The original Top Gear trio have kept quiet about the BBC show until now, that is, as one of its ex-presenters let rip how they felt about Chris Evans stepping down.
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were driving into the Piazza dei Signori in Vincenza Italy as part of The Grand Tour, their new Amazon Prime motoring show, which airs in the Autumn of 2016.
An onlooker in the crowd asked May: “How do you feel about Chris Evans standing down?” May, who struggled to contain his delight, replied: “Yeah, very chuffed.”
The same onlooker then asked Clarkson if he had “a message for Chris Evans”, to which Clarkson replied: “Don’t be stupid.” He can then be seen grinning like a Cheshire Cat before attempting to grab the smartphone used to video the exchange.
The Daily Mail report claims Clarkson is extremely happy about the news. “Jeremy’s been trying to keep quiet about it, but he’s pleased as punch,” an unnamed cameraman said.
“He’s kept his mouth shut about Evans the whole time, and now Evans has hung himself by his own rope without Jeremy getting involved. It’s ironic because Evans was a massive Top Gear fan, but he’s ruined it for himself by taking the top job on the show,” the source added.
The ex-Top Gear trio were mobbed as they entered the famous square in Italy, thanks to Clarkson tweeting earlier in the day: “People of Italy. James, Richard and I will be filming in Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza tomorrow at 3pm. Come along.
Commenting on the mob created by Clarkson, the source added: “It’s the sort of thing Chris Evans has done in the past. It’s competitive tweeting, basically. It’s all just a big ego trip.”
Allegedly the crew of The Grand Tour said this was Clarkson’s way of revelling in the demise of Evans, but it is more likely just a marketing stunt to drum up support for the show, which has cost Amazon a reported £160 million.
Clarkson and company reportedly turned up an hour late and were greeted by thousands of fans, which was said to be comprised young men, teenage girls and young women.
Some onlookers declared their love of Clarkson. 21-year-old Valentina De Liberato said: “I used to watch Top Gear when Clarkson was in it, but now I don’t follow it because I don’t know the presenter.
“I don’t understand why they have come to Vicenza. It’s not a big city. Turin is more famous for cars, with Fiat for example.”
Elizabeth Theuer added: “[Clarkson] doesn’t care about how he looks and he doesn’t care what people think. The new Top Gear is no good. Chris Evans didn’t fit with the show and he was trying too hard. I didn’t like him. Clarkson has the sex appeal.”
Evans had been criticised very heavily for his ‘shouty’ performance on Top Gear and that he and co-star Matt LeBlanc (of sitcom Friends fame) had no chemistry ─ the very thing attributed to the huge success of Clarkson, Hammond and May.
It helped little that viewing figures only went up once over the whole series, starting out as fairly impressive but dropping to just 1.9-million for the sixth and final episode. A clash with Euro 2016 was said to be part of the problem, although more than three million still tuned in for Antiques Roadshow.
Evans, who only managed one season, eventually announced he was quitting on Twitter. He tweeted: “Stepping down from Top Gear. Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. I feel like my standing aside is the single best thing I can now do to help the cause.”
Meanwhile Clarkson, Hammond and May’s DriveTribe motoring content platform is coming to life as it has begun looking for ‘automotive enthusiasts’ to contribute content. Its launch is likely to coincide with The Grand Tour.
As for Top Gear without Evans? The BBC held a big meeting today about the future of show and how it will continue on for series 24. The outcome of the meeting is currently unknown.
Update: Clarkson has since called the Daily Mail report “utter horse****” and that he has video proof the quotes from the cameraman were made up. Other reports have suggested May misheard the question about Chris Evans, to which he replied “very chuffed”, but this is unclear.
Clarkson tweeted: “The mail online’s report of what happened in Italy today is utter utter horseshit. Whoever wrote it should be ashamed of themselves.” He did, however, admit the Daiy Mail at least got the colour of his Aston Martin correct (orange, not brown).