Why did Edd China leave Wheeler Dealers?

Why did Edd China leave Wheeler Dealers

For 13 seasons, Edd China was one of the beloved faces of the hit automotive show Wheeler Dealers. As the talented mechanic who could fix up everything from classic cars to commercial vehicles, Edd provided the skilled technical expertise that perfectly complemented host Mike Brewer’s gift for tracking down deals.

So when Edd suddenly announced in March 2017 that he was leaving Wheeler Dealers after so many successful years on the show, it came as a huge surprise that left many fans asking: Why did Edd China leave Wheeler Dealers?

In short, Edd’s departure was caused by a combination of factors – including creative differences, conflicts with new producers, an exhausting filming schedule, and a desire for new challenges outside the constraints of the long-running show.

In this in-depth post, we’ll explore the key reasons that led to Edd’s difficult decision to walk away from Wheeler Dealers after 13 seasons and nearly 200 episodes working alongside Mike Brewer. We’ll take a closer look at Edd’s strained relationship with the new production team, how the intense filming demands were burning him out, his desire for more creative control over the projects, and his plans for exciting new TV projects and business ventures post-Wheeler Dealers.

Brief Background on Wheeler Dealers and Edd China’s Role

Before digging into the drama behind Edd’s exit, let’s start with some quick background on the show itself and Edd’s integral role as mechanic…

Wheeler Dealers premiered in 2003 on the Discovery Channel UK and has since expanded to networks around the world. The premise follows charismatic car expert Mike Brewer as he tracks down bargain-priced, run-down old vehicles and then fixes them up with the help of ace mechanic Edd China.

After Mike finds and purchases a car needing work, it’s transported to Edd’s workshop where he tears it down, repairs mechanical issues, transforms the interiors and exteriors, and gets the cars running like new again on a tight budget. The finished vehicles are then sold by Mike for a profit, with the show detailing the entire process start to finish.

As the mechanical wizard with an incredible skill for car design and fabrication, Edd China quickly became a fan favorite on Wheeler Dealers. His expertise in restoring and customizing an array of classic cars, sports cars, trucks and other vehicles was unmatched. From diagnosing complex engine issues to crafting hand-made parts himself in the workshop, Edd demonstrated a depth of knowledge that car enthusiasts loved.

Over Wheeler Dealer’s first 13 seasons, Edd China worked on nearly 200 individual projects – making repairs, upgrades and stunning transformations to offer budget-friendly ways of modernizing dated vehicles. With Mike scouting deals and Edd handling the dirty work, their winning formula resulted in over a decade of petrolhead entertainment.

So after 13 successful seasons together and becoming recognized global stars, why did Edd make the difficult choice to leave the massively popular show behind?

Creative Differences Led Edd to Seek More Control

The first factor that contributed to Edd China’s eventual departure from Wheeler Dealers was an increasing lack of creative control and input on the vehicle builds…

With his exceptional degree of automotive engineering knowledge, Edd was eager to have more influence over the planning stages when selecting cars to feature on the show. In later seasons, he began feeling frustrated over build projects becoming overly complex just for the sake of drama and entertainment value.

Rather than focus on unnecessarily tricky restorations, Edd wanted to highlight more practical, DIY-friendly upgrades that everyday mechanics and car enthusiasts could actually achieve in their own garages. However, the production team tended to overrule Edd’s preferences for car choices and build plans in order to create what they felt would make the most stimulating TV viewing.

After years of having limited say in the vehicle picks and build directions, Edd longed for more input on the creative direction. In his mind, simpler, less sensationalized builds would not only be more attainable for home mechanics, but also better reflect his purpose as an educator and engineer. The lack of control over the projects was leading him to feel constrained and unfulfilled.

In an interview after his departure, Edd expressed that “…the producer was choosing projects without asking me what I thought of them. And worse than that, choosing projects where I knew the budget and timescale were completely unrealistic.”

Clearly the difference of opinion over the program’s creative direction had been an ongoing source of frustration for Edd. With his extensive knowledge, he wanted more influence in the show’s concept and builds. But with other parties controlling the projects, he felt powerless – eventually realizing he needed to walk away and seek out opportunities for greater creative input elsewhere.

Clashes With New Executive Producer Drove Edd to His Breaking Point

In addition to general creative differences with the show’s producers, when Wheeler Dealers brought on a new executive producer and production company in 2017, there were immediate personality conflicts that became the final nail in the coffin for Edd…

After 12 successful seasons working under the original production team, Wheels Dealers made a major switch for Series 13 in 2017. A new company called Attaboy TV took over the show, along with installing a new lead producer named Clare Pizey.

By all accounts, Edd and the new production regime simply did not get along well or see eye to eye. It quickly became an oil-and-water relationship that only exacerbated Edd’s existing frustrations over creative differences.

Numerous tensions arose between Edd and the new team, from disputes over car selections to budgets and deadlines no longer meshing with Edd’s preference for quality work. In the end, the clashes proved irreconcilable – and Edd decided to walk away just one season after the new production company took the helm.

