TV

Chris Evans to take back seat on Top Gear role after ratings plummet

Despite Chris Evans' protestations, the long-awaited new series of Top Gear has had a seriously tough time of it, both critically, and ratings-wise.

The third episode of six in the series went out on Sunday but overnight viewing figures were down on the previous week, which in turn were down on the first episode. A live audience of just 2.37 million tuned it, down almost half a million on episode two.

However, it seems that Evans is going to put his ego to one side in the hope of boosting the flagging show, following the positive reaction to features presented by motoring journalists Rory Reid, who tested the new Ford Focus RS, and Harris, who was shown in a film with Ferrari's F12 TDF.

Their easy, natural style was certainly at odds with Evans' initial overexuberance and went down well with reviewers. Both were relatively unknown prior to joining the show, with Reid winning his spot via a public audition.

He wrote on Twitter after the show:

It is understood that Evans and Matt LeBlanc will continue to anchor the studio footage, but Reid and Harris' material will be given greater prominence.

The viewing figures for Sunday's show were the second-lowest since Jeremy Clarkson joined back in 2002, while 'audience appreciation' figures leaked to The Telegraph revealed that the debut episode was rated as the worst quality show on terrestrial television on the weekend it aired - it scored an appreciation index of 60 out of 100, compared to a BBC2 average of 82.

While catch-up viewing - widely cited by Evans as the true criteria to judge the show - will boost the figures, the overnight numbers are the worst since the original reboot of the show, other than one episode from June 2003.

The series' remaining three episodes face a difficult task to reverse its fortunes - on overnight figures at least - as they will come up against Euro 2016 games; a problem that could have been avoided had the show's start date not been moved back.

[via Telegraph]