Bad year for Top Gear
After six seasons Top Gear USA has been axed from the History Channel, while the UK show is suffering a ratings slump.
June 29, 2016 – 1:59PM
With all the brouhaha surrounding BBC’s Top Gear, was anyone bothering to pay attention to the United States’ version?
After a six season run, BBC and Top Gear USA co-host Rutledge Wood announced on Wednesday the show had been cancelled by the History Channel.
Top Gear USA has been cancelled, the BBC confirmed. Photo: Kim Cook/BBC
In a lengthy Facebook post, Wood confirmed this week’s episode was the last but said he remained hopeful Top Gear USA would find a new home.
“It’s been an amazing ride for sure, and although I don’t think the show is done, it appears that it’s done with our friends at History.”
The news is yet another blow to the struggling franchise which has seen United Kingdom audiences plummet with the introduction of new hosts Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc.
Top Gear USA host Rutledge Wood announces the end of the show on Facebook. Photo: Facebook
Evans and LeBlanc have failed to build the same rapport as previous hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, who will shortly launch their Amazon motoring show, The Grand Tour.
Top Gear USA struggled to find an audience when it first went to air in 2011, with critics giving it mixed reviews. BBC shopped around the American export for more than six years before History finally picked it up.
A.V. Club’s Phil Dyess-Nugent accused hosts comedian Adam Ferrera, racing analyst Rutledge Wood and professional racing driver Tanner Foust of lacking the same enthusiasm as Clarkson, Hammond and May.
The new-look Top Gear met with a cool reception but a few minor tweaks could soon restore its popularity.
“The graphics, music, and editing all scream Top Gear, but much of the feel of the show has been imported from a 1980s beer commercial,” he wrote.
“It must be frustrating for the people who work on a show like this to know that people are comparing them to the original, but the US version has yet to establish enough of an identity of its own to make the comparison irrelevant.”
Many aspects of the show were borrowed from the UK version, including a Stig character and fast laps. The New York Times‘ Mike Hale accused it of slavishly following the original.
Meanwhile, Top Gear‘s old hosts are gearing up for their new Amazon show.
Distraught fans have still lamented Top Gear USA‘s cancellation, flooding Wood’s post with comments spurring the hosts to continue.
One fan described the news as “terrible”. “I certainly hope that another network picks up the show, it’s truly entertaining and educational, and I love the brotherly love and banter that the three of you have.”
While the BBC said it had already begun “exploring new opportunities”, the network would also be concerned about getting its house in order back home.
Top Gear USA host Rutledge Wood thanks fans for their outpouring of support on Facebook. Photo: Facebook
Ratings for the relaunched Top Gear dropped to an all-time low by the third episode, while a report in the UK Telegraph alleges Matt LeBlanc has threatened to quit unless the BBC drops Chris Evans.
Evans, 50, has been given a less prominent presenting role but critics have already called for him to go, saying they were fed-up with his “seemingly out of control” ego.
Stuff’s Noel Burland said he’d given the new format a chance but described Evans as “the last straw”.
“Remove Chris Evans and I think we’ll see a show that might still be watchable although it will clearly play second fiddle to The Grand Tour when that is released.”