first series, the show's line-up was Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe, with Wilman as the show's executive producer, and introducing anonymous test driver “The Stig”, an individual played by numerous racing drivers over the course of the show's history. Following the first series, Dawe was replaced by James May, with the line-up unchanged until the end of the twenty-second series, when the BBC chose to not renew Clarkson's contract on 25 March 2015, following an incident during filming. His dismissal from Top Gear prompted the departure of Hammond, May and Wilman from the programme, and led to them joining Clarkson in forming a new motoring series. For the twenty-third series, the programme was presented by Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, with them joined by four co-presenters who would make occasional appearances during its run: Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan. After negative feedback on this series led to Evans resigning from the programme, Harris and Reid became the main hosts alongside LeBlanc, with Schmitz and Jordan making occasional appearances as co-presenters, from the 24th series onwards. Since its relaunch, Top Gear is one of the BBC's most commercially successful programmes. It has become a significant show in British popular culture, with episodes also broadcast internationally in many countries in Europe, North America, South-East Asia and more, making it the most widely watched factual television programmes in the world. Its success has led to various forms of merchandising, including live tours, special DVD editions, and books, as well as spawning a variety of international versions in various countries, including the United States, Australia, South Korea, China and France.
History of Now: The Story of the Noughties - New hosts and new era: 2016–present - Netflix
Following the dismissal of Clarkson, and the subsequent departure of May, Hammond and Wilman, the BBC began searching their replacements. On 16 June 2015, Chris Evans was confirmed as one of the new hosts, with it later suggested he would be hosting the show alone as part of a new format, despite a previous announcement that the broadcaster was holding open audition for his co-presenters; this claim was later dismissed as untrue. Although former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard had been widely reported to be joining the programme as a host, this was dismissed as speculation when he was revealed, on 11 January 2016, to be the new host of Channel 4's coverage for the 2016 F1 season. On 4 February, it was officially announced that American actor Matt LeBlanc was to join the show as Evans' co-host. On an edition of his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, a week later, Evans revealed that both men would also be joined by Eddie Jordan, motoring journalist Chris Harris, German motor racing driver Sabine Schmitz, and motoring journalist and Sky television presenter Rory Reid. Filming for the 23rd series soon began in early 2016. While the show still retained the use of the show's presentation style and its test driver The Stig, the format received a number of changes – a small number of segments were dropped, the studio received a revamp to its layout, the celebrity segment was redesigned to feature a rallycross-styled challenge, while Evans and LeBlanc would front the show with the other co-presenters appearing “when required”. On 27 April 2016, BBC Three announced that a spin-off programme to Top Gear had been commissioned, entitled Extra Gear. Designed to be aired after each episode of the new series was aired, its format focused on providing exclusive new content online – hosted by both Reid and Harris, the spin-off would consist of new footage, interviews, specially recorded films and behind-the-scenes access to the main programme. A combination of delays with production and conflicts with scheduling, led to the premiere date of the 23rd series being pushed back to 29 May 2016. In addition, the new series aired with only six of the ten episodes that it promised to show. The new look of the show received mixed feedback from critics and viewers alike – although praise was given for the inclusion of LeBlanc, Harris and Reid, the new format was panned for its sluggish pace, the lack of humour in the studio segments, and the length of time spent on the revamped celebrity segment, “Star in a Rally-Cross Car”. The most negative feedback received for the 23rd series was towards Evans' involvement – his presentation style was largely criticised, along with the lack of chemistry he had with LeBlanc. In addition to feedback, several newspaper articles highlighted the fact that the new series struggled to make reasonable viewing figures, with this partly blamed on its broadcast schedule putting it up against live broadcasts of the UEFA Euro 2016 championships. On 4 July, following the series finale, Evans announced his resignation from Top Gear, based on feedback. As a result, the BBC announced on 26 September that, among the remaining five presenters, LeBlanc would be joined by Harris and Reid to become the main hosts for the next series. To make amends for its dismal performance, Top Gear underwent a more thorough revamp, which included redoing the studio, and redesigning the show's opening titles. The show's format was refocused on elements developed in early series, a deeper work on chemistry between the presenters, while also revising the celebrity segment – as the arrangement for the 23rd series had proven to be a failure, the segment returned to its original format, though under the title of “Star in a Reasonably Fast Car”. On 31 May 2018 LeBlanc announced he would be leaving the series after the 26th season.
History of Now: The Story of the Noughties - References - Netflix