Chris Evans backtracks after BBC puts brakes on female Top Gear host

There will be a "female presence" but not necessarily a woman co-presenting because there are "no gender diktats" according to BBC2 boss Kim Shillinglaw

Only yesterday Chris Evans confirmed that Top Gear’s all-new line-up would “definitely, 100%” include a female co-host. Now the car show’s newly appointed frontman has hit reverse and said there will be a female “presence” but not necessarily a co-presenter.


“There’ll definitely be a female presence on the show and that could well be a co-presenter,” Evans said on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show this morning. “It could be two. It could be no co-presenters and a film reporter or a driver. It’s all a big open book.”

His handbrake turn comes after BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw qualified comments made yesterday by her new frontman, explaining that there will be “no gender diktats”. 

“It will be about what’s right for the show,” she told Steve Hewlett on Radio 4’s The Media Show on Wednesday afternoon. “I have never in my life thought about an individual show in terms of gender diktats and I certainly wouldn’t start doing that now.”

Evans had said that he will be joined by a female co-host on Radio 5 Live earlier in the day. “I can confirm that definitely, 100%,” he told listeners. Asked by presenter Nicky Campbell whether one of his co-presenters will be a woman, he said: “absolutely, but not for the sake of it”.

Top Gear’s new host also revealed yesterday that there will auditions to find his co-presenters. On his Radio 2 show this morning, he explained that applicants will need to post a 30-second video of themselves talking about cars to a website that will be unveiled tomorrow, but there is “no guarantee we’re going to definitely have a member of the public hosting a show.”

He added: “It’ll only happen if that person is suitable and any good. But it’s not a stunt. We’re not doing it just to rabble rouse to get publicity for the show.”

The story so far:

Chris Evans: “I can confirm 100% will have a female” Top Gear presenter

Chris Evans: We’ll audition to find Top Gear co-hosts – and not just famous people

Chris Evans signs 3-year deal to front new Top Gear presenting line-up

Why Chris Evans is the perfect man for the Top Gear job


James May and Richard Hammond present their final ever Top Gear – without Jeremy Clarkson