Chris Evans wants the new look Top Gear to be the very best and the BBC is understood to have spent large sums on the refurbishment of the show’s race track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey for the big reveal.
According to show insiders, the changes to the circuit where guests test their driving mettle as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car have been costly, with one estimate from an informed source indicating that the upgrade has cost £250,000.
The track has been “super-sized” along with various other modifications, according to sources.
The budget for the show is understood to be “considerably larger” than previous years when it was presented by Jeremy Clarkson.
A provisional 22nd May premiere date was pencilled in but the broadcast of the new show has now been delayed by a further week.
According to a source, BBC2 bosses don’t want Top Gear to clash with Britain’s Got Talent on ITV, which adds a Sunday edition that weekend, and the first show will now air on 29th May with a planned worldwide simulcast.
It is understood the current plan is to broadcast the first episode simultaneously in up to 50 countries across Australia, Africa and the Middle East at the same time as the UK. This is not he first time the show has done this, having done the same with the series 22 opener in 2015.
It is thought the international release is designed to introduce new host Evans to the world – especially America where he is a virtual unknown.
However the delays in the transmission are said to have meant that the distributors of the show, BBC Worldwide, have been hit in the pocket. According to sources, Worldwide has had to pay back money spent on promotional TV spots.
The show was also undermined this week by former Top Gear presenter Tiff Needell saying that it will not be as successful as it was under Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
Needell made the comments during a panel session at Advertising Week Europe yesterday, telling the audience that the new show “won’t sustain the same audience as the old Top Gear.”
The British racing driver and television presenter said that Top Gear would lose its audience due to its new hosts being too “bubbly”.
“It will be like [BBC’s] The One Show on wheels,” Needell said. “All bubbly jubbly… they won’t get the same numbers.”
A BBC spokeswoman did not comment on the claims about Dunsfold or its cost. On the subject of the 29th May air date she said: “We have always said we will launch in May and full scheduling details will be announced in due course.”
A BBC Worldwide spokesman said that it didn’t “have information from all our international broadcaster partners about when they intend to schedule the new series of Top Gear.”
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