Poor ratings put more pressure on host Chris Evans
Top Gear attracted what is believed to be its smallest ever live audience in the UK this week, after losing nearly half of its viewers in two weeks since the programme’s relaunch.
Only 2.4million viewers tuned in to the third episode of the revamped BBC2 motoring show, which is significantly down by almost two million from its launch audience a fortnight ago of 4.3million.
The latest viewing figure - which is also a big drop from last week’s audience of 2.8million - will put more pressure on new host Chris Evans, who has faced criticism since taking over the show. The third episode of the series, screened in the UK on Sunday night, will screen here on Prime, this Sunday.
Evans found himself having to get out of an Audi R8 V10 in yesterday’s episode to be sick with his hands on his knees after feeling queasy while being driven around by racing driver Sabine Schmitz.
But absent from last night’s episode was the controversial footage of Matt LeBlanc performing stunts around the Cenotaph, which Evans branded ‘disrespectful’ and said he would not want aired.
Viewers did get to watch the rest of LeBlanc's London tour in racing driver Ken Block's ‘Hoonicorn’, Rory Reid test the new Ford Focus RS and Chris Harris attempt to tackle Ferrari's F12 TDF.
Comedian Kevin Hart tackled the Stars in a Rally Cross Car challenge, and explained that his first car was a gift from his older brother Robert that he knew his single mother Nancy could never afford.
During the episode last night, Evans was criticised again for being sick, with one viewer tweeting: 'Chris, are you going to be sick every time you go fast? It's kind of annoying.'
Another wrote: 'Every person who's been on Top Gear so far would make a better presenter than Chris Evans! Who gets sick driving fast and presents a car show?’
Meanwhile the Daily Mirror reported how others joked that the new series was much better without Evans, with one tweeting: ‘Honestly, excluding Chris Evans Top Gear really was third time lucky.’
And a different viewer wrote: ‘Top Gear... with less Chris Evans, well done, you listened.’ Another fan added: "Massive improvement for Top Gear tonight. Actually enjoyed it!
HOW TOP GEAR IS LOSING UK VIEWERS
Episode one (May 29): 4.3million viewers; 21% audience share
Episode two (June 5): 2.8million viewers; 14% audience share
Episode three (June 12): 2.4million viewers; 10% audience share
Sunday night’s audience of 2.37million, revealed by the Daily Telegraph's media correspondent Patrick Foster, is believed to be roughly level with the lowest ever rating for the previous incarnation of Top Gear in 2003.
The BBC2 show was competing with the Ukraine v Germany football match in Euro 2016 on BBC1 and Coronation Street on ITV1, while Channel 4 was showing Penelope Keith at Her Majesty's Service.
While the BBC’s football coverage averaged 6.3million viewers, Coronation Street got 4.8million viewers plus another 933,000 on HD, reported Radio Times.
And last night’s Top Gear had an audience share of 10 per cent – compared to 14 per cent for the second episode and 21 per cent for the first episode.
Top Gear's audience figures are expected to grow when consolidated with the numbers of those watching online, but still lag far behind the numbers the programme's old guard used to pull in.
Evans said earlier this month: ‘The way Top Gear is being viewed is repositioning the way television is consumed. Overnight television viewing figures for Top Gear have never been less relevant.’
The 50-year-old presenter has been under intense scrutiny since he agreed to take over the show, and has been panned by viewers for being 'too shouty' and behaving like 'an embarrassing dad'.
He was named as the show's new presenter last year, following the departure of controversial frontman Jeremy Clarkson after what was described as a 'fracas' with producer Oisin Tymon.
It was revealed that the row, which happened in a Yorkshire hotel, took place because no hot food was provided following a day's filming.
His dismissal prompted a mass walkout as Richard Hammond, James May and Andy Wilman, the executive producer and old school friend of Clarkson, all resigned.
Since the incident, Clarkson, May and Hammond have gone on to sign a deal for a new Amazon Prime motor show with a reported budget of £160million