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Top Gear signs off with the worst viewing figures yet

The weekly post-mortem of Top Gear's overnight viewing figures has begun again and there's good and bad news. The good news? At least with Sunday's being the sixth and final episode in the series, Chris Evans and the team won't have to face criticism again.

And the bad news? Well, the show attracted the worst overnight viewing figures of the whole series, and the worst since the pre-Clarkson era began in 2002.

Episode six saw just 1.9m viewers tune in at 8pm, down almost 1m on the previous week and fewer than half of the number that tuned in for the launch show (4.3m).

The previous week had seen hopes of a turnaround after the first viewer increase in the series - albeit a minor one, from 2.34m to 2.68m - but the final episode saw the figures nosedive once again. While - as always - catchup figures must be taken into account, the news is still disappointing for BBC bosses.

The final show's troubles highlight a host of issues for the beleaguered programme in its first series since parting company with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. While the contents of the show and the presenting team - particularly Chris Evans - have come under criticism for their performances and lack of chemistry, they haven't been helped by the bulk of the series going out during the European Championships, a key alternate interest for their main target demographic. Indeed, the final episode went up against the France vs Iceland quarter-final - albeit the effect would have been far worse had England been playing in the match.

The big question is where the show goes from here; Evans signed a three-year deal but has attracted mainly negative reviews, while Matt LeBlanc seems to have fared better, but has had to contend with rumours about him wanting to quit if Evans doesn't go first. The newer, lesser-known presenters Rory Reid and Chris Harris have been more widely praised - could BBC bosses be tempted to cast Evans adrift and trust in them instead?

Perhaps they should simply ask viewers what they'd like to see - the five comments below are some of the most instructive we've seen so far.

Update: Chris Evans has now quit the show - click to read more

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