In Brief

Has Top Gear returned to its former glory?

Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris head to Oman in what critics call 'one of the season's best' road trips

Top Gear: Matt LeBlanc not sure if he will return

11 August

The first series of Top Gear in the post-Jeremy Clarkson era was widely regarded as a failure.

However, there was one bright spot amid the controversies, the critical drubbing and the plummeting ratings - new host Matt LeBlanc.

Audiences warmed to his easy-going charm and petrol heads appreciated his knowledge of and appreciation for cars.

And when Chris Evans quit, LeBlanc appeared in pole position to take over the steering wheel.

But will the former Friends star be back for another season?

In an interview with television critics in Los Angeles, LeBlanc said he was keen to return for another series of the motoring show, but is not sure if he will.

“I don't know," he said, when asked if he was returning. "I’d like to. There’s nothing officially happening yet. Follow the BBC."

Evans has already said LeBlanc was the "captain" the programme needed to win back viewers.

He has also said LeBlanc and Top Gear "were made for each other", The Herald newspaper reports.

Top Gear is scheduled to resume in 2017.

Top Gear 'nightmare' doesn't spoil Chris Evans's love of cars

10 August

Chris Evans has been keeping a relatively low profile since his time at the helm of Top Gear came to a spluttering end after just one season, but his affection for cars does not appear to have been dented after he was photographed this week driving a Rolls Royce Corniche.

The DJ was spotted in London driving the classic car after finishing his Radio 2 show.

Evans's short reign as the lead presenter of one of the BBC's best-loved programmes was dogged by rumours of infighting, hit by scandal and ultimately became a ratings disaster.

Top Gear began respectably enough with 4.3 million viewers, but that had fallen to 2.34 million viewers by the show's fourth episode. The previous record low was 2.36 million viewers on 15 June 2003.

Evans was widely criticised throughout the show's run, with former fans declaring him "too shouty" and ridiculing him for being sick after being thrown around a track in an Audi R8 V10 by German racing driver Sabine Schmitz.        

According to the Daily Mirror, Evans's wife, Natasha, has been helping him through a low period following the conclusion of the show.

"Sports psychology expert Natasha is using her skills to help him through the 'mental torture' of recent months," the paper says. "The star's torment has included Top Gear backfiring, being at the centre of a police probe over historical sex abuse claims, worries over illness and losing his Radio 2 listeners in droves."

One of Evans's "pals" reportedly told the paper: "By his own admission Chris has gone through a total nightmare these past months and Natasha has helped him cope."

Schmitz and the rest of the show's hosts, Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan are set to return in 2017, the Daily Express says.

Chris Evans: Sex assault case dropped

29 July

Chris Evans, the TV and radio presenter, will not face charges after police decided to drop their investigation into sexual assault claims from the 1990s.

Evans is believed to have been interviewed by the Met Police's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command yesterday in east London. After the encounter, the Met decided to drop the investigation because there was "insufficient evidence".

Evans had previously called the allegations "ridiculous" and a "witch hunt", says The Sun. Evans had been accused of bullying a former colleague who rejected his sexual advances, says the newspaper.

The presenter's agent, Michael Foster, said: "The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that the complaint has been investigated, but it fails to meet the evidential test to warrant any further action. Case is dropped."

A statement from the Met Police read: "An allegation of non-recent sexual assault was made to police on Monday, 23 May 16. The allegation was made by a woman against a man. It related to incidents in Tower Hamlets in the 1990s.

"The matter was investigated by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. Today, Thursday 28 July 2016, a man in his 50s was interviewed under caution by police at an East London police building.

"The decision was made by the police that there was insufficient evidence to proceed."

The news comes after a bad week for Evans, who was photographed urinating at the side of the M4 and swigging brandy from a bottle, as the Daily Mail reported.

A few days later, he was seen sitting alone outside a north London pub reading a self-help book. A source told the Daily Mirror that Evans "does not have a drink problem" but regretted the public urination.

Evans resigned as the host of the BBC's new, post-Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear after just one series this year. He said: "Gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough."

Top Gear: Will 50 cent replace Chris Evans as host?

26 July

Rapper and car enthusiast 50 Cent wants to replace Chris Evans as the main host of Top Gear, as the show continues to try to find a proper substitute for Jeremy Clarkson.

50 Cent, real name Curtis James Jackson III, told the Daily Star he is keen to get an interview for the role.

"I would love to work on Top Gear. I could save that show for sure, but it would cost them," he told the newspaper.

"There ain't a car I haven't owned over the years. My car collection is as good as anybody's out there."

He added: "Top Gear was one of the world's iconic shows and it's a shame it came to this.

"The show since the old team left has been unrecognisable and if it don't get back to where it should be soon then it may never recover.

"It's a show you know you can watch any country you are in."

Evans stepped down as host of the programme after his first season at the helm was dogged by scandal, rumours of infighting and flagging ratings. The show has struggled to find its feet after Clarkson was dismissed by the BBC for punching a colleague in the face in a dispute over the availability of hot food during an overnight stay in a hotel while filming for the show.

So could the rapper replace Evans?

Earlier this month, it was reported that James Martin had become the surprise favourite for the role with odds of 3/1. Comedian Steve Coogan is joint second with motorcycle racer Guy Martin, both on 6/1. Other names mentioned include F1 driver Jenson Button, rapper Tinie Tempah, former model Jodie Kidd and comedian Jonathan Ross.

Chris Evans: It was 'love at first sight' for Matt LeBlanc

11 July

A week after announcing that he would not be returning for series two of the revamped Top Gear, Chris Evans has attempted to set the record straight about allegations of behind-the-scenes bickering.

