Top Gear loses nearly half its viewers as overnight ratings fall to lowest in 13 years

Host Chris Evans has defended the show and argued that overnight viewing figures 'have never been less relevant'

Jess Denham
Monday 13 June 2016 12:25
Chris Evans has come under fire for being 'too shouty' after taking over from Jeremy Clarkson as Top Gear host
Chris Evans has come under fire for being 'too shouty' after taking over from Jeremy Clarkson as Top Gear host

Top Gear has lost nearly half its viewers in just two weeks, with the motoring show attracting its smallest live audience in more than a decade on Sunday.

Despite much warmer reactions to the third episode on social media, only 2.37 million viewers tuned in compared to 2.8 million last week and its launch audience of 4.3 million last month.

New host Chris Evans has suffered the bulk of the criticism after taking over from Jeremy Clarkson, with the 50-year-old accused of being “shouty” and, most recently, ridiculed for being sick on a fast-paced ride around the Top Gear track with racing driver Sabine Schmitz.

Top Gear’s ratings are expected to increase when catch-up figures from fans watching online are taken into account but will likely still fall behind the numbers Clarkson and his co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May pulled in. The lowest ever rating for Top Gear was reportedly 2.36 million in 2003, according to an industry source cited by the Guardian.

Evans has firmly defended Top Gear from a mauling, arguing on his Twitter account recently that “overnight television viewing figures have never been less relevant but newspapers prefer to live in the past”. The previous week, he responded to critics by quoting overnight figures and 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.”

Soon after, the BBC released new figures claiming consolidated figures for episode one showed 8.15 million people (including 1.75 million on iPlayer) had watched it.

Evans is yet to comment on the most recent figures.

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