This afternoon, on Twitter, Chris Evans announced his resignation from Top Gear after just one series of six episodes. His post stated: “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.” Given the turbulent 12 months since the announcement that he was to replace Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May at the helm of the show is it really any surprise though?
He has received a near-unanimous negative reaction from the off, with scenes shot in close proximity to the Cenotaph in London only adding more fuel to the fire as well as constant grumblings of disharmony behind the scenes.
On top of that, the first and last series of the show with Evans presenting has struggled with some of the worst ratings the show has ever had since its debut in 1977. Only 1.9 million people watched last night’s final episode – pretty abysmal compared to the 7.45 million that watched the show at its peak 10 years ago.
With all this negative press surrounding the show, it seems very likely that Evans jumped before he was pushed. With Top Gear being one of the BBC’s biggest brands worldwide it won’t get cancelled in a hurry but it definitely seems like another big shake-up is afoot.
If the producers listen to fans of the show, it would be a great idea to make it more of an ensemble magazine show than this failed incarnation which just felt like Chris Evans surrounded by a bunch of people barely tolerating him. Under Chris Evans’ watch, it felt like this was just trying too hard to be the Clarkson 2.0 era rather than turning a new leaf, as he spent the time in the studio shouting painfully bad jokes and recycling old material with a new name (a la ‘Star in a Rally-Cross Car’).
For starters, Matt Le Blanc has been one of the highlights of this series, his sarcastic ‘American abroad’ sense of humour being the funniest thing about the show, so it would make sense to try get more screen time from him. It would also make sense to use more of the co-presenters, who were kept largely to the side-lines by Evans.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a shame that it came to this. Chris Evans is a talented, charismatic presenter but taking over Top Gear was always going to be a poisoned chalice. At least he has swallowed his pride and left. Who knows, maybe this will open up enough time in his schedule to go back to doing the brilliant TFI Friday again, which is where he truly shines.
In a time when everyone seems to be quitting their jobs, Chris Evans leaving Top Gear is probably the least surprising but who will be the next high profile resignation? I wouldn’t put my money on Jeremy Corbyn, that’s for sure!