TV

New Top Gear ‘already facing problems’

Now that the revived TFI Friday has finally reached the end of its comeback series, Chris Evans can belatedly focus on the small matter of taking over one of the BBC's best-loved shows - but he might be wishing he'd got started a little earlier.

As if it wasn't enough of a challenge to be following in the footsteps of Clarkson, Hammond and May, the new programme - which seems certain to be a solo presented effort from Evans - has been beset with problems.

With the start date of 8 May looming, the show lost executive producer Lisa Clark, who Evans personally brought in to oversee the revamped show, just before Christmas. She was herself a replacement for seasoned pro Andy Wilman, who left the BBC to follow Clarkson to his new home on Amazon Prime.

And now an even more fundamental problem has seemingly been discovered: Evans is finding it very difficult to talk and drive at the same time.

The Sun quoted a source as saying: "Chris is really struggling to master the art of driving and talking to camera, which is crucial. It’s a skill. Jeremy, Richard and James could do it no problem, in one or two takes."

It has, apparently, been taking him up to ten takes to perfect a shot, which is proving problematic when the show is on such a tight deadline.

Of course, it's been a while since Evans did anything that was largely prerecorded - the revived TFI Friday, his Radio 2 breakfast show and The One Show all went out live, with a sense of 'planned anarchy'. 

The insider said: "Chris has struggled to get his head around pre-recorded videos, which is mostly what Top Gear is. Unfortunately, when you come to plan all this stuff, it can't be done on the fly."

However, this afternoon, the Beeb hit back, with a spokesperson saying  “This ‘story’ is complete nonsense and the truth is that Top Gear producers have been blown away by how quickly Chris has taken to talking to camera whilst driving at speed, a skill which has taken some presenters a long time to master.”

Could the fact that Clarkson is a columnist for The Sun have anything to do with the rumour? Or are we just being cynical?

Meanwhile, simply the driving itself is proving problematic - the same source said: "The first time Chris went round the Top Gear track he crashed the car. Unfortunately for him it was a brand new Jag that had been lent to the show."

As if this wasn't all enough, BBC Two controller Kim Shillinglaw, keen to protect one of the Beeb's most valued assets, has become a "nightmare" meddler, interfering with editorial decisions.

Perhaps the BBC should cut their losses and appoint the man we all know should have been given the job in the first place.

(Image: Rex)