Tony Hall: Top Gear under Chris Evans will keep its “sense of danger”

The Director-General of the BBC tells Andrew Marr he had "no idea" about Jeremy Clarkson's claims he was offered he old job back by a BBC executive

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The Director-General of the BBC says he was thrilled when he was told Chris Evans would be the new presenter of Top Gear – and wants the show to keep its “sense of danger”.

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Tony Hall said on The Andrew Marr Show that he had “no idea” about Jeremy Clarkson’s claims that he was offered his old job back, and that as far as he was concerned, “I made it absolutely clear when I said we were going to part company that that was it.”

Hall said he was looking forward to seeing how Evans would reinvent the show, but hoped that it would still appeal to the legions of fans around the world.

“I am thrilled that Chris Evans has got the job,” Hall told presenter Andrew Marr. “I said then [when he made the decision to drop Clarkson] that one of the things we should do is to reinvent the programme, refresh the programme.”

He added that when he heard that Evans had agreed to present the BBC2 show, he sent a message congratulating him: “I sent a note to Chris Evans saying, ‘Congratulations, you were the person I was hoping would do it and you’re doing it’, and I got an email back of all sorts of ideas he had for the programme.

“I think what Jeremy and Chris share in common is they’re both presenters, but they’re also producers. They know what makes a good programme. I think Chris is going to do something very special.”

Clarkson wrote in his column in The Sun on Saturday that a BBC executive had met him last week and asked him whether he was interested in having his old job back. When asked about Clarkson’s claims, Hall replied, “I have no idea what that’s all about,” adding that he made it “absolutely clear” when he dropped Clarkson that there was no chance of him returning to Top Gear.

Instead, the BBC Director-General said he believe Top Gear would keep its “sense of danger” while appealing to new viewers.

“I hope that edge will be there, and I hope that sense of danger is going to be there,” he said. “I hope it really appeals to all the people who liked the old Top Gear, but we can also bring in people who maybe were put off by how the programme was in the past.”

When asked about potential co-presenters, he said, “I’d like to see some women in the presenting team. But look, I also need to leave it to Chris, to the team, Kim Shillinglaw (controller of BBC2) to make up their mind about what they think is going to work best.

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“They’ve got to think about a UK audience, but also a global audience, because this is a global show, a global hit, and it’s important to the money we make from BBC Worldwide.”


Final 75-minute Top Gear special with Jeremy Clarkson has an air date