Top Gear will no longer be offensive for the sake of it, new presenter Chris Evans has vowed, suggesting Jeremy Clarkson had to resort to shock tactics due to a "lack of imagination".
Evans, whose role leading the BBC motoring show was announced last week, said he had to be "careful" but added: "Careful doesn’t mean boring. It’s a lack of imagination that makes you have to shock. It’s a race to the bottom and gets boring very quickly."
"I would never let anything go out on Top Gear that I thought could justifiably attract any negative reaction or criticism for the sake of it to cultivate notoriety," he told the Mail on Sunday.
The comments came amid speculation over whether Evans may have to step back from his business buying and selling luxury cars as a result of taking on the presenting role.
Evans's company, Zimple Cars, had a turnover of more than £6 million in the year to March 2014, the Sunday Times reported.
The presenter's friend and fellow car dealer John Collins told the newspaper Evans had "a lot of decisions to take" while the BBC said it was "much too early to comment" on whether he could continue both roles.
Evans is expected to be paid at least £1 million a year for his role hosting Top Gear, on which he will also be executive producer.
Evans said that shows did not need to be "risky and outlandish" to succeed.
"Some people, including me, in the past have said things that I thought were really risky and outlandish. Do you know how much difference they make to the programme? It’s barely noticeable but the trouble they can get you into! You think, 'Why did I do that?'," he said.
Although Evans insisted he was referring "more to myself and TFI Friday and my Radio 1 days" his comments will be seen as thinly-veiled criticism of his predecessor at Top Gear.
Clarkson became known for a series of controversies over shocking or offensive stunts on the programme, before eventually being forced out after punching a producer.
Evans said: "Surprise and unpredictability are hard work in television. But you can be unpredictable and surprising without offending anybody – it’s just more difficult."
Evans had previously ruled out taking the job at Top Gear but, writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said the situation changed after Clarkson's co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond both ruled themselves out of returning to the show.
It then became a "no-brainer" to accept the role, he said.
Tony Hall, the BBC director general, said on Sunday that he hoped the revamped Top Gear under Chris Evans would appeal to more people but retain a "sense of danger".