Thursday 24 May 2018

'The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY' - Chris Evans responds to criticism over viewing figures

Chris Evans had a light-hearted dig at Jeremy Clarkson as the revamped Top Gear launched
Chris Evans had a light-hearted dig at Jeremy Clarkson as the revamped Top Gear launched
Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc during the first episode of Top Gear
Chris Evans in the new series of Top Gear Photo: Mark Yeoman

New Top Gear presenter Chris Evans has taken to Twitter to respond to reports about the viewing figures for the opening episode of the show.

The BBC Two show drew 4.4 million viewers, with a peak of 4.7 million and was the most-watched programme in the 8pm time slot, beating Antiques Roadshow on BBC One and the British Soap Awards on ITV.

While it beat the first episode of the very first series when it launched in 2002 (with 3.5m), it drew less than the last series' finale (5.8m), fronted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

Earlier in the week Evans said he would be "disappointed" with fewer than 5m viewers but has taken to Twitter to voice his pride in the show.

"The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY. 23 % audience share. 12% MORE than the opening episode of the last series. These are the FACTS." he wrote.

He added, "Top Gear audience grew throughout the hour. FACT. Won its slot. FACT. Still number one on i Player. FACT. These are THE FACTS folks."

"Top Gear series 1 episode 23, catch it again tonight 7 pm BBC2. That's when it's on. FACT."

Evans helmed the show with former Friends star Matt LeBlanc and the first episode saw them driving Reliant three-wheelers from London to Blackpool in a UK vs USA competition, with Evans enjoying significantly more luck.

The show also featured the unveiling of new segment Star in a Rallycross Car, which replaced the popular feature Star In A Reasonably Priced Car.

Chef Gordon Ramsay and actor Jesse Eisenberg became the first celebrities on the leaderboard after racing a Mini Cooper around the track.

The new presenting team joined after the old team left following a fracas between lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a producer over hot food.

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