Top Gear: BBC defends Chris Evans show after 'fake' audience laughter claims

One audience member claimed: 'It sounded as though we were in fits of hysterics'

Chris Evans with Matt LeBlanc on the set of Top Gear in the first episode of the revamped series
Chris Evans with Matt LeBlanc on the set of Top Gear in the first episode of the revamped series

In the weeks running up to the rebooted Top Gear, numerous sources have spoken negatively about the show’s production, one recently claiming that ‘unimpressed’ audience members ‘left filming early'.

Unfortunately, the first episode did little to disprove these claims; viewers at home were left disappointed by the show, despite Chris Evans stating the ‘FACTS’ prove it was a success.

In a recent report by The Daily Telegraph, the paper stated leaked BBC audience data shows they received 370 complaints about the relaunch, making it the “worst programme on terrestrial television last weekend”.

Audience data allegedly showed the programme had an appreciation index of 60, considered poor as the average for BBC2 programmes over the same weekend was 82.

New Top Gear series clips

Another negative report came from The Sun, claiming fake laughter was added to the show in post-production. One audience member told the tabloid: “The episode made it sound as though we were in fits of hysterics throughout the recording, but that is far from the truth.”

The BBC has since defended the show, denying there were “awkward silences during filming as reported by The Sun newspaper, which clearly has an agenda against the show.

“It’s well known that Top Gear isn’t a live programme and that the show is edited after filming, but last week’s episode was edited in exactly the same way as previous series.”

A spokesperson added: “Sunday marked the beginning of a new era for Top Gear, which Chris and Matt kicked off in style and viewing figures have been growing steadily since broadcast.”

Viewing figures released prove the programme to be somewhat a success: despite only 4.4 million people watching live (Jeremy Clarkson’s last Top Gear ended on 5.8 million viewers), with catch-up included the number has passed 6.2 million, so claims the BBC.

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UPDATE: The BBC has released updated figures, a spokesperson saying: "Consolidated figures for episode one so far are 8.15 million (including 1.75m on iPlayer)"

The show was the most watched programme on TV in its 8pm slot, beating out stiff competition from the Antiques Roadshow.

Meanwhile, the first filming location for Clarkson, May and Hammond’s new Amazon Prime show - The Grand Tour - has been announced.

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