New Top Gear front man Chris Evans has spoken of the “apocalyptic” atmosphere that had engulfed the show upon his arrival.
Evans as admitted that it was like “Armageddon” in the office, which has just been rocked by the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson, not to mention the departures of Hammond, May and a raft of other senior staff members. Evans told an audience at a meeting of the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California, that only one “lone warrior” – producer Alex Renton, who’s worked on the programme since 2004 – remained when he was brought on-board.
Evans has also conceded that the task of rebuilding the show, and learning the skills needed to helm it, has been a “baptism of fire”, amid claims that he has struggled to master the art of talking to the camera while driving at high speeds. Reproducing the successful Clarkson-Hammond-May era chemistry is another issue. “It was brilliant, there’s no denying it,” he said. “If the old show had never been taken off I’d still be watching it.” In 2015 the show aired in 214 countries around the world, and reportedly earned around £150 million for BBC Worldwide every year.
Evans knows the new trio has a hard act to follow, and emphasised that in his version of the show, “the car is definitely the star”.
“If people came to the show for that [on-screen chemistry], I can’t give them that right away,” he said. “I can only give them the best show that I can produce about cars.
“I hope that [camaraderie] will develop but I’d be crazy to think it will happen right away.”