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Simon Cowell to launch new rival to Top Gear

Simon Cowell to launch new rival to Top Gear - News

They do often say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So at TrackDays, we're not quite sure what to make of the rumours that were doing the rounds in the papers at the weekend that Simon Cowell is apparently developing a new car show that's been touted to rival the BBC's long standing Top Gear.

It's believed that, following ITV's recent decision to rest his monolith talent show stalwart The X Factor after 17 years, that the man who gave the world Leona Lewis, One Direction, Susan Boyle and, err… Jedward, is now working on the new format - presumably for the same channel - and is scouting out talent to take part in it.

Now on one hand, Cowell is a well noted petrolhead. He himself appeared on Top Gear in the third series' fifth episode back in 2003, scoring one of the three highest lap times driving the Suzuki Liana for the "Star In A Reasonably Priced Car" challenge of 1:47:1, and then the fourth highest lap in the Chevrolet Lacetti of 1:45:9 on the tenth series' fifth episode in 2007.

And the multi millionaire media mogul's own personal fleet - worth an estimated £3 million - includes a Bugatti Veyron, a Rolls Royce Phantom, a Porsche Speedster and a Jaguar E-Type - a garage that, love him or hate him, most of us can only dream of.

But of course, whilst this is all impressive, there's a fine line between owning a few flash motors and driving quite fast in them, and actually having the background, authority and nuance to deliver a motoring show of such a nature as Top Gear. That, it has to be said, is where the jury is still very much out.

Not to pour schadenfreude on Simon, but for all his successes with The X Factor and also the Britain's Got Talent  format, his TV career is also littered with a number of projects that were so nakedly cashing in on the trend of the moment with audiences, where his magic touch seemed to desert him.

For instance, in 2013, Food Glorious Food - his very obvious attempt at cashing in on the success of The Great British Bake Off - was a critical and ratings flop, cancelled after just one series.

Similarly, his Ant and Dec fronted betting game show Red Or Black, intended to rival Deal Or No Deal, was pulled after two barely watched series in 2012. Even The X Factor itself had passed its peak in terms of ratings and press interest many years before it was finally rested a few weeks ago.

Even with all the numerous changes in presenting line-up in recent years, Top Gear has continued to evolve and still retain its audience; not just here in the UK but globally, and is now two decades on air in the format viewers know and love, and more importantly, that they trust.

Motoring enthusiasts are not stupid, and will be able to tell straight away whether or not Simon's new show will be a genuinely good Jaguar or Aston Martin of car shows on the telly - or if it's a bad recreation that deserves to head to the scrapyard.

16 August 2021

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