Chris Evans 'a real team player' on Top Gear, says BBC TV chief
Published 29/02/2016 | 14:41
Top Gear host Chris Evans is a team player and it is "rubbish" to suggest otherwise, according to a BBC boss.
The car show frontman was described as a " passionate presenter" by Mark Linsey, acting director of BBC Television, following reports about Evans's behaviour on the job.
The TV chief also said it is "simply not true" to say Evans was against the appointment of Friends star Matt LeBlanc to the show's seven-strong presenting line-up.
Mr Linsey was responding to recent speculation about Top Gear which included a report that executive producer Lisa Clark left after just five months on the show due to Evans's behaviour.
In a statement, Mr Linsey said: "It is rubbish to suggest Chris Evans's behaviour on the set of Top Gear has been in any way unprofessional.
"Chris is a consummate professional and a real team-player. He is a passionate presenter who commits his heart and soul into everything he does - whether his Radio 2 show, Children In Need or Top Gear - and we are extremely fortunate to have him leading the show.
"Also, it is simply not true to suggest Chris did not support the signing of Matt LeBlanc, when he has been behind Matt joining the presenting team since day one.
"Chris and Matt are part of a wider production team that is full of brilliant and talented people. That team is tight-knit, in great spirits and utterly focused on delivering the best possible series for viewers."
When she left, Ms Clark said she was "moving on to new projects", and added: "I'd like to wish production all the very best with the show."
The BBC issued a statement thanking Ms Clark for her "incredible work for the last five months readying new Top Gear for its busy filming schedule in 2016 and planned return in May".
When she was appointed, Evans said: "Lisa is as good as it gets when it comes to making big, important television shows. She's funny, sassy, super experienced and has always absolutely loved cars."
She took the role previously held by Andy Wilman, who left the show after his old school friend Jeremy Clarkson was dropped following a fracas with another member of the production staff.
Last week, Clarkson issued a formal apology to the Irish producer he punched in a deal to settle a racial discrimination and personal injury claim.
Oisin Tymon launched the action against Clarkson and the BBC after the former Top Gear presenter gave him a bloody lip in a bust-up last March.
Clarkson reportedly flew into a rage after being told he could not order steak after a day of filming, calling Mr Tymon a "lazy, Irish c***" during the fracas at a North Yorkshire hotel.
No details of the settlement were given, but it is understood to be more than £100,000. Clarkson and the BBC both contributed.
The settlement means there will not be an employment tribunal hearing, which could have heaped further embarrassment on the popular presenter.
The BBC sacked Clarkson, 55, from Top Gear following the bust-up, prompting his co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond to quit the show.
Clarkson, May and Hammond have signed up to launch a rival show on Amazon's TV service.
The new series of Top Gear returns to BBC Two in May with presenters including German racing driver Sabine Schmitz and Formula 1 commentator Eddie Jordan.