Top Gear line-up team

It is reported that after tanking audience numbers just three episodes into the new series of Top Gear, lead host Chris Evans will take a step back from the limelight at the helm of the revamped motoring programme, according to The Telegraph.

Live viewer turnout for the third episode, which aired last Sunday, sat at just 2.37 million. That’s nearly half a million less than the week before, and is the second-lowest figure since the show was revived by Jeremy Clarkson and former executive producer Andy Wilman in 2002. Only one episode, which aired on June 2003, recorded fewer people watching live at 2.36 million, just 9,000 less than the latest episode.

The poor figures were despite positive reviews garnered by the performances of Chris Harris and Rory Reid, who made their first appearance on the show driving the Ferrari F12tdf and the new Ford Focus RS respectively. Harris had a strong following through his YouTube car reviews before taking on the role, while Reid, a motoring journalist, was the only presenter to win a spot on the show via a public audition.

Both Reid and Harris were consigned to the behind-the-scenes show Extra Gear for the first two weeks, but while Evans and Matt LeBlanc will continue to handle the studio bits between the films, you can expect to see more of the other hosts from here on out through their prerecorded films. Reid replied to a tweet – a positive review of his and Harris’ performance, no less – with, “We are on the main show every Sunday now.”

Despite the opening episode drawing in 4.3 million live viewers, the new Top Gear hasn’t gotten on the most stellar of starts, with the debut episode rated as the worst quality show on terrestrial television when it aired. That episode received just 60 out of 100 on its appreciation index (AI) score, compared to the average for a BBC Two programme – around 82.

The second episode didn’t fare much better with a score of 68 and a live viewership of 2.8 million. However, The Telegraph also reported that most impartial observers were more approving of the show’s performance in the weeks following its debut, with the toning down of Evan’s “hyperactive enthusiasm.”

The slump in audience figures are unlikely to improve for the rest of the series – every subsequent episode over the coming weeks will clash with Euro 2016 football matches happening at the same time, which eats into Top Gear‘s typical young male audience.