Acting Controller of BBC Entertainment Commissioning Alan Tyler has felt the need to make a statement about the return of the “all-new” (and by all new we mean exactly the same) Top Gear which relaunched with the admittedly all new presenting line up of Chris Evans and Matt Le Blanc.
After the infamous departure of long term presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond the BBC hoped to continue the series with as much success as before but wholesale criticism of Chris Evans in particular, even before the show made it’s debut, has seen the release of the statement from Tyler.
The statement reads “We are delighted that this was the strongest launch episode of Top Gear since 2013 with 6.4 million tuning in for the first programme of the new series. We are also thrilled that Top Gear was the most watched programme on BBC Two amongst 16-34s last week. Add to this a further 1.75m requests on BBC iPlayer to date, along with the highest audience share for an individual transmission (28.8%) since The Great British Bake Off in 2013, and it is clear that there is plenty to celebrate about the return of the nation’s favourite motoring show.
“Last night, Chris, Matt and the team once again brilliantly led BBC Two’s biggest show of the day, by some margin. It secured a peak audience of 3.3m, and the show again remained the most requested programme on BBC iPlayer.
“With lots more adventures on the way in this new series, including a continental challenge with the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a luxury car contest in Ireland, stunning review films, plenty of power laps and many more great guests taking on the all-new rallycross track, we are looking forward to Chris, Matt and the gang bringing more of the all-new Top Gear to our audiences.”
The statement does reveal much about the pressure the BBC must be under regarding the show. The biggest issue Top Gear faces, and it is definitely an uphill battle, is that the format, which needed to change, simply has not changed one iota. It feels as though Evans is simply reading out Clarkson’s scripts and indeed trying his hardest to out Clarkson Clarkson. Le Blanc is doing his best but it is going to take time for him to settle in.
Luckily the BBC and the Top Gear team have a few months to find their feet before the Clarkson, May and Hammond Amazon Prime series premieres – an event that is going to create a huge amount of publicity. Even better for the former Top Gear trio The Grand Tour (as their series is currently called) will not have any ratings stigma attached to it – streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have no obligation to reveal viewing figures.