WORK BEGINS TO MEND SHOW POST CHRIS EVANS, SAYS PATRICK FOSTER
The BBC is considering a raft of radical changes to the next series of Top Gear, including the promotion of two junior presenters and the introduction of a regular celebrity road trip, as it tries to rescue the show from the disastrous Chris Evans era.
The corporation is advertising for a new series producer, who, according to a job description , must be able to “manage their own emotions in the face of pressure”, as executives face the challenge of fixing the botched relaunch of the show. Barely a week has passed since Evans quit Top Gear, after the show’s audience sank to just 1.9 million viewers, but senior figures are already considering a series of proposals to revive the programme.
Executives have decided to scrap the popular Christmas specials, in which the show’s previous presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May carried out extended road trips across a foreign country.
Instead, the corporation is targeting a return to BBC Two in the northern spring, when television audiences are typically higher than in summer. Evans was forced to launch in late May, after the programme’s production fell behind schedule, and ended up clashing with Euro 2016 football matches, which ate into the show’s young male audience.
Executives are planning a low-key overhaul of the production team, in which Evans’ responsibilities as “creative lead” will pass to Alex Renton, the series editor, who has worked on Top Gear for more than a decade.
The BBC is also advertising for a new series producer. Though the corporation has denied tabloid claims that Evans bullied staff, the job description for the role includes the requirement that the successful candidate “proactively offers constructive feedback to others”.
The document says applicants should have the “ability to create a vision and inspire others to realise it irrespective of circumstances”, and must “maintain personal effectiveness by managing their own emotions in the face of pressure, setbacks or when dealing with provocative situations”.
On screen, the BBC is content to develop the presenting team hand-picked by Evans, and the corporation is close to securing Matt LeBlanc to become the international face of the show.
It is understood that presenters were unhappy with the show’s scripts, after just one writer was hired to work on the programme, leading Evans to invite his friend and long-term collaborator, Danny Baker, to join the crew.
One senior figure involved with the show said: “Jeremy Clarkson used to hone, and hone, and hone the script. He was obsessive about it. They over-resourced the technology side, and under-resourced the parts that add finesse.”