After a single season at the helm, Chris Evans is stepping down from Top Gear. The presenter, which took over from Jeremy Clarkson and his fellow partners in crime, James May and Richard Hammond, said on Twitter: "(I) gave it my best show but sometimes that's not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best." The latest series of Top Gear, which wrapped up last night in the UK, has been battered by low audience figures and scathing reviews, both from critics and fans. Replicating the success of the Clarkson era was always going to be difficult, however, when so much of the show's appeal was attributed to the old presenters.
Still, the BBC has been trying its best. Top Gear is one of its most popular and lucrative shows, with a huge following both domestically and overseas. Simply cancelling the programme was never an option. The team had hoped that Chris Evans' energy would fill some of the void left behind by his predecessors; as a fail-safe, it brought in Friends actor Matt LeBlanc to give the show some much-needed star power. Then, in a deviation from previous seasons, the BBC hired a large cast of supporting presenters: motorsport pundit Eddie Jordan, professional racing driver Sabine Schmitz, and two younger faces, Chris Harris and Rory Reid, who also present the Top Gear spin-off show Extra Gear on BBC iPlayer.
Some of these presenters have worked better than others. Another problem is, arguably, the format of the show -- it's almost unchanged from the Clarkson years, focusing on short documentaries and celebrity laps. They're shot and scripted in a similar fashion to previous seasons, which, while visually impressive, often feel like hollow imitations. "I have never worked with a more committed and driven team than the team I have worked with over the last 12 months," Evans said in a statement. "I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause."
The BBC is left with a huge role to fill for the next season. In the meantime, Clarkson and co are gearing up to launch their new show, The Grand Tour, on Amazon Prime Video. The exact premiere date is unknown, but it's due to kick off this fall -- fans of the troublesome trio will be hoping their attempt is better than what the BBC has shown over the last six weeks.