Chris Evans is leaving the original Top Gear TV show which airs on BBC Two in UK and BBC America, stateside, after only one season (the program’s 23rd). Has the Top Gear TV franchise stalled? The US version of Top Gear was unceremoniously cancelled by the History channel, last week; it will be shopped to other outlets.
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May left the UK series at the end of season 22. Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Eddie Jordan, Sabine Schmitz, and automobile journalists Chris Harris and Rory Reid were featured in the most recent season, with, of course, anonymous test-driver, the Stig.
Mark Linsey, Director, BBC Studios on Top Gear said in a statement, “Chris is stepping down from his duties on Top Gear. He says he gave it his best shot doing everything he could to make the show a success. He firmly believes that the right people remain, on both the production team and presenting team to take the show forward and make it the hit we want it to be. The new series has so far notched up over 30m views in the UK alone and has already been sold to 130 territories worldwide.”
Evans originally announced his departure on Twitter, saying, “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.”
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.
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) July 4, 2016
In a BBC press release, Evans added, “I have never worked with a more committed and driven team than the team I have worked with over the last twelve months. I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause. I remain a huge fan of the show, always have been, always will be. I will continue to focus on my radio show and the allied events that it encompasses.”
The news comes along with reports that Evans is under investigation by London police, for alleged sexual assault in the 1990s. Here is more, from The Wrap:
British police are investigating allegations of sexual assault against TV personality Chris Evans, who stepped down on Monday as the host of BBC’s car-themed series “Top Gear.”
Evans, who will continue to host a morning radio program for the national broadcaster, will likely be interviewed for what authorities called “an allegation of non-recent sexual assault” filed in May, according to reports. Evans was not identified by name in the initial police statement.
Detectives also confirmed the allegations were brought by a woman, and that the incident took place in the 1990s in an East London neighborhood.
News of the investigation was first reported by NewsCorp blog Heat Street, which has written extensively about Evans and allegations of abuse and harassment throughout his career.
One report alleged that Evans exposed himself to a female colleague nearly every day for two years, though the individual is quoted anonymously. Evans’ former business partner and on-air sidekick John Revell openly called him a bully, citing a temper that would reduce underlings to tears, all enabled by executives at the BBC.
Deadline‘s report on Evans’ departure from Top Gear mentions rumors of on-set “tensions” between Evans and LeBlanc.
Evans tweeted, “Just been on the phone to @Matt_LeBlanc to confirm we are “at war” as reported in The Sun today. He says, “sure, whatever..” Why I oughta!”
Just been on the phone to @Matt_LeBlanc to confirm we are "at war" as reported in The Sun today. He says, "sure, whatever.." Why I oughta !
— Chris Evans (@achrisevans) April 13, 2016
Less than an hour later, LeBlanc tweeted, “I’m at war with @achrisevans? That’s funny, I thought we were pals.”
I'm at war with @achrisevans ?
That's funny , I thought we were pals.
— Matt LeBlanc (@Matt_LeBlanc) April 13, 2016
No replacement for Evans has been named. When we know, you will. File this under: Is Top Gear bottoming out?
What do you think? Are you a fan of the original Top Gear (UK) TV series on BBC America and BBC Two? Is it time for the motor vehicle enthusiast show to roll off to the garage, or is there still gas in the tank? Let us know, below.