Lead presenter Chris Evans has revealed his backup name for Top Gear while likening its old cast of Clarkson, Hammond and May to “Zippy, Bungle and George”.
Speaking in his The Mail on Sunday column in the Event magazine, the BBC Radio 2 presenter said: “That Car Show would have been a good title.” He also mentioned “Carmageddon” as another contender.
“I would have retitled Top Gear had Zippy, Bungle and George announced some irretrievable divine right over the original name,” he added, referring to characters from the popular children’s show, Rainbow.
Evans used the same article to fight back against claims he is a diva: “Just a small point here – we don’t actually have a set yet for me to misbehave on. Not only has it not been built, but we have only just signed off the final design.”
Evans has been under increasing pressure to keep the Top Gear ship on course. Executive producer Lisa Clark – who he worked with on The Big Breakfast – quit early on and Evans was then caught throwing up after going for a drive in an Audi R8 with fellow presenter Sabine Schmitz at the wheel.
To make matters worse, there were reports Evans was unable to talk and drive, which would make being a presenter on a car show somewhat difficult. The BBC hit back, saying the claim was nonsense.
The latest furore happened after Matt LeBlanc performed doughnuts near the Cenotaph war memorial in London, sparking criticism it was disrepectful. Evans was quick to apologise for the stunt, which he was “mortified” about, and said it would be binned.
Speaking to BBC news at the time, he said: “That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it. We’re all mortified by it, so absolutely, one hundred percent, it should not be shown.”
There have been reports the BBC is unhappy that Top Gear is costing an extra £200,000 per episode, taking the total to £650,000, and the fact its delay means it could clash with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s Amazon Prime motoring show.
Clarkson was pushed out of the world-famous BBC 2 motoring show after punching producer Oisin Tymon. He later paid £100,000 in compensation and apologised profusely for the damage caused.
Amazon is reportedly paying the ex-Top Gear trio around £160 million to create a rival motoring show. Most recently, the crew was filming in Barbados and, before that, Cobham in Surrey where Clarkson was seen behind the wheel of an off-road Mercedes convertible.
Top Gear is set to return towards the end of May, 2016, complete with seven hosts (if you include untalkative Stig). Recombu Cars editor-in-chief Rory Reid is among them – here’s what you need to know about him.
Evans will be well aware of the pressure on his shoulders to step into Clarkson’s sizable shoes, but the level of criticism thus far seems a tad unfair. It’s not even aired yet and surely there’s room for more than one motoring show on TV?