Even before the show hit screens earlier this year, production was dogged by rumours that the Radio 2 stalwart had clashed with his co-presenter, former Friends star Matt LeBlanc.

Writing for the Mail on Sunday this weekend, Evans praised LeBlanc's dedication and professionalism, calling him "a total mensch and extreme petrolhead".

"From the moment he made his first real driving film, in the bonkers Aerial Nomad in Morocco, it was love at first sight," Evans said.

It has been suggested that BBC bosses are hoping to sign LeBlanc up to return in the next series as the show's main presenter, alongside fellow newcomers Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris, Eddie Jordan and Rory Reid. Evans appeared to lend his approval to the plan, saying LeBlanc is "the captain Top Gear truly needs going forward".

As for his own decision to call it a day, Evans said his short tenure at the helm was simply a case of him being a "square peg in a round hole" and that it had been an "honour, privilege and a pleasure" to work on the show.

Jeremy Clarkson hosts 'victory parade' after Chris Evans quits Top Gear

8 July

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have staged a "victory parade" after Chris Evans announced he was quitting Top Gear, says the Daily Mail.

In what has been described as "a two fingers up" to their rival, the trio were mobbed as they drove into Vicenza's main square in northern Italy to film their new Amazon show, The Grand Tour.

Clarkson had invited fans to join them, tweeting: "People of Italy, James, Richard and I will be filming in the Piazza Dei Signori in Vicenza tomorrow at 3pm. Come along".

Crew members claimed the former Top Gear host intentionally staged the chaotic scenes of chaos as "a two fingers up" to rival Evans.

"Jeremy's been trying to keep quiet about it, but he's pleased as punch," said an unnamed cameraman.

"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."

Clarkson, who was at the wheel of an orange Aston Martin, was asked whether he had a message for Evans. "Don't be stupid", he replied.

Meanwhile, May told the Daily Mail he was "very chuffed" that Evans had been forced to quit after his first, controversial series in charge of the show.

The Grand Tour will begin broadcasting in the autumn and will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Why Chris Evans failed to win over Top Gear fans

6 July

Chris Evans has said it is time to "move on" after stepping down as the host of Top Gear, but critics are still analysing where the motoring show reboot went wrong.

Under the DJ's stewardship, Top Gear's ratings dropped from around 8 million viewers to 1.9 million and Sunday night's finale, featuring US actor Patrick Dempsey, was the worst ever rated show in the series' history.

Evans had signed a three-year deal with the BBC, but he announced on Monday that he was calling it quits. "Gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough," he said.

The BBC has confirmed it has no plans to add to the presenting line-up, "presumably leaving former Friends star LeBlanc with a bigger share of the limelight", says The Independent.

Many have described Evans resignation as inevitable. "He was an out-of-control diva more volatile than [Jeremy] Clarkson," says the Daily Mirror's Nicola Methven.

"He was too shouty. The audience were being forced to laugh. The real problem, of course, was that the BBC Two audience didn't take to it."

Speaking to BBC News, former Stig Perry McCarthy said he thought Evans "hadn't quite gelled with the show".

The revamped series had problems from the first episode, he added: "The first show was terrible – it was really bad and I was incredibly surprised they didn't produce a better return show."

The Daily Telegraph lists the things it thinks irritated viewers about Evans, including the shouting, the bad chemistry with other presenters and his ego. But one of the key problems seems to be that Evans simply wasn't Clarkson.

"Evans may own a couple of cars, but he lacks Clarkson's clout as a serious motoring journalist," says the paper. "His scriptwriters didn't help; too often, Evans's quips in the car review sections sounded hopelessly sub-Clarkson."

Stuart Heritage at The Guardian agrees. Whoever was tasked with replacing Clarkson was "doomed to fail from the very beginning", he says. Jesus Christ himself could have "descended from heaven, presented a note-perfect Christmas special about driving a Mazda to Madagascar", and Clarkson fans would have "hated him on sight".

The journalist adds: "Really, the surprise isn't that Chris Evans has quit Top Gear. The surprise is that he even hosted it in the first place."

Chris Evans's Top Gear demise seen as inevitable by critics

5 July

Chris Evans made a special tribute to his former Top Gear colleagues on his Radio 2 breakfast show this morning after resigning from the BBC series yesterday afternoon.

"Today's show is dedicated to all the Top Gear gang – morning, gang - and today's show is entitled Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On. As we must, as we should," he said, opening the programme.

Under Evans's stewardship, Top Gear's ratings dropped from around 8 million viewers to 1.9 million. Sunday night's episode, featuring US actor Patrick Dempsey, was the worst-ever rated show in the series' history.

The fall-out from his decision to quit has been picked over by the UK media, with The Sun reporting a Top Gear insider as saying: "Chris is gone – everyone here is celebrating. It's been a disaster."

The Daily Mirror's Nicola Methven described his resignation as inevitable. "He was an out-of-control diva more volatile than [Jeremy] Clarkson," she said. "He was too shouty. The audience were being forced to laugh. The real problem, of course, was that the BBC Two audience didn't take to it."

Speaking to BBC News, former Stig Perry McCarthy, said he thought Evans "hadn't quite gelled with the show".

He added that the revamped series had problems from the first episode. "The first show was terrible – it was really bad and I was incredibly surprised they didn't produce a better return show," he said.

The BBC has confirmed it has no plans to change the Top Gear presenting line-up, "presumably leaving former Friends star LeBlanc with a bigger share of the limelight", says The Independent.

Another of the Sun's handily-placed Top Gear sources said: "Matt is going to get the big job on his own. There are already active negotiations and he's almost certain to sign now that he doesn't have to work with Chris."

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