Chris Evans delivered on less than half of his contractual commitment to make up to 14 episodes of “Top Gear” during his first and only year as presenter.
Evans committed to make between 12 and 14 episodes of the BBC2 motoring show in his first year, four sources at the UK public broadcaster told Business Insider. He resigned last week, however, having only made six.
The 12-14 episodes, which comprised series 23 of “Top Gear,” were supposed to be broken into two blocks: the first beginning in May and the second planned for later this year.
Sources have claimed that plans for a second batch of episodes in 2016 were in the balance before Evans resigned and have now been completely derailed by the presenter’s departure. Pre-production has begun on series 24 and filming is set to get underway in September, for transmission next year.
Because he failed to meet the target, Evans will take home only a third of the pay from his three-year “Top Gear” deal. A BBC insider said this could be worth as much as £1 million, but this figure was disputed by a second, more senior, source.
TV industry sources have also speculated that Evans took some ownership of “Top Gear’s” intellectual property when he signed up to host the programme in June 2015, but this has been denied by the BBC.
A BBC insider argued that corporation had been attempting to “engineer” Evans’ resignation for some time, but could not sack the presenter because his agent Michael Foster negotiated a “very strong contract” and it would have been too expensive.
The source, and others inside the BBC, added that Mark Linsey — the director of the BBC’s in-house production unit BBC Studios — “did not argue too much” with Evans when he tendered his resignation last week.
Evans is unlikely to be replaced directly on ‘Top Gear.” He will continue to host his Radio 2 breakfast show. The BBC is now attempting to convince Matt Le Blanc to stay on for a further series after the former “Friends” star’s performance on the show was praised by critics.
BBC confident “Top Gear” will retain international appeal
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm that distributes “Top Gear” to broadcasters around the world, expects the show’s international appeal to be undimmed by the changes.”We remain extremely confident about the ongoing position of Top Gear,” a spokesperson said.
Despite this, Top Gear USA, the History Channel version of the BBC motoring show, was cancelled last week. “I’m not saying Top Gear is done, but it’s done for the immediate future on History,” co-presenter Rutledge Wood revealed in a post on Facebook.