Radio Lessons From The Real World – #23 Top Gear
Britain’s most cherished loud mouth, Jeremy Clarkson, decided May 2015 was the perfect time to punch a TV producer in the face. Widely regarded as a poor career move, and not surprisingly this assault started a domino effect that led to the end of ‘Top Gear’ as we know it. The host was sacked and his faithful rally of rev heads, James May and Richard Hammond, soon followed his departure.
Now, the BBC is trying to move on and the 2.0 rebooted version of the iconic automotive show is set to air in mid 2016 even though everyone knows it’s going to fail. You can’t blame them – the UK Broadcaster was sitting on a billion dollar franchise famous for attracting over 350 million viewers each week from over 100 countries. In fact, the Guinness Book Of Records even certifies ‘Top Gear’ as the world’s most watched factual show in history – although clearly use of the word ‘factual’ was quite loose.
So why is it doomed?
The key ingredients of humour, high production values and stunning cars will be there but the beloved posse of petrol heads will not. Beyond all, the show was a runaway success because of the incomparable chemistry between the trio of hosts. The program often propelled by their hilarious bickering, name-calling and general silliness – regularly outshining the exotic cars they were reviewing. Without them, the new show is an empty promise, a forgery, a poor copycat that doesn’t live up to a precious memory.
Shows come to an end. People retire, resign or are occasionally fired for hitting co-workers. The secret is to identify when a group of personalities have a rapport that is irreplaceable and not trying to replace it. The ‘X-Files’ reboot would have been laughable without Duchovny and Anderson – ‘Top Gear’ will be the same.
Foster a deep connection between your personalities; try to show them the value in that magical link and work hard to keep it. This powerful and intimate relationship can be coached but never forced – it is either there or it isn’t. Break the paradigm when an irreplaceable show has to be replaced and take the necessary time to do auditions and rehearsals before launching a new show to ensure the chemistry is real.
When the family Labrador dies, think long and hard before you go out and buy a Labrador puppy – it will never be quite the same.
About Ronnie Stanton
Aussie kid living in Canada. His office job is VP – National Brands and Programming for Corus Entertainment . Ronnie also consults radio stations and coaches morning shows all over the world. He can be reached throughwww.ronniestanton.com