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.