Chris Harris is a journalist, a font of car knowledge, and now presenter of BBC’s Top Gear. However, it didn’t exactly go smoothly for Harris on his first season of Top Gear, as revealed during an episode of The Late Brake Show on YouTube.
Chris Harris is a household name for any petrolhead. From his days at Autocar magazine to his YouTube series Chris Harris On Cars, the man is a walking encyclopedia of four-wheeled knowledge.
Having been asked to join the Top Gear team following the departure of Clarkson, Hammond, and May, Harris took the BBC up on their offer, but it didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts.
With Clarkson et al having built up such a dedicated fanbase during their time on Top Gear, replacing them was always going to be tricky. In theory, Chris Harris was a perfect choice, but it seems the British public didn’t always share that opinion, as discussed with Jonny Smith on an episode of The Late Brake Show.
Chris Harris on Top Gear
While the first ‘new’ top gear team of Chris Evans, Chris Harris, Sabine Schmitz, Rory Reid, and Eddie Jordan first hit screens, there was an expected backlash from long-time fans of the show.
However, it turns out that the backlash went beyond passing comments about how people ‘preferred the old show.’ Chris revealed that he had received a number of personal, direct hate-mail messages and that he had “never experienced hate like it” during his first season on Top Gear, as “once the population wants to hate something… you’re in trouble.”
Harris admitted that he wrote openly at the time to say “anyone who takes on Top Gear [after the original team left] were psychotic” and yet despite that, he took the job, though he admits he “still stands by that” when referring to his statement.
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“Top Gear is a complicated brand”
Chris was no stranger to the task ahead of him, however: “Top Gear is a complicated brand because it has an interesting legacy” though he openly states that the first series he did with Chris Evans was “not a good experience for any of us.”
Discussing that first season, he says it was a “bumpy ride… but I’m glad I did it because 17-year-old me would’ve been profoundly disappointed if I hadn’t given it a go!”
Not only that, but he also spoke of his friendship with one-time co-host Matt LeBlanc: “He’s a great bloke and genuinely loves his cars… he’s been a really good friend to me through a difficult time. I needed someone with his level of experience to help navigate resurrecting a brand (Top Gear).”
Thankfully, he has now settled into the role of Top Gear presenter alongside Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff, who Chris admits is one of his “heroes.” Hopefully, this means the hate has stopped too, as the trio – individually or as a unit – have certainly re-invented the Top Gear show and made it their own.