Top Gear has hit a bit of a roadblock, it seems, because lead presenter Chris Evans is unable to talk and drive.
This is according to a report in the Sun newspaper, which claims Evans is holding up filming by taking as many ten attempts to get his lines right – and the crew is getting frustrated.
A source said familiar with the new Top Gear show said: “Chris is really struggling to master the art of driving and talking to camera, which is crucial. It’s a skill. Jeremy, Richard and James could do it no problem, in one or two takes.
“Chris is in a massive sweat about it because he often ends up fluffing his lines. The professional drivers are doing a lot more to cover for him and the camera crew are getting frustrated.”
The source added: “Things haven’t run smoothly.”
With Top Gear meant to return on the 8th of May 2015, time is of the essence. But a string of setbacks, including reports Evans crashed a new Jaguar during his first day on the Top Gear track in Surrey, are making a delay increasingly likely.
It recently emerged Top Gear executive producer Lisa Clark left for pastures new, even though Evans had made a huge deal of her joining. Series editor Alex Renton has taken over on a temporary basis while a replacement is sourced.
There have also been reports the show’s new team lack the same knowledge of cars and that internal pressure from BBC bigwigs has caused other key departures, with senior staff said to have accused BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw of ‘meddling’ in development.
Evans stepped in after Jeremy Clarkson was removed from the show after punching a producer. Co-stars Richard Hammond and James May followed suit and were subsequently snapped up by Amazon as part of a three-year, three-season deal said to be worth £160million.
The Amazon Prime motoring show, which is currently nameless, is being produced by Andy Wilman, the man who, in conjunction with Clarkson, turned Top Gear into the global powerhouse watched by more than 350million people worldwide.
It is unclear who will join Evans on Top Gear, but it would make sense for a single main presenter (Evans) to be joined by multiple guest contributors to see who works on camera and who doesn’t.
It would also save money, which the BBC is working to achieve (cutbacks to Formula One coverage, anyone?) as part of recently announced cost-cutting initiative.
Update: The BBC has hit back. A spokesperson said the team has been ‘blown away’ by how quickly Evans has taken to driving and talking, adding that it is ‘a skill which has taken some presenters a long time to master’. Now who could that be?