In statements after leaving, Edd described feeling that the new producer had little knowledge of what made the show work, and portrayed them as overly focused on drama rather than craftsmanship and realism:

“The production company had been taken over…by people who really didn’t know anything about making Wheels Dealers, or making television programmes involving cars at all… I felt that they were focusing on drama and not on the builds, and the information that I wanted to present.”

Clearly the lack of shared vision and mutual respect between Edd and the incoming executive producer created an unworkable environment. With little common ground, Edd likely saw no possibility of compromising and continuing on constructively. The personality conflicts ultimately drove him to call it quits after 13 seasons.

Grueling Filming Schedule Led to Burnout After 13 Years

In addition to the creative disputes, another major factor influencing Edd’s decision to depart Wheeler Dealers was the increasingly strenuous filming and production schedule…

To produce enough content for 10 television episodes per season, Edd was required to dedicate nearly 10 full months per year to nonstop filming for Wheeler Dealers. This allowed minimal time to pursue other engineering interests or spend time with family.

After 13 seasons of such intense commitment and hectic filming, Edd understandably started to suffer from mental and physical exhaustion. Long-running TV programs often run into risks of burnout with cast members, and Edd’s situation was no different.

The demands of TV production took Edd away from hands-on restoration work that was his true passion. All the shooting, lighting setups, multiple takes and other repetitive tasks of television became more frustrating over time. Edd felt worn out from trying to compress complex builds into short filming windows, with pressure to stick to tight deadlines.

In an interview after leaving, Edd described the intense filming period each season: “Filming took 10 months of every year, requiring six day weeks with very long hours every day.”

With Wheeler Dealers dominating the majority of his year for over a decade, it’s not surprising Edd yearned for more time flexibility. The grueling schedule left scarce opportunity to take a break or pursue other engineering interests outside the show. By walking away, Edd finally claimed back his personal time – though at the cost of leaving a hugely successful program he had helped build.

Seeking New Challenges and Freedom From Wheeler Dealers’ Confines

Burnout from the filming demands wasn’t the only motivation behind Edd decision to move on. He also expressed a simple desire for a fresh challenge and more creative freedom outside the limitations of Wheeler Dealers…

After working on Wheeler Dealers for 13 seasons spanning close to 200 individual car builds, Edd understandably felt he had accomplished all he could within the show’s format. He was eager for a new creative venture where he could apply his expertise in innovative ways, without being pigeon-holed into a specific TV role.

Having become globally recognized through the show, Edd knew he had appeal and credibility to create a unique program that was fully his own. No longer conforming to a predictable formula or others’ vision for the projects, Edd hoped to showcase his skills and ideas on his own terms.

In a Facebook statement shortly after leaving, Edd alluded to feeling constrained by the repetitive Wheeler Dealers format when he said: “I will be leaving Wheeler Dealers due to differing filming commitments. It’s been a great journey over the last 13 years and I’d like to thank Discovery and all the Wheeler Dealers fans for the support over the years.”

Clearly Edd appreciated the opportunities Wheeler Dealers provided for so many years. But the time ultimately came when he could no longer push his creativity and talent within the boundaries and schedules required of a long-running TV production. His ambitions had simply outgrown the confines of the show.

How Did Edd China Announce His “Wheeler Dealers” Departure?

After exploring the major factors that led to Edd China’s exit, how did he actually break the news to fans and make his departure official?

Edd formally announced he was leaving Wheeler Dealers via a Facebook post on March 21, 2017. His statement read:

“It’s time for a change, time I came off Wheeler Dealers. I will very much miss the crew and cars, but after 14 series I think it’s time for me to move on from the show.”

He went on express his appreciation for fans’ support over the years, closing out with: “Hopefully the episodes I’ve completed with Mike Brewer over the last year airing this Spring and Summer will still be enjoyable. You never know, this may not be the last you see of us working together.”

Considering his long history and close relationship with co-host Mike Brewer, Edd kept his social media announcement short, gracious and relatively vague regarding his specific reasons for moving on. But his language clearly implied he was ready for a change and new creative direction after so many seasons together.

Ironically, Edd’s final episode filmed for Wheeler Dealers turned out to be one of the most impressive builds he took on during his tenure on the show – a 1976 Ford Escort RS2000 Mk1 restoration. After completing a wide array of remarkable projects over 13 seasons, Edd ended his epic run by resurrecting another classic British car icon.

Ant Anstead Takes Over as New Wheeler Dealers Mechanic

Following Edd China’s departure, Wheeler Dealers had some massive boots to fill. Producers needed to find another mechanic with comparable car restoration skills and on-camera charisma.

For Series 15 which premiered in January 2019, the show turned to English TV host Ant Anstead to step in as the new workshop expert. Like Edd, Ant brought an extensive background in auto mechanics and design along with experience hosting automotive TV programs.

Alongside Mike Brewer, Anstead handled wrenching duties starting with a 1955 Chevy Bel Air Gasser rebuild. He continued working on the show through 2020 until other TV opportunities arose, including hosting his own program called Celebrity IOU: Joyride.

