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Top Gear: Chris Evans chooses pub for first production meeting

17 September

Chris Evans has revealed that work on the new incarnation of Top Gear is now underway.

In an interview with Top Gear magazine, the show's new host said that he had called a marathon four-hour meeting at his local pub, before heading down to the bar for drinks.

The mood may have been largely jovial, but Evans also made the team swear an oath not to reveal any details about the forthcoming programme.

Evans's efforts will be subject to great scrutiny as he attempts to reinvent the world's most popular motoring show after the BBC dropped former host Jeremy Clarkson for fighting with a staff member in a hotel in North Yorkshire.

Clarkson's co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond subsequently quit the show in solidarity with their friend, leaving the way clear for the BBC to appoint a whole new team.

So far only Evans has been officially announced as a host of the show, but many media watchers anticipate that the BBC will appoint two more hosts, at least one of whom is expected to be a woman. 

Evans told Top Gear magazine that work on the show began recently when he took the entire cast and crew for a boozy night out at his local pub in Camden, but swore them all to secrecy about what the new show would be like, the Daily Mirror reports.

"We had our first full-on Top Gear production meeting the other day," he told the magazine. "This basically consisted of me booking the upstairs room in a pub round the corner from where I live - for £15 an hour, and jugs of water and coffee to start.

"That was until we ran out of creative gumption. Then we went straight downstairs to the bar."

Evans said the team managed to pin down some important details before the drinking began. He said: "A new running order for the new Top Gear was conceived that night and pasted to the office wall.”

"Everyone has sworn a solemn oath the words of which were: 'I promise to uphold the values, credibility and sanity of the show that over the past four decades has put the car in Carmageddon, the pist in piston engine and the OMG in GTB."

BBC producers are said to be nervous about Evans' plans to broadcast the show live every week.

One source told the Daily Star: "Chris wants to do the shows live but executives are worried about what might pop out of the presenters' mouths. They are considering a time lag so they can bleep out any swear words before they hit the telly screens. After the Clarkson fiasco, you can't blame them for being cautious."

The Daily Mirror suggests a time lag would constitute censorship of the presenter, who is apparently keen to bring the "buzz" of Channel 4's TFI Friday to Top Gear. However, it points out that TFI Friday bosses put an end to the live shows after guest Shaun Ryder said the F-word during an interview.

The Sun suggests weekly live broadcasts could rule the bookmakers' favourite, Suzi Perry, out of the co-host race because of her commitments to presenting Formula One. However, there are said to be talks about her doing live broadcasts from F1 locations.

New Top Gear: Zoe Ball tipped to join Chris Evans 

14 September

TV presenter Zoe Ball is "being lined up" to join Chris Evans on the rebooted Top Gear set to go into production next year, according to reports.

Ball and Evans have worked together on a number of TV and radio programmes, and are said to have a good on-screen rapport. Ball reportedly impressed producers during a recent round of screen tests.

A Top Gear production staff member told the Sunday Mirror: "Zoe looks like a certainty after the screen tests. She was brilliant down on the race track and she's enthusiastic about cars.

"She's a complete professional and of course has a long history of working with the BBC on radio and television so she has known Chris a long time. Things immediately clicked into place and there was a lightbulb moment among producers. The chemistry between Zoe and Chris is perfect."

Evans was recruited to Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson was dropped by the BBC after getting into a fight with a producer. Following his departure, co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May quit the show in solidarity with their colleague, leaving the BBC with no option but to select a whole new presenting team for its lucrative show.

After he was appointed, Evans held open auditions to try to find a new presenter to join his team, but the selection of Ball would mean the return of a long-time friend. The pair separately hosted Channel 4's Big Breakfast and Ball has acted as Evans's relief presenter on his Radio 2 breakfast show, The Guardian notes.

The new Top Gear is expected to go head-to-head with Jeremy Clarkson's as-yet untitled car show for Amazon Prime. Media analysts are divided over whether motoring enthusiasts will embrace Evans as Clarkson's replacement or whether they will migrate across to Amazon's £79-per-year subscription service.

Jeremy Clarkson: will Jenson Button join new Top Gear line-up?

29 July

Jenson Button has been linked with the new Top Gear line-up, as rumours continue to circulate about who will replace Jeremy Clarkson on the rebooted car show.

According to the Daily Mail's Sebastian Shakespeare, the former world champion Formula One driver has been "tipped" to join the show with one source claiming that "an announcement is imminent."

"The 35-year-old driver is in talks with the BBC about co-presenting Top Gear with Chris Evans," the paper reports.

After dropping Clarkson for fighting with a colleague, the BBC appointed Chris Evans as the new show's lead presenter. It then invited members of the public to apply, receiving a range of entries both serious and frivolous. But most bookmakers suggest that BBC bosses will settle on familiar faces rather than taking a punt on new blood.

Earlier in the week the name most frequently linked with a role on the revamped Top Gear, former model Jodie Kidd, told the Mail that there should "definitely" be a woman among the new line-up.

"Women are buying cars – it's the norm – so you need a woman's angle. Because we're different, men and women, and it's great to listen to a car expert who is a woman."

Other names that have been linked to the role include motorcycle racer Guy Martin, actor Philip Glenister, F1 presenter Jake Humphrey and comedians John Bishop, Jonny Vaughan and Rowan Atkinson.

Top Gear auditions close as BBC draws up shortlist

July 22

BBC auditions to find new hosts to replace Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May on Top Gear have now closed.

Shortly after appointing Evans as lead presenter for the rebooted show, the BBC announced that it would hold open auditions to find the 49-year-old presenter's new co-hosts.

The rules were simple: "you had to live, breathe and even eat all things automotive" and also "know more about cars than any sane, balanced human should". Prospective applicants were invited to upload a 30-second video of themselves to the BBC's search for a Top Gear star page.

With the auditions process now closed, the BBC has published videos from six applicants – five men and one woman.

One of the hopefuls, Rory Reid, describes himself as the love child of Jeremy Clarkson and Idris Elba. Another candidate, who definitely ticks the passionate about cars box is Kevin Buxton who says that cars "lost him jobs" and "cost him marriages". Another candidate, Danielle Christie, likens the process of auditioning for Top Gear to being on Tinder.

The BBC has not said when it will announce its final hosting line-up, but bookmakers have short odds for well-known names including former model Jodie Kidd, who is "pretty much nailed on for the job" at 1-5, the Daily Mirror says. Other celebrities who have been linked with the show include motorcycle racer Guy Martin and actor Philip Glenister.

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