TV

Top Gear viewing figures slip to new low

Try as they might to keep on driving forwards, it seems the only direction that the new Top Gear is going is backwards.

Overnight figures for the latest episode in the new series - the fourth of six - show that they have dropped again, for the third consecutive week.

The first episode of the new-look show brought in a respectable 4.8m viewers, but since then, the numbers have dropped to 2.8m, then 2.37m and now 2.34m. It 'beat' the previous record low since the show's original reboot back in 2002, which saw 2.36m viewers tune in on 15 June 2003.

As ever, these figures should be issued with the caveat that catch-up watchers will substantially add to that number, but BBC bosses would have hoped to have at least arrested the downward trend by now. Although they came close to matching the previous week's numbers, they still lost viewers.

Critics, however, seem to have been more forgiving than the public, with nods of approval for Evans toning down the decibels and Eddie Jordan's eccentricity winning praise. In particular, the two new 'unknowns' Chris Harris and Rory Reid have continued to impress, suggesting that perhaps the show's bosses should have looked past star power when selecting the new line-up.

On the other hand, whoever replaced Clarkson, Hammond and May was bound to get a public kicking, so perhaps Evans is big enough to perform that job to keep others out of the firing line and allow them to grow into their new roles.

Nonetheless, the BBC will be concerned, with the show one of its biggest international money makers.