BBC defends Top Gear debut amid viewer criticism


The BBC has defended the new look Top Gear after it was heavily criticised on social media and drew under-performing ratings.

The opening episode was the lowest-rating series launch for almost a decade.

It drew an average audience of 4.4m UK viewers – the lowest figure since July 2006, when 3.9m tuned in to watch the seventh episode of the eighth series.

Evans said last week he would be ‘disappointed’ if the show attracted under 5 million viewers.

“If we had to guess about the number of viewers we are going to get on Sunday night, you have got to say you would be disappointed if it was under 5 million. Five million-plus would be great, after that it doesn’t matter,” he said at the time.

Alan Tyler, Acting Controller Entertainment Commissioning said: “Chris and Matt have successfully kicked off a whole new era in style and we are really looking forward to bringing our audiences even more thrills as the series continues.”

But hundreds of viewers took to the Top Gear official website to voice criticisms about Evans shouting and the show being very scripted. On social media it also copped a hiding branded everything from “boring” to “diabolical.”

On Twitter Chris Evans hit back.

However, the BBC Two motoring show was still the most-watched programme in the 8pm time slot, beating Antiques Roadshow on BBC One and the British Soap Awards on ITV.

In Australia the show drew 42,000 on BBC Knowledge.

Source: Mirror, Telegraph


  1. HardcorePrawn

    I’m not convinced: the trip to Blackpool in three-wheelers seemed pointless, and just fizzled out. I thought that the previous mob would’ve made a much bigger deal out of it, and probably not sat on the back of a truck when one of the cars broke down.
    Likewise, the ‘dogfight’ between the two US muscle cars, it just petered out when one of the pilots threw up, so no clear conclusion was made as to which car/driver “won”.
    And why did they even bother with Jesse Eisenberg? He clearly has no interest in cars, and seemed bewildered to be there. That “best car” segment when he had to talk about a Porsche that he once sat in for a few seconds was excruciating. Ramsay on his own would have been far more entertaining.
    That said, Matt LeBlanc was good with poor material (again, like his show Joey!), and, for me, his review of the off-roader was the best bit.

  2. Secret Squïrrel

    I thought it was alright. Didn’t hate Evans but he could tone it down a bit. Bit odd for people to say that he shouts too much. Were they out of the room when Clarkson was speaking?

    Thought Le Blanc was really good and loved Schmitz (but who doesn’t?). Don’t mind two guests but agree that it was awkward having two completely unrelated people who didn’t know anything about the other.

    It’s the first ep (not the 23rd as Evans says in his tweet) of what is effectively a new show (new producer, too). I think we should give it a couple more weeks to find it’s own place and identity.

  3. Rory,the guy who hosted Extra Gear,would be a better host of TG than Evans.Evans just yelled.
    LeBlanc wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be,but we need more Sabine.She knows her stuff.

  4. I had a quick look at last season’s ratings and it averaged around mid 50000s on Foxtel (varied a bit week to week from high 40s to low 60s). So while 42k yesterday is a bit disappointing for Foxtel considering the amount of advertising they put in for the premiere, it’s not a disaster.

    Also worth noting BBC Knowledge no longer do a ‘live’ broadcast of the show early Monday morning as they did last season, only the 8:30pm broadcast.

  5. I didn’t watch the Extra Gear show but it seems to have all the irreverent stuff that would have been in the normal show with Clarkson and Co. Agree that Chris needs to relax a bit (less shouting) and Matt was by far the better host. He was genuinely funny. Chris actually reminded me of Grant Denyer a little – he can get quite shouty and high pitched sometimes. Good to mix up the track with the new rally elements, but, yes, just have one guest. Overall, I think they have struck the right balance in keeping the same general feel of the show. They could even introduce more of their own thing to make their mark (Just not the two guests thing!).

  6. I thought it was just ok and will watch again next week. I don’t really know much about the host Chris Evans as I haven’t seen him on our tv but I really liked Matt, he seemed more relaxed and comfortable as a co host.

    Also looking forward to Hammond, Clarkson and May returning with there new show.

  7. Oh (and sorry for multiple comments) and the two unrelated guests thing was just really weird and awkward. If you want two guests, either have them so they know each other or have worked on something together, or have each separately at different points of the show, the Ramsey Eisenberg thing was just really awkward…

  8. Chris Evans was painful!!! Oh just stop shouting and stop trying to be so “on” and be a little more natural. Matt LeBlanc actually surprised me – thought he was a standout – maybe because the pressure isn’t on him to be similar to the previous hosts (or he just refuses to). The US/UK thing was a little amusing but I’m hoping that doesn’t become a really regular thing. Friends and family who were also watching it hated Evans, phrases being passed around on our Facebook chats included “who wants to punch the ginger really hard”, “car crash, but ironically no cars have crashed yet”, “Are you freaking kidding me, there’s another half hour to go?” and “I want to kick him til he’s dead” (that’s a Karen Walker from Will and Grace quote, guys, don’t take it too seriously!!)…

  9. I doubt it would have mattered what the BBC did, the hardcore “Clarkson” fans were going to hate the new Top Gear on principle. I bet if the same program had been done with the old presenters, this wild social media complaining wouldn’t be happening. Then again, these are the same people who think a TV presenter should be allowed to physically assault his producer without consequence – so who knows how their minds work!

  10. I found it to be too much like the old show, but without the hosts I know and love, so it just seemed very strange. I thought there would be more changes. Regardless I have to agree regarding Evans, he didn’t work for me either. Matt on the hand seemed more natural and entertaining.

    Extra Gear was terrible I thought, the hosts seemed somewhat stiff and the format flat. It was a sort of documentary of the main show and lacked something. I didn’t know who the two hosts were which didn’t help and it was the first time seeing the new format so it may take some time to adjust.

    After watching both shows I walked away thinking it was okay, but really I just want to see Hammond, Clarkson and May!

  11. It was alright but nothing better than that, Evans was shouting too much and didn’t really gel as host. Of course it should improve in time but I suspect a lot of the viewers will drop off with the curiosity value dropping off after the premiere.

    The companion program Extra Gear was actually very good though, much more laid back and informative and the hosts also had better chemistry.

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