About a year ago, we reported that Chris Evans would be taking over as host of the newly revamped Top Gear, making American readers burst with confusion in the brief seconds before they realized we weren’t talking about Chris Evans, the star of Captain America. No, we were talking about the Chris Evans across the pond—the Chris Evans of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, a BBC Radio 2 program, i.e., the Chris Evans with red hair and glasses. That Evans took over as host for the BBC’s popular, long-running driving show after former host Jeremy Clarkson departed in the wake of an alleged physical altercation with a producer. And now, in an incredibly fast change of course, Evans has announced that he too will be hitting the road. According to Deadline, after just one season as host of the BBC Two rebooted series, Evans is leaving Top Gear.
Top Gear’s producers confusingly also tapped Matt LeBlanc as one of Evan’s co-hosts back in February. The new Top Gear has had poor ratings, debuting to 4.4 million in the overnights in May and then concluding with a season finale that averaged just 1.9 million. Captain America’s Chris Evans received the brunt of the backlash against the revamped show, as haters took to Twitter to complain and incorrectly tagged @chrisevans instead of @achrisevans.
The host’s departure doesn’t really come as a surprise. According to Deadline, there have been reports of some on-set drama between Evans and LeBlanc, so maybe LeBlanc said “how you doin’?” one too many times for Evans’ liking. The BBC is negotiating with LeBlanc to keep him around for next season, presumably in hopes that he can save a dying franchise. Meanwhile, Top Gear USA, the stateside iteration of the franchise, was canceled last week by History. There’s really no way to put a positive spin on it: Top Gear has been running on fumes.
Evans announced the parting of ways via his Twitter account:
“I have never worked with a more committed and driven team than the team I have worked with over the last twelve months,” Evans continued. “I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause. I remain a huge fan of the show, always have been, always will be. I will continue to focus on my radio show and the allied events that it encompasses.”
BBC Studios released an official statement, in which director Mark Linsey tried to bolster confidence in the series even after all of these changes.
“Chris is stepping down from his duties on Top Gear. He says he gave it his best shot doing everything he could to make the show a success. He firmly believes that the right people remain, on both the production team and presenting team to take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be.”
Linsey also painted the show’s wavering ratings in a much more positive light: “The new series has so far notched up over 30M views in the UK alone and has already been sold to 130 territories worldwide.”
Amid the drama, former Top Gear presenters Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond are moving forward with their upcoming Amazon series The Grand Tour, which despite its new title and new home, looks and sounds a lot like Top Gear. Maybe the streaming service can recapture some of the original franchise’s former glory.