Top Gear ratings have fallen steeply since former host Jeremy Clarkson left the BBC show. Bumps in the road were inevitable with such a beloved program changing hands, but after one season, one co-host has departed. About a week ago, some behind-the-scenes gossip indicated that Matt LeBlanc had enough of Chris Evans and demanded his firing, or else. LeBlanc wasn’t alone, for those same reports indicated that the entire staff found Evans to be insufferable, and one prominent staffer had already quit over the mess.
If ratings were high, such friction would have been something that the BBC may have tolerated. Yet the opposite was true, as Top Gear ended this season with a record low number of viewers — 1.9 million people tuned into the final episode. That’s quite a downswing for a show that never dipped under 2 million, sometimes approached 4 million, and is often considered to be the channel’s hottest property. And Evans is also dealing with a personal fracas as well with a sexual assault claim from a former co-worker, which Evans calls “a witch hunt.”
Whether or not those allegations contributed to Top Gear‘s falling ratings, we’ll never know. In the end, Evans decided the pressure was all too much, and he’s stepping down from the show while lamenting, “Gave it my best shot, but sometimes that’s not enough.”
So, this marks the end of a tiny era. Evans will go back to hosting elsewhere on the BBC, which is undoubtedly for the best. He was reportedly tired of all the constant media sniping over all of his “shouting” and other attempts to replicate Clarkson, which “seemed forced and not particularly funny.” Who will co-host now? Hopefully it will be someone who gets along with LeBlanc, but how hard can that be? The man worked with the same co-stars for over a decade on Friends without incident. That alone could speak to the difficulty of working with Evans.