To say this has a been a bad month for Chris Evans would be an understatement. The media mogul who seemingly got the job of his dreams this year in the new Top Gear, has quit after a multitude of issues arose. The old presenting team of Clarkson May and Hammond were spotted in Italy this week parading around and it could be argued they were celebrating the fall from grace of their former program. So where has it all gone wrong for Evans and what is the future of the beloved BBC show?
Chris Evans announced he was resigning to fans on Twitter on the morning after the final episode. The tweet said “Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. The team are beyond brilliant; I wish them all the best”. That episode saw the lowest viewer rating since the show was rebooted in 2002. It even lost out on viewer numbers to the Antiques Roadshow.
This could be down to clashes with Euro 2016 games which have attracted big crowds on TV not just in the stadiums. Evans was quick to point out earlier in the series that many people consume TV on demand, but the falling viewers on live TV is still a good indication of where the program was in viewer’s priorities.
It has not just been a professional crisis for Evans though, but a personal one too. He is under investigation for historical sexual assault dating back to the 90’s. The unnamed woman claims he exposed himself and grabbed her breasts. Evans denies the charges, calling them a witch hunt and the BBC has stated that his resignation has nothing to do with the allegations. In a show of it’s trust in him, he still retains his radio show on BBC Radio 2. This was just one part though of an endless attack on him by the media who has been reporting issues on the Top Gear set from day one. He reportedly struggled to present while driving and pictures of him being sick from a car journey went viral. He has also faced reports of bullying on set, and a fallout with co-presenter Matt Le Blanc.
How true these stories are will be revealed within time, but still not solve the fundamental issue that when broadcasted, fans were not happy at his presenting.
Fans did not like his shouting style and over excitement. He was probably trying to take the energy he created on such shows like TFI Friday, but it did not translate to the petrol head studios and there was fierce backlash on social media.
So with Evans gone, does that mean the end for Top Gear? Unlikely. If anything the controversy will provide even more anticipation for the next series, but of course this will all come after Clarkson and Co release their Grand Tour. There is room in the presenting staff to take a different road. Chris Harris know his cars and brings a geeky side missing from the previous incarnation. Rory Reid has been well received and Eddie Jordan provides some wackiness. The real star though is Matt Le Blanc, who has got only positive feedback, and with Evans out the way I expect it will be him to take over lead presenting roles. Either way though it may take more than just Evans leaving to keep the good ship Top Gear afloat.