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Unpopular Evans quits Top Gear amidst massive ratings dive

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 05 July 2016

TOP Gear’s harshest critics — the viewers — have got their way.

Lead host Chris Evans, who had hoped to launch a new era after inheriting the show from the sacked Jeremy Clarkson, has quit the show after just one season.

Evans tweeted last night: “Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough.

“I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause.”

His resignation comes after falling ratings for the show – which hit a series low on Sunday night, with an average of 1.9 million viewers. The first episode drew 4.6 million viewers, down from the more than five million that usually tuned in to watch the previous iteration.

BBC News understands the remaining five presenters – Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid, Chris Harris, Sabine Schmitz and Eddie Jordan – will return for the next series, which is due to begin filming in September.

It is also believed Evans’ decision to leave was his alone, and that he told the BBC last week he was stepping down, saying he was not a good fit for the programme.

Fans of Top Gear had slammed Evans for his penchant to be “shouty” and “patronising” (his voice grated like fingernails scratching a blackboard), his wardrobe choice — he wore the same yellow t-shirt and dark blue jumper in the studio for all six episodes, and even his bright orange hair.

Most of all, he lacked credibility. Unlike the irreverent Clarkson, who was an authoritative motoring journalist before he became a Top Gear presenter, and could drive, radio host Evans was just a car fan — and his lack of knowledge and ability to connect with hard core car fans was as obvious as his lack of driving ability. Scenes showing him vomiting while on a fast drive with race car driver Schmitz was like a blown piston to Evans’ ambitions.

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Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most important shows. It’s brought millions of viewers to the BBC, many of whom aren’t big users of other BBC services. And internationally it’s worth tens of millions of pounds to BBC Worldwide.

While there’s been a significant fall in viewing figures, interest in and awareness of the programme remains high – the latest series with Evans and former Frends sitcom star Matt LeBlanc was sold to 130 territories outside the UK.

Crucially it doesn’t appear to have been able to recreate the chummy relationship between Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. The banter between the three was at least as important as the cars, and much of the audience feel that important element which made it more than a motoring show has been lost.

It is thought that the remaining members will be returning. When they do it’s likely many viewers will perhaps be looking for the relationship between them to be built on, in order to bring the show closer to what it has been in the past.

Perry McCarthy, the original Top Gear Stig, told the BBC: “… personally I was expecting such an announcement, I wasn’t expecting it this quickly but I did think that Chris would step down from it.

“Chris … he’s not really gelling with the viewers.

“… I probably wouldn’t want to continue if I was getting constant criticism either,” added McCarthy.

Evans, who has fronted the show throughout its current six-episode run, confirmed on Twitter he would continue with his other BBC commitments, including presenting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.

The rest of the new lineup now face an uphill task to drag the show up from where Evans has taken it.

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