Chris Evans has signed a 3-year deal to lead an all-new Top Gear line-up on the BBC.
The Radio 2 Breakfast Show host, renowned for his love of cars, has been tipped for the job ever since Jeremy Clarkson left the show in April of this year following a “fracas” with a Top Gear producer.
The DJ, presenter and entrepreneur, who brought back his classic music-based chat show TFI Friday to rave reviews last week on Channel 4, has on several occasions denied his interest in or involvement with Top Gear, although he did admit to Lewis Hamilton during the TFI broadcast: “I did say ‘never,’ but I downgraded it to ‘never say never’.”
Since his initial denials, it appears the lure of messing about with cars on television was too much. But it still remains unclear who his “all-new” presenting line-up will consist of – the “all new” part ruling out any last minute return for former Top Gear frontmen Richard Hammond and James May.
However, Evans has now taken to Twitter to celebrate the former presenters and to confirm that he will remain Radio 2 Breakfast Show host despite the demanding commitments of his new gig.
First tweet as new Top Gear host. I would like to say Jeremy, Richard & James are the greatest. And NO I'm not leaving the R2 Breakfast Show
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) June 16, 2015
It is still not clear what effect making three years of Top Gear will have on Evans’ other major media commitment once a week alongside Alex Jones on The One Show. The announcement may also finally put to bed rumours/ hopes that he is about to announce a regular return of TFI Friday after a brilliant 19th anniversary special on Friday.
Chris Evans said: “I’m thrilled, Top Gear is my favourite programme of all time. Created by a host of brilliant minds who love cars and understand how to make the massively complicated come across as fun, devil-may-care and effortless. When in fact of course, it’s anything but and that’s the genius of Top Gear’s global success.
“I promise I will do everything I possibly can to respect what has gone on before and take the show forward.”
Kim Shillinglaw, controller of BBC2 and BBC4, added: “I am so delighted that Chris will be presenting the next series of Top Gear. His knowledge of and passion for cars are well-known and combined with his sheer inventiveness and cheeky unpredictability he is the perfect choice to take our much-loved show into the future.
“Chris is a huge fan of Top Gear and has great respect for the craft and work ethic of one of the best production teams in the world. He knows the phenomenal attention to detail it takes to make a single sequence of Top Gear, let alone a whole series. He is already full of brilliant ideas and I can’t wait for him to get started.”
Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, said: “It‘s fantastic news for Top Gear fans around the world that such a brilliant broadcaster as Chris will be the figurehead for the brand across the globe.”
Evans began his career on radio in Manchester before moving to London to work on GLR, but it was on television that he became a household name as a presenter of Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast alongside Gaby Roslin. He left in 1994 to form his own production company, Ginger Production, making Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and later TFI Friday. He became Radio 1 Breakfast Show host in 1995 bringing in huge listening figures, and huge controversy in equal measure. He left Radio 1 in 1997 and moved to Virgin Radio after a well-publicised period of turbulence with BBC bosses. He returned to the Beeb on Radio 2 in 2005, and took over the Breakfast Show in 2010.
Production on the new series of Top Gear will begin in the next few weeks.