BBC axes plans for two 'Top Gear' Christmas specials

The annual programmes have been pulled from the broadcaster's festive line-up while they sort out new presenters

Top Gear, Chris Evan, Matt LeBlanc, Christmas Special,

Matt LeBlanc, Chris Evans and The Stig [BBC]

In the ongoing problems plaguing the BBC’s long-running motoring show Top Gear, the news has emerged that the British national broadcaster has now cancelled plans to film two Christmas Specials. The decision comes a week after presenter Chris Evans made the decision to leave the show after weeks of falling ratings and critical panning.

Brought back to the BBC after the show’s former trio of presenters left in the wake of an assault scandal on one of their producers, Chris Evans was announced as the new face of the programme in February. He was joined by former Friends actor Matt LeBlanc, as well as five other motoring industry experts.

But the revamped programme made headlines for all the wrong reasons before the show had even started airing, receiving criticism in the British media when a stunt scene shot neared the Cenotaph war memorial was judged to be insensitive. The revamped programme, relaunched by the BBC to much publicity, fared poorly with viewers, with much of the ire directed at Evans.

The final straw for Evans came when it emerged that the show’s season finale on July 3rd attracted a record low of 1.9m viewers, falling significantly behind the France vs Iceland Euro 2016 game and the BBC’s long-running Sunday night show, the Antiques Roadshow.

The veteran television and radio personality announced his decision to leave the show last week, leading to BBC executives to axe the two planned Christmas specials.

“Planning for Top Gear series 24 is currently underway and the team will be working towards bringing the show back sometime in the early part of 2017,” a BBC spokesperson said.

Despite media reports that Evans and LeBlanc did not get on while filming the show, Evans has publicly pledged his support to the former sitcom star as the “best shot” for the show’s jeopardised future. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Evans said: “For me, he is the man. He is the captain Top Gear truly needs going forward, the perfect torso for the rest of TG’s limbs.

“Not only does he eat, sleep, breathe and dream engines, prop shafts and trail-braking, but the overwhelming quality that struck me about him is that he’s just such a pro.”

Evans added: “The whole time I worked with him, he never once looked at the clock, was never late on set, knew his lines inside out and back to front and, most importantly, on such an intense production, he always had time for everyone, especially the crew.”

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