TV and radio presenter Chris Evans is to head up an all-new Top Gear lineup, putting the brakes on weeks of speculation over who will front the popular motoring show in the wake of Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking.
Evans, 49, a car fan with a personal collection of vintage vehicles, has signed a three-year deal to front BBC2’s most-watched programme. Emphasizing that Evans will front an “all-new” line up in its announcement, the BBC effectively ruled out a return to the show for Clarkson’s former co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond. The future of Top Gear, which regularly attracts an audience in excess of 5 million, was thrown into doubt after Clarkson, 55, was fired for punching a producer during a row over catering.
Evans, who currently hosts the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show and the One Show, said: “I’m thrilled, Top Gear is my favourite programme of all time. “Created by a host of brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless, when in fact it’s anything but, and that’s the genius of Top Gear’s global success. “I promise I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward.”
Evans confirmed on Twitter he will continue to host his radio breakfast show – but made no mention of the One Show. Kim Shillinglaw, BBC2 and BBC4 controller, said Evans’s “knowledge of and passion for cars are well-known and combined with his sheer inventiveness and cheeky unpredictability he is the perfect choice to take our much-loved show into the future”. “Chris is a huge fan of Top Gear and has great respect for the craft and work ethic of one of the best production teams in the world,” Shillingshaw said. “He knows the phenomenal attention to detail it takes to make a single sequence of Top Gear, let alone a whole series. He is already full of brilliant ideas and I can’t wait for him to get started.”
Clarkson was suspended then dropped by the BBC in March following what the corporation initially called a “fracas”, at a North Yorkshire hotel. Producer Oisin Tymon suffered swelling and a split lip in the assault on 4 March and visited a hospital to have his injuries treated. Following an internal investigation, the BBC announced on 25 March that Clarkson’s contract on Top Gear would not be renewed. Evans’ announcement comes on the back of a successful return for TFI Friday, back a year early for its 20th anniversary last Friday, which pulled in 3.7 million viewers. Clarkson appeared in the one-off show in a special “Top Gear” featurette, during which the pair joked about Evans’s rumoured candidacy for the vacated job. “You’re not going to get my old job,” Clarkson said. To which, Evans replied: “Don’t want it. I ruled myself out.” It has been reported that Evans is keen on bringing TFI Friday back for a full series and it is understood he has already had preliminary talks with Channel 4. Production on the new series of Top Gear is set to start in the next few weeks.
Source: The Guardian