Top Gear drives audience up to 6 million on return

Despite another strong performance from Sunday-night big hitter Call the Midwife, Clarkson and co were back with a bang on BBC2, outgunning ITV and recording their best opening audience for three years


An explosive start to the new series of Top Gear saw the BBC2 motoring-cum-entertainment show rack up peak viewing figures of 6 million last night, recording its best overall opening audience for three years.


Clarkson, Hammond and May blew up some 80s “hot hatches”, drove a tank through a brick wall and smashed up a supermarket in a typically anarchic episode, which drew an average of 5.3 million viewers – a 19.3% audience share (including HD) – between 8pm and 9pm, despite another strong showing from BBC1’s Sunday-night big-hitter Call the Midwife, which averaged 8.89 million (27.7%) in the same slot.

It was the best opening figure for Top Gear in three years, following overnight ratings of 4.7 million last summer and 5.1 million in January 2012.

Now in its 21st series, the BBC2 show even outgunned ITV, with its offerings of All Star Family Fortunes being watched by 4.3 million viewers (16.3%) between 7:45pm and 8:30pm and the Dancing on Ice: Skate Off drawing 4.2 million (15%) between 8:30pm and 9pm.