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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Top Gear’ stalls as ratings plummet; host Chris Evans quits

Associated Press

LONDON – “Top Gear” host Chris Evans announced Monday that he’s quitting the BBC’s flagship car show after just one series.

Evans, 50, who also hosts a popular BBC radio breakfast show, told his 2.31 million Twitter followers: “Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best.”

The adrenaline-fueled car show has struggled to draw a big audience since it was relaunched in May, hosted by Evans and former “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc.

The revamped show attracted just 1.9 million viewers to its season finale on Sunday, down from 5.8 million viewers when outspoken trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were at the helm.

Mark Linsey, director of BBC Studios, says Evans believes that the remaining producing and presenting team will be able to “take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be.”

It’s not yet known whether LeBlanc will stay on for a second series of the show.

Evans and LeBlanc were joined by a string of celebrities throughout the series, including actor “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey and “Absolutely Fabulous” creator Jennifer Saunders. The high-profile guests failed to boost audience ratings.

The rebooted show launched with high hopes of 4.4 million viewers but quickly halved, plummeting to around 2 million viewers for the remainder of the season.

The departure of Evans means more intense scrutiny for a program that has become more than a TV show in Britain. The fine-tuned formula of blokey banter, consumer advice and automotive stunts has made the show a cultural touchstone for car fans.

The BBC claims it is watched by 350 million people around the world.

Clarkson and his fellow presenters left last year after an off-set dustup in which Clarkson punched a producer. The trio will host a new car show, “The Grand Tour,” on Amazon Prime this autumn.