JOHN GRIFF: Chris and Top Gear team have hit the road running

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Did you watch it? And if you did, what did you REALLY think of it?

On Sunday, viewers finally got the chance to see for themselves what the team of programme makers has been up to over the past months, as the covers to the new-look Top Gear were taken off on BBC2.

Some of that new team, led by Chris Evans, presented themselves to what looked like a huge audience massed both on and above the studio floor.

Exotic cars roared past the camera in exotic locations while people in the public eye did their best to control a Mini both on and off the TG test track at Dunsfold Airfield, where years ago the Hawker Aircraft Company did most of the invention and development work for what became the Harrier fighter jet.

An hour’s television flashed by very quickly, and then it was gone, with the promise of more to come next week.

The TG team literally hit the road running, and yet seemingly before the opening credits had finished rolling people were judging the show to be a complete flop – a spectacle unachieved.

Only 4.4 million viewers saw the likes of Evans and le Blanc take the world’s biggest motoring entertainment show into its next incarnation.

ONLY 4.4 million? On a bank holiday weekend?

And after all the hype, the production budgets and – according to the press – the infighting on and off set?

The papers have called for Chris Evans to get the axe for his pale imitation of the previous lead presenter.

Clarkson, when asked, said enigmatically that he wasn’t going to be providing a critique of the new show.

What happened after Sunday night is, for me, an indicator of just how ridiculous social media has become. How could people make the judgements that they did so quickly? Are those judgements valid?

Everyone has the right to an opinion, but what happened was tantamount to national trolling in the cyber equivalent of a boxing ring, with self-appointed but unqualified “experts” battering a team delivering an established brand.

How much has the new team delivered so far? One hour-long episode.

And the previous incumbents? Many years of series, including one-off specials.

Top Gear now is almost identical to the Top Gear of the immediate past, with all its furniture, features and character types. It is demonstrably what it used to be – what else was it ever going to be? Of course it will take time to settle into its current incarnation, just as did what preceded it.

Change doesn’t take five minutes – and particularly so if it is to have staying power.

My own concern that TG would start out as TFI Friday-with-Wheels was unfounded – and for a first episode I personally thought that the team did a great job. They know they have work to do – and quickly with Clarkson, Hammond and May lining up alongside at Amazon Prime and their show “Grand Tour”. If anything, car fans now have something they never had before – choice.

The savaging that the TG Team has taken is an alarming indicator of where our society seems to be heading and through social media we’re suddenly all experts in every field. Chris Evans isn’t a motoring journalist any more than my mother is.

He’s an entertainer paid to entertain. Why does everything have to be judged within the first moments of its existence, rather than letting it flourish over a period of time? Instant judgement is rarely instantly accurate and if we expect to be listened to in the future, we need to listen ourselves first.

Carry on Chris.