Chris Evans has joked that he is preparing for the worst when the new Top Gear hits our screens at the end of the month.
However he has also hit back against his critics, saying he has had enough of the “mud-slinging” of “weasels” and “malcontents” ahead of the new show which has been beset by controversy even before it has aired.
“I have no idea what it is that’s driving these malcontents to stoop so low, but I wish them well with their inner demons,” he writes in his Mail on Sunday column, adding that “some people in my business” would prefer him “to be shot on sight”.
“I think we can all agree that some people in my business would currently prefer me/my career/preferably both to be shot on sight rather than taken in for further questioning.
‘It’s clear, even to a deaf, dumb and blind person, that in their considered opinion, I thoroughly deserve to be six feet under and the sooner the better.”
He adds: “As a consequence of the mud-slinging, I have taken to daily, contemplative soaks in the bath-tub of ‘worst-case scenario’. I am a realist hoping for the best, while preparing for potential imminent career death.”
Still, he jokes that if he does fall flat with the new show he “could apply for a correspondence course in becoming an international hitman”.
“To anyone getting grief from untalented weasels in our industry, whose only role in life has evolved into peddling slander about others in order to extend their otherwise moribund existence, STEP ASIDE, ALLOW ME.”
However he also aims barbs at his Top Gear predecessors Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, adding that their new Amazon show will give them “‘ten times the cash but a fraction of the audience”.
Top Gear has been hit by reports – denied by both parties – of internal rows between Evans and new host Matt LeBlanc and the controversial scenes shot near the Cenotaph war memorial, for which the BBC issued a groveling apology.
The BBC is also understood to have spent large sums on the new show, including a refurbishment of the show’s race track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. One estimate puts the upgrade at a cost of £250,000.
It was also hit with delays. A provisional 22nd May premiere date was pencilled in but the broadcast of the new show has now been delayed by a further week.
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.
As RadioTimes.com exclusively revealed in February, the planned first run has been cut from eight to six episodes because of production difficulties.
It is thought the international release is designed to introduce new host Evans to the world – especially in 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 forced to pay back money spent on promotional TV spots.