As the new face in Edd’s sizable role, Anstead generally received positive reviews for his personable on-camera presence and practical mechanical knowledge. While he never quite matched the pure engineering brilliance and quirky style Edd brought, Anstead held his own – keeping Wheeler Dealers running successfully after a major casting shake-up.

Edd China’s New TV and YouTube Projects Post Wheeler Dealers

While Edd China walked away from Wheeler Dealers after 13 memorable seasons, that certainly wasn’t the end of his television career. He continued his mission of making engineering fun and accessible through an exciting new project…

Not long after announcing his departure from Wheeler Dealers, Edd launched a YouTube channel called simply “Edd China” where he began releasing weekly videos in 2017. Combining humor and intricate workshop builds, his YouTube series allowed Edd to take full creative control and directly connect with fans.

Then in 2018, Edd premiered a new show called Ed China’s Workshop Diaries exclusively through his YouTube channel. The series featured Edd’s signature style of impressive craftsmanship and comical educational entertainment.

Workshop Diaries highlighted unique mobility-related builds, like converting a 1948 Citroen H Van into an electric motorhome. The show allowed Edd to exercise his engineering creativity without network TV restrictions – while YouTube provided a platform for his tantalizing projects to reach dedicated fans.

Between his thumbprint YouTube videos and the Workshop Diaries program, Edd China carved out an exciting new chapter that let him apply his remarkable skills on his own terms. Though he moved on from mainstream television, Edd found immense fulfillment – and no shortage of fans – through the new online video projects he spearheaded.

Edd Continues Custom Car Work at His Famous Grease Junkie Shop

Beyond his television and online video endeavors, Edd China has never wavered from his first love – getting his hands dirty with mind-blowing custom car and motorcycle work at his famous workshop…

In addition to building an impressive media career, Edd has continually run his own personal auto shop in the UK called Grease Junkies. He first opened the workshop in 1995, where he fabricated groundbreaking custom vehicles long before Wheeler Dealers.

Grease Junkies is where Edd has continually pursued his truest passion – one-of-kind car and motorcycle builds that live free of the creative constraints of television. At his shop, Edd has crafted incredible fictional vehicles, eccentric off-road cars, and practical electric vehicle conversions amongst many other projects.

The innovative craftsmanship Edd has demonstrated out of Grease Junkies over the decades is a testament to his capabilities as an engineer. Though Edd has moved on from Wheeler Dealers, his renowned custom workshop continues turning out jaw-dropping, outrageously imaginative projects.

For any Petrolhead, Grease Junkies remains a must-see destination to witness Edd China’s artistic talent designing radical, functional vehicles unmatched anywhere else. Though he’s no longer the face of a hit TV show, the magic is still happening at Edd’s famous shop.

Why Edd China Left Wheeler Dealers – Key Takeaways

In this extensive exploration of Edd China’s departure from Wheeler Dealers, we’ve covered the primary factors that led to his difficult decision, how he announced the news, and the exciting new projects that have filled his time since leaving:

  • Creative differences increasingly left Edd feeling limited, as producers overrode his input on car picks and builds
  • Personality clashes with new executive producer and production team proved irreconcilable
  • Exhausting 10-month filming schedule each year led to burnout after 13 seasons
  • Desire for new challenge and freedom from Wheeler Dealers’ predictable formula
  • Announced departure via Facebook in March 2017; last filmed episode was Ford Escort build
  • Ant Anstead took over mechanic role starting in Series 15
  • Edd launched popular YouTube channel and online series Workshop Diaries
  • Continues innovative custom builds and passion projects at his Grease Junkies shop

Though Edd China’s abrupt exit shocked many devoted Wheeler Dealers fans initially, it’s clear in retrospect that moving on opened new possibilities for Edd to exercise his creativity. Through online video projects and unique workshop builds, Edd has upheld his flair for engineering entertainment – just freed from the constraints of a long-running television show.

While Wheeler Dealers will never quite be the same without Edd’s wit and mechanical mastery, his departure was an understandable progression after 13 seasons. For Edd China, leaving the show that made him an international star was his choice to break out of a creative rut and pursue more fulfillment through the customized projects he dreams up.

After close to 200 episodes and over a decade together, there was simply nowhere left for Edd to push the Wheeler Dealers concept. Though the show provided immense opportunity early in Edd’s career, eventually he outgrew its familiar formula. By seeking more ambitious outlets like Workshop Diaries and Grease Junkies to express his skills, Edd honored his passions as a ingenious engineer.

The split allowed Edd and Wheeler Dealers to evolve in their own directions – even if that meant moving on from a team the world fell in love with. While the show has continued on successfully, Edd China has also flourished by exploring exciting new programs tailored to his capabilities.

In the end, Edd stayed true to the creative spirit and interests that have driven him since those early days tinkering at Grease Junkies long before television. For devoted Edd China fans, his unique talents live on in the passion-fueled builds he develops free from the creative handcuffs of network executives or production demands.

Though no one can replace the irreplaceable Edd China on Wheeler Dealers after his long, successful run, at least his genius craftsmanship is still out there benefitting Petrolheads and innovators in all-new ways. Edd made the tough but necessary choice to move on, and for that decision we thank him – since it’s enabled some of his best, most unrestricted work yet.

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