According to the latest statistics, the second episode was watched live by 2.8 million people, a drop from the 4.8 million who tuned in for the first episode.
Chris Evans has since commented on the numbers, posting on Twitter: “The way Top Gear is being viewed is repositioning the way television is consumed. Last week 9 millions [sic] viewers. This week we shall see.
“Overnight television viewing figures for Top Gear have never been less relevant. Obviously, some newspapers prefer to live in the past.”
The previous week, Evans responded to the show’s critics by quoting overnight television figures, writing: “The new Top Gear is a hit. OFFICIALLY. 23 % audience share. 12% MORE than the opening episode of the last series. These are the FACTS.”
Over the weekend, the BBC defended the show after it was claimed fake laughter was added to the show in post-production. One audience member told The Sun: “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 responded by saying there were no “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.”
In a separate report by The Daily Telegraph, it was claimed that leaked BBC audience data showed the broadcaster received 370 complaints about the relaunch, making it the “worst programme on terrestrial television last weekend”.
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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.
Soon after, the BBC released new figures, claiming consolidated figures for episode one showed 8.15 million (including 1.75m on iPlayer) people had watched the episode.
The first episode was the most watched programme on TV in its 8pm slot, beating out stiff competition from 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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