Let’s be honest here, the latest incarnation of Top Gear isn’t what it used to be without Clarkson and Co. With the unceremonious exit of Chris Evans, the success of Top Gear now falls on the shoulders of its remaining players. But we have our eye on Chris Harris; the man’s genuinely excitable about the vehicles that come his way and has a charming likeability. We grab Harris aside for a while to talk about his experiences with Top Gear thus far.
You’ve been all over the world filming for the new series, which has been your favourite place so far?
There were parts of Montenegro that I loved–I remember standing with Matt [LeBlanc] on top of a mountain looking down onto a lake… I loved Montenegro.
Which car has made the biggest mark on you this series?
I grew emotionally attached to a Volvo Estate. It’s hard to say that the Ferrari FXX K isn’t the one though.
What are your co-hosts like to live with on road trips (any annoying habits?)
(Sarcastic) Several… Matt thinks his own jokes are funny which is problematic when you’re driving along–he expects you to laugh and often they’re not funny. Rory [Reid]... well, Rory likes winning. No one has ever won with less grace than Rory Reid.
What was the strangest thing that you ate whilst filming?
A half cooked sheep’s ear with a bit of mould on it–at the time I told Matt, who also ate it (Rory didn’t), that I thought I was going to be sick. The next day he couldn’t believe I had kept it down–when I told him I’d actually made myself vomit it up he said he wish he’d done the same.
What made you most excited about going to Cuba?
I’d heard that 1) car culture is amazing–they have this thing where they have fuel containers which stick out of the bonnet of the car so they can see how much fuel they’ve got. 2) They also have this sign language culture of hitchhiking– some special hand language.
Was driving around a yard full of shipping containers in Manchester more fun than it sounds?
That was interesting. If I drew a white line and told you to walk down it, you’d be fine. But if I said actually there was a 1000 foot drop on the other side you walk down it very differently. You think you can drive accurately in confined spaces until someone puts something like a shipping container in the way and you suddenly think “I’m going to hit that”. That’s a remarkable film; I can’t wait for you to see that. There are a couple of images from up on top (aerial view) that are just stunning. It’s a great Top Gear idea that has come from the inside.
What is the best car that you’ve drifted this series?
How many other people have drifted a Ferrari FXX K? I like drifting stuff that shouldn’t be drifted. When someone tells me “that’s not a car that should be drifted”, I’ll go against that and say yes, it is.
Tell us about Kazakhstan, how cold was it and what was the weirdest thing that you did or saw?
It’s one big ball of weird. On the first day I didn’t see a single brand that was familiar. It’s a remarkable place. The weirdest thing I saw? I saw Matt try and eat part of a horse that was used in some sort of reproductive process and give up quite early on. Also saw a beheaded goat being used in a game of polo. I’m not sure which was more bizarre.
Is the Ferrari FXX K as FXX K-ing amazing as it looks?
Yes, it’s bonkers.
What’s been the funniest moment on set so far?
In TV you want things to happen, in Top Gear we want things to happen. But when an unscheduled crash happens it can be quite funny–it wasn’t at the time but looking back it was funny.
If you had an unlimited budget what would be your dream car?
It changes on a daily basis because I’m a car enthusiast. For me today I woke up and wanted a 1974 Porsche 911 GT3 RS–it’s one of the best cars driven and about £1.2 million pounds sterling.
Top Gear series 24 and Extra Gear are available on BBC Player (BBC Brit)