Interview: The stars of Top Gear discuss the show’s epic return on BBC One

Top Gear is back and this time it’s on BBC One with a number of covid friendly changes – including a stunning outdoor set.

Following the success of their first series together, the trio returned with even higher audience ratings, seeing the opening episode of their second series pull in an audience of more than 4.3 million (consolidated), the highest for the show in four years. In between seasons they also filmed the Top Gear Nepal Christmas Special, which saw the team embark on an epic high-altitude voyage from Kathmandu to the Forbidden City of Lo Manthang, thrilling UK audiences when it aired in December.

We sat down with Paddy, Freddie, Chris and exec Producer Clare, to find out more about the new series, which starts on Sunday…

Paddy, Freddie and Chris told us more about what we can expect from the latest series…

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car has been dropped.  How creative can you be with the format now you’re on BBC One?

Clare (Exec Producer): I think the joy with Chris and Paddy and Freddie is there aren’t any rules, we’re doing something with Fred next week for the next series which we’d have never done before. It doesn’t have to be a strictly format, the format is its an hour of television with these three doing great things. I’m not saying there wont be another celebrity in the next show, but it has to be the right one. I think for the next series we’ll sill be in the UK so that will influence what we do too.

Someone nearly dies in every episode. Any close scrapes this time?

Paddy: Every year someone nearly dies yes, this series I think we all nearly died when we did the wall of death. There’s always risks but there are more rewards so we make it as safe as we possibly can so we just get on with it. We are competitive but we also push each other as well in the right way. In the Wall of Death we all encourage each other, that is a very very risky episode.

Freddie:  Yeah don’t point the finger at me, there’s only one person writing cars of in this series and it’s not me.  We do push the boundaries, you do think ‘what’s going on here?’, I think James Martin keeps having his fingers crossed hoping! We do dangerous stuff but it is collective we all want each other to do well.   James Martin’s got a sweepstake!

Chris: Fred alluded to an incident earlier, when we played musical chairs with cars. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you’re not aware of the impact you took, then you see how much you got thrown around inside the cars so I understood why I hurt so much the next day. We’re still young, fit and healthy and if weren’t nearly kidding ourselves we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. 

How do your families react to you being on the show? Do they worry?

Paddy: Fred touched on it before, some of the stuff that comes in we tend not to tell our immediate family too much about it beucase naturally they’re going to worry, and that puts a seed of doubt in your mind. In Nepal, it was so dangerous and the night my wife watched it she literally couldn’t believe it. If we mentioned it to them, we’d talk ourselves out of it.  It’s just to keep them happy and keep us in the right frame of mind.

Chris: Yeah it’s funny with the kids, it’s cool to have your daddy on telly knocking about in cars. It’s probably quite tricky being in your teens with a parent in the public eye though, so a few things I have held back on, especially Nepal I didn’t tell them much when I was there. It was utterly terrifying!

Top Gear returns with series 29 on BBC One, Sunday 8pm.  Stream it via BBC iPlayer. Vote for Top Gear in our What To Stream Awards, here.