Chris Evans' new Top Gear 'will miss' May 8th BBC launch date
Exclusive: RadioTimes.com understands that the motoring reboot will now air on 22nd May and not 8th May as he previously announced - with the number of episodes in the first run cut from eight to just six
Chris Evans will have to wait a little longer to climb into the Top Gear driving seat as the much-anticipated reboot of the BBC's motoring show has been pushed back two weeks.
RadioTimes.com understands that the new series is expected to miss a May 8th premiere announced publicly by Evans in November and will now start airing on Sunday 22nd May on BBC2.
It is also understood that the first run of eight episodes has been cut to six because filming is behind schedule.
Evans has reportedly signed a three-year deal to make sixteen episodes over two years of the new look show.
It is understood the plan was to air eight episodes on a weekly basis starting on 8th May.
Instead the six episodes will air with the new-look team catching up to make the remaining ten at a later date.
The delays have been blamed on a number of factors, according to insiders.
The large presenting line-up of Matt LeBlanc, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan and Rory Reid was not finalised until earlier this month.
According to sources LeBlanc was only hurried into signing his contract after RadioTimes.com contacted the BBC who told the Friends star that news of his recruitment was due to leak.
The decision of executive producer Lisa Clark to leave the show after just five months has also thrown the production into “a certain amount of disarray” say insiders.
Evans’ filming schedule for TFI Friday, which finished at Christmas, is also understood to have delayed his opportunity to begin work in earnest on the new Top Gear.
Earlier this month new presenter Rory Reid, who was selected by open audition, had a car breakdown mid-shoot in Scotland in a section where he raced a vintage Mustang against two modern versions around the remote fishing village of Kylesku near Sutherland.
Other reports from the set have included accounts of Evans having taken time to master the skill of presenting while driving at high speed.
Evans was signed up for the new show after the departure of fan favourite Jeremy Clarkson following his “fracas” incident. Clarkson was quickly followed by co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond and the three of them are now making a new car show for Amazon which is scheduled to air in the autumn.
As RadioTimes.com revealed earlier this month the Top Gear production team is working around the clock to get the show back on BBC2 by May – which is a must.
According to a source, not only are many expensive multi-series contracts in place, but Evans and his team need to get the programme on air in May to sidestep summer TV schedules packed with football's European Championship and the Rio Olympics.
And autumn 2016 is also a no-go because the BBC is desperate to avoid a clash with the new show from Clarkson, May and Hammond on Amazon.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We never confirm scheduling details this far out and we won’t be for Top Gear. We’ve always said we were working towards a May transmission for Top Gear and further detail on the transmission date and series structure will follow nearer the time.”