Chris Evans has announced that he is quitting Top Gear.
The BBC presenter says that he is stepping down from the show after just one series, announcing the news on Twitter.
The presenter had signed a three-year deal with the BBC to carry the show forward following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson. However, his first series in charge has seen ratings slide, with the final episode attracting fewer than two million viewers.
RadioTimes.com understands that no new presenter will be brought in to replace Evans, and that while contracts aren’t signed, we are expecting the rest of the presenting line-up including Matt LeBlanc and Sabine Schmitz to stay the same for the next series.
Evans added that he would be continuing with his Radio 2 show and other BBC projects, including Children In Need and the 500 Words Radio 2 storytelling competition.
In a statement from the BBC, Evans said that standing aside would be “the single best thing I can do now.”
“I have never worked with a more committed and driven team than the team I have worked with over the last twelve months,” Evans said.
“I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause. I remain a huge fan of the show, always have been, always will be. I will continue to focus on my radio show and the allied events that it encompasses.”
A statement from Director of BBC Studios Mark Linsey suggested that the decision was Evans’ alone. “Chris is stepping down from his duties on Top Gear,” he said. “He says he gave it his best shot doing everything he could to make the show a success.
“He firmly believes that the right people remain, on both the production team and presenting team to take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be. The new series has so far notched up over 30m views in the UK alone and has already been sold to 130 territories worldwide.”
The Daily Telegraph claimed that the Metropolitan Police are investigating an allegation of “non-recent sexual assault”, following reports that Evans was accused of grabbing the breasts of a female colleague in the 1990s. However, the police statement added, “There have been no arrests and no person has been interviewed under caution.”
The resignation announcement from Top Gear is said to have been planned for some days. Evans is continuing to host his breakfast show as usual, according to The Guardian.
Evans took over Top Gear following the departure of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. He was joined first by co-host Matt LeBlanc, with a further five presenters joining the expanded rolling line-up.
The first episode opened with 4.4 million viewers, although that slipped to 2.8 million viewers in the second week. Subsequent episodes suffered following competition with Euro 2016 in the schedules, with the series finishing on an all-time low of 1.9 million.
Evans consistently claimed that the overnight ratings had “never been less relevant”, but the fall in numbers was described as a “setback” by one senior BBC source during the series.
Filming for the second series of Top Gear is due to begin this September. Contracts are still being negotiated, but a source revealed that the BBC would not be seeking for a replacement for Evans.
Instead, host Matt LeBlanc, racing driver Sabine Schmitz, YouTube star Chris Harris, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan, and motoring journalist Rory Reid will establish their future involvement before the new series begins filming.