Oh look hey look the new Top Gear line-up has been announced! Chris Evans is in it, plus a hundred other people. 'Nobody cares! Top Gear is bad!' — you. 'No I don't like this! There's no Jeremy!' — your dad. 'A [extremely outdated racial slur] and a woman? Typical box-ticking BBC! PC Britain gone bloody mad!' – Daily Mail columnists and readers of Daily Mail columnists. But what about me? What am I saying?
What I am saying is: look at the fucking state of this collection of shoes.
A BRIEF OVER ANALYSIS OF THIS FUCKING SHITSHOW COLLECTION OF SHOES, AS SPORTED BY THE NEW TOP GEAR PRESENTERS IN THEIR NEW TOP GEAR PRESS SHOT
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a hallway. Mahogany, deeply varnished wood. A sideboard with a brass vase upon it, overflowing with berries and flowers. A thick-shag Persian rug nestles beneath your feet. In front of you, a door. A sense of trepidation rises within you, excitement. It is your birthday. Through that door is your surprise party. Who will be there? What will the decorations be? What gifts and delights await you? Open your eyes, walk through the door. It's Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, plus a hundred other Top Gear presenters.
Your birthday is a banter vacuum, isn't it? I know banter cannot be detected in photographic form – banter is microbial, a cell-level phenomenon, science's most attuned and sophisticated equipment can only detect the trail of banter left behind by a true banter particle, so ethereal is banter, so fizzing and fast-moving – but there is a dearth of it here. Like: imagine Rory Reid (maroon Burtons bomber jacket) explaining YouTube to Eddie Jordan (the 'dad's got a new heart' bloke next to The Stig). Imagine Sabine Schmitz (only woman) confusing Chris Harris (tiny man) for a production runner and asking him for a green tea. And whatever former Touring Car racer they've got trapped in the Stig costume just standing there silently, his arms folded, constantly On, glaring through a visor at a baffled Matt LeBlanc. And then Chris Evans edges into view, like a giraffe cursed by a wizard to live life as a divorcée architect confused about how to dress for his adult daughter's 21st birthday meal, and says, slowly at first, but repeating until it is loud and forceful: wahey, lads! Top actual Gear!
Anyway let's go left through right and then, like the last succulent bite of a Michelin-starred dinner, save whatever the fuck are on Chris Evans' feet for last:
Rory Reid was the one they recruited from open auditions. They looked at the five presenters and single mute savant racing driver they already had and went: no, we need a dude who still buys those T-shirts with a giant ornate cross on one side and the words 'SPIKE INK' on the back. Need a dude who sincerely considers getting his ears pierced whenever he is in the queue at River Island and sees the affordable jewellery selection. We need a dude who only goes on Facebook once a week. And lo, they found Rory, who decided to turn up to the most major photoshoot of his entire life in an unwashed pair of Roshe. Roshe: good solid trainer. Not at least wiping the sole of them with a damp kitchen sponge before getting your photo taken? Rory. Rory, Rory, Rory. If they weren't already planning to quietly phase you out halfway through the coming series, they are now.
You know Sabine Schmitz is the woman one because she is literally wearing a T-shirt with the Venus symbol on it, so men – rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the idea of a woman capable of driving and having an opinion about engines – can double-check that yes, this is a woman they are looking at, an actual human woman, albeit one who can wear ASDA George jeans with the best of them. Sabine has somehow managed the impossible, and that is rock jeans and sheux while being a woman. Like: I have never seen that done before. The overlong jeans. The crinkle towards the hem. And then: shoes, wide and shapeless, black poking beneath navy, positively Cowell-esque. I'm actually so astounded by this shoe and jean-length choice that I'm starting to think the BBC PhotoShopped them on. That Sabine turned up in actual tasteful lady clothes, and then, right at the last second, someone in the art department was like: hold on, lads, can we put the symbol of Venus on her T-shirt and somehow put her in jeans and sheux? We really need to iron out any possibility of her outfit giving some 45-year-old dude in Coventry his first erection in half a decade.
Matt LeBlanc is also wearing jeans and sheux, which I find disappointing. Like: Matt LeBlanc is here for two reasons, i. to add a little glitz and glamour to proceedings, to have softball banter with Chris Evans – Chris Evans saying "I bet you call them fries, don't you! [Chris Evans points to his jeans] What are these then, Matt, you American? 'Pants'?", and the studio audience laughs – and ii. to make this ensemble-cast Top Gear reboot a bit more fucking sellable to an international audience. And then LeBlanc shows up in jeans, and sheux, and the kind of jacket even Superdry wouldn't put their brand name on. Thoroughly disappointing.
As mentioned we will come back to Chris Evans because: fucking hell.
Chris Harris is a YouTube car vlogger, if you can imagine such a thing – like I understand why the young people go on YouTube and watch beauty tutorials and prank videos, and Teens Reacting To Very Ordinary Things, and ASMR, but quite why someone would go: hmm, got a few minutes free from responsibility in this, my short and finite time on earth. Might kick back with the 'Pad and watch a video of a man driving on YouTube – and he is wearing what I think are Onitsuka Tigers. These are a very 'I'm just popping out for coffee, guys, does anyone want anything?' trainer. Bland, inoffensive, and among the exceptionally low standard for footwear set in this photo, the clear winner.
Eddie Jordan is wearing purple Stan Smiths – Rafs, as well – which patently shouldn't be allowed. I'm sorry: I don't care how rich you are. I don't care if you're an eccentric millionaire who still plays the drums in a band. I don't give a shit if you think blue lenses in your glasses are a good look. A 67-year-old man with a goatee beard should not legally be allowed to wear purple Stan Smiths. The Change.org petition page will be hearing from me about this.
The Stig is just wearing racing shoes, so they can't be judged, but they are still deeply bad.
AND SO TO CHRIS EVANS
I… I mean, fucking hell. At first glance these shoes are the kind of deliberately hobbled All Saints-style boots you get that are very 'shabby hi-chic' but also you wouldn't want to walk through a puddle in them because they are fundamentally for show, and then no, squint tighter and look closer: there is like some faux fur element to these, nestled between the boot and the ankle, turned down, kind of like if Vikings wore Uggs. And now I'm thinking: is this a mid-life crisis in the form of a shoe? Is Chris Evans okay? He's wear distressed jeans and a stiffly new leather jacket. There's a hoodie in there. And then down to the shoes: they don't go, at all. Look at these shoes.
What the fuck is going on with these shoes.
Where does one even go about buying these shoes.
I like to pretend to myself that Chris Evans is a happy man: he is wildly rich, he has the TV contacts to revive old formats from back when he was popular essentially as a high-profile showreel to show to BBC bosses, he has a radio show, a wife, a settled family, he once spent three years getting pissed with Billie Piper, which is the first and only item on my bucket list, and yet: look at his face. Look at his shoes. Face: smiling. Shoes: howling in despair. The shoes are telling a story of a deeper Chris Evans, a sadder one. A dream gig shared with a thousand other people. The Clarkson role on a Clarkson-free car show. The captain on a sinking ship. And look again: the shoes know. The shoes know that the entire target audience of Top Gear is going to watch whatever Amazon does with the old presenting team. The target audience of Top Gear doesn't want to watch Chris Evans wear three leather jackets at once while talking to a vlogger. They don't want to watch The Stig race against a woman. They don't want Matt LeBlanc, being American. They don't want this. Nobody wants this. And the shoes know. Look at those shoes – sad, sighing apart like Bagpuss, sighing apart like Chris Evans himself – those shoes know. They know.
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