Tuesday 23 January 2018

'I gave it my best shot but it wasn't good enough' - Chris Evans on quitting Top Gear

Evans quits 'Top Gear' as police confirm probe into sex allegations

Poor ratings dogged the Chris Evans version of 'Top Gear'. Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Poor ratings dogged the Chris Evans version of 'Top Gear'. Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Patrick Foster

Chris Evans quit as host of 'Top Gear' yesterday, after his revamped motoring show was derided as a failure and amid a police investigation into claims that he sexually assaulted a former colleague.

The morning after the final episode of his stint on the show recorded the lowest audience figure since it was revived by Jeremy Clarkson in 2002, the presenter said he had given it "my best shot, but sometimes that's not enough".

Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Chris Evans after he announced that he was
Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Chris Evans after he announced that he was "stepping down from Top Gear". Photo: Chris Evans/Twitter/PA Wire

Evans added: "I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause."

Hours before the presenter's statement, Scotland Yard confirmed that officers were investigating an allegation of sexual assault, after a woman accused the host of exposing himself to her, and groping her breasts, in the 1990s.

BBC sources insisted that Evans made the decision to quit last week, before being made aware that detectives were probing the allegations.

Evans's tenure on 'Top Gear', which began after Clarkson was sacked for punching an Irish producer, was beset by problems from the start, with the presenter facing a barrage of tabloid claims that he was a bully on set, had alienated Matt LeBlanc, his American co-host, and had driven a senior producer to quit.

The presenter was bullish before the programme first aired, in May, setting a target of five million viewers as a benchmark for success. But the first episode received a critical mauling, and viewing figures quickly slipped away.

After several weeks of scheduling clashes with Euro 2016 football matches - which tore into 'Top Gear's young, male audience base - the sixth and final episode, on Sunday night, was seen by just 1.9 million viewers, half the number who watched a repeat of 'Antiques Roadshow' on BBC One.

Chris Evans with co-presenter Matt LeBlanc while filming an episode of ‘Top Gear’ in Killarney earlier this year
Chris Evans with co-presenter Matt LeBlanc while filming an episode of ‘Top Gear’ in Killarney earlier this year

BBC sources said LeBlanc was close to signing a new deal to become the main frontman of the show, and the corporation was unlikely to replace Evans.

Earlier in the day, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were investigating a sexual assault claim dating back to the 1990s, after reports that Evans was set to be interviewed in the coming days. In May, a woman told 'Heat Street', a news website, that Evans had exposed himself to her when they worked together, and had also grabbed her breasts. A police spokesman said in a statement that the allegation relates to incidents in Tower Hamlets in the 1990s, adding: "There have been no arrests and no person has been interviewed under caution."

Evans hosted Channel 4's 'The Big Breakfast' between 1992 and 1994, with the programme airing live from a cottage in Bow, located within the east London borough of Tower Hamlets.

The presenter has described the allegations as a "witch hunt," adding: "All these bullying claims and other allegations are just ridiculous." In a sign that the corporation was standing by the presenter, he will continue to host his Radio 2 breakfast show